Diversity Partnership 

A commitment to social justice, opportunity, and inclusion!

The Diversity Partnership strengthens alliances, promotes respect and enhance services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Santa Cruz County.

When launched in 1997, we became one of the first community foundations in the country to establish a social justice grantmaking and leadership program for LGBTQ+ people. In 2005, we launched a campaign to build a permanent endowment to advance the goals of the partnership. This permanently endowed fund has reached the $1 million mark thanks to the collective effort of many community partners and donors!  We are grateful for the impact that generosity has made on Santa Cruz County. As a member of Funders for LGBTQ Issues, more than $1 million in grants has been awarded since 1997. 

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LGBTQ+ Grants Available

Information about the annual competitive LGBTQ+ grant program is available here. All nonprofit organizations and fiscally-sponsored groups can apply for a grant to support programs and activities that strengthen alliances, promote respect, and enhance services for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the county. 

Support for LGBTQ Youth

We are pleased to announce that for a second year, the Diversity Partnership Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Grants are available to school GSA clubs to create a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ youth. The grants range from $250 to $500 and are a non-competitive funding opportunity to support youth.  In 2017, a total of $7,000 was awarded to 16 local GSA alliances and clubs. Guidelines for 2018 are available here, applications are due by October 31.

Pajaro Valley High GSA – Increasing LGBTQ+ visibility on campus and at community events.

2018 Diversity Partnership Grants: How to Apply


Important Info for All Applicants

If you received a Community Grant from us (not donor-advised) since 2000, you already have an online account set up. 

Do not create a new account.  Email Ana Espinoza or call her at 831.662.2073 to reset the password for your account.


  • July 26 - Guidelines available
  • August 1 - Application opens
  • August 8 - Grant info session
  • September 14 - Application due online by noon
  • October 31 - Awards announced

Diversity Partnership Grants Awarded: 1997 to 2017

Since 1997, over $1 million in grants have been awarded from funds provided by our own endowed fund and other philanthropic partners.

Diversity Partnership Advisory Committee

The advisory committee guides us on how to use our grantmaking and leadership activities to promote social equity within the county.

Jim Brown, chair, has extensive knowledge of the LGBTQ community, issues and resources having served as Executive Director of the Diversity Center and the 418 Project.  He has served as a past member of the Diversity Partnership Advisory Committee.  Recently, he served as the Foundation’s program officer/grants manager for two years and was responsible for overseeing the Diversity Partnership program before accepting the position of deputy director with the Arts Council.  In this new capacity, Jim will assist in implementing their agency’s strategic plan.  In addition, he is the director of the Tannery Center where he is currently focused on creating new programming and increasing awareness of the Tannery campus.  Jim’s expertise in multiple service areas will be of benefit to the Diversity Partnership Advisory Committee. 

Maria Cadenas is the executive director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures. She's the former philanthropy manager for Driscoll's. She sits on the steering committee for Sustainable Agriculture Food and System Funders and is a member of the Women's Radio Collective at KZSC 88.1 FM.  She is former board member for Funders for LGBTQ Issues, the Stewardship Council of Roots of Change, and Associate Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.

Ami Ebright is president of Monterey Bay Resources, Inc., a private lending firm. She serves on the board of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. She is a long-time resident and graduate of UC Santa Cruz.

Damian Maldonado serves as Chief Consultant of the Performance Consulting & Training Group, a statewide consulting firm specializing in helping organizations improve performance by aligning their processes, practices and people. Damian has co-authored legislation to increase funding to youth programs and was appointed to serve on California Governor’s After School Master Plan Design Team. He was instrumental in helping develop statewide core competencies for youth programs in the areas of diversity, access, inclusion and equity.

Senior Rabbi, Paula Marcus has served Temple Beth El since 1979, first as a teacher and co-principal in the religious school, then as a congregational cantor, and as Rabbi upon her ordination in May 2004. Rabbi Paula is active in social justice issues and has been an ally to the LGBTQ community for many years. She first became acquainted with the Foundation when the Temple’s Out in Our Faith program applied for a Diversity Partnership Fund for a grant to encourage congregations of all faiths to be open and accepting of LGBTQ people. In her statement of interest, Rabbi Paula stated, “I can trace my synagogue’s learning curve from acceptance towards celebration and it has always been my goal to try to heal the wounds that have been inflicted by religious ignorance."

Henry Martin is an attorney and director of the Watsonville Law Center where he has worked for 13 years serving low-income, rural and immigrant working families in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito. Services include access to economic justice, wellness, housing and employment. He serves as a member of the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) LGBT Bar Association, the California Indian Law Association (CILA), and serves as the policy director for Salud Para La Gente, Inc., a local community health organization based in Watsonville.  Henry’s unique experience and knowledge of the immigrant and Latino community and resources will augment the current expertise on the committee.

Erica Murphy has worked as a guidance counselor at Pajaro Valley High School since 2006. Since that time she has  worked as the faculty advisor for the Pajaro Valley High School Gay Straight Alliance/Queer Straight Alliance. With her support the students have worked to make the campus a safe and welcoming place to LGBTQ students, same sex parents and teachers who have previously been closeted in their professional lives.

Chris Weir served on the board of Triangle Speakers and the Diversity Center and was a member of the Community Foundation's donor education and Planned Giving Center advisory committee. She is a retired software engineer, who has lived in Santa Cruz over 30 years.