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Grant Opportunities

Our Donors’ Generosity Leads to Opportunity and Impact

Since 1982, we have had the privilege of stewarding charitable gifts from generous locals who wanted to see our community thrive. Together with our donors, we’ve awarded a total of $100 million to local community organizations to date. In 2019, we awarded $2 million in community grants to high-performing nonprofits serving Santa Cruz County, who are aligned with our funding priorities, responsive to the needs of our community, and are making a lasting impact on Santa Cruz County residents and their quality of life.

Our Mission, Vision, and Values drive our actions

Our Mission

To bring together people, ideas, and resources to inspire philanthropy and accomplish great things

Our Vision

To make Santa Cruz County thrive for all who call it home, now and in the future

Our Values

Accelerating Solutions. Building Trust. Advancing Opportunities.

Our Grantmaking Overview

Our community grant process for 2020 is getting a fresh approach. We want our grants process to strengthen our ability to be a bridge between donors’ goals and your work to address our County’s needs. We're making changes to be better advocates for your work with our donors who direct more than 80% of the grants we award to the causes they care about most.

This year we will work with you to create a stellar 1 Page Funding Request that will help you put your best foot forward with us. It will help us better advocate for you and connect you with donors in new and more meaningful ways throughout the year. It will list the questions donors ask us most and act as your Funding Request for 2020 grantmaking opportunities where your work aligns with our priorities. Download a worksheet below to help populate the template that's also shared below.

To learn more, listen to our information session from February 18th.

Our focus remains primarily on services that benefit youth and seniors, as well as basic needs or safety net services. Final drafts of requests will be due by 11:59 p.m. March 5th for organizations being considered for our spring grantmaking. If we don’t have funds available for your organization, we’ll accept these requests on a rolling basis for donor-advisor consideration. You can view our 2019 partner grant recipients here. We'll post answers to common questions we receive in this slide deck on a rolling basis.

1. 2020 Grants - How to Apply Overview
2. Funding Request Worksheet
3. Funding Request Template

Arts, Culture & History grants will again be made in collaboration with the Arts Council Santa Cruz County. We are excited to be working together to strengthen our support for the arts and offer a single application process that simplifies the process for our local arts community. The 2020 application deadline has passed and award announcements will be made by both funders on April 3rd.

Compassionate Care grants are dedicated for organizations addressing end-of-life and hospice care issues. Grants are by invitation only and will be announced in April 2020.

The Borina Special Places Fund supports capital improvement projects that provide a greater sense of history and community well-being. The Fund looks to support the preservation, expansion and creation of facilities that offer:

  • Youth a place to develop,
  • Seniors a place to gather,
  • Historic places to be preserved.

Opportunities to apply are by invitation only. If you see alignment with your own project in 2020 or beyond, contact grants@cfscc.org to share your idea.

The Resilience & Opportunity Fund provides up to $10,000 to organizations that seek to respond to unanticipated needs, unique opportunities, or to try new approaches to community issues. The Fund is limited. Prior to applying, applicants' first step is to describe the planned project in an email to grants@cfscc.org.

The Diversity Partnership Fund grant program seeks to sustain, enhance or expand programs and/or projects designed to strengthen alliances, promote respect, and enhance services for Santa Cruz County’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) community. The next opportunities to apply will be in Fall 2021. Learn more.

The Rydell Visual Arts Fund will be announcing grant recipients in February 2020 both for four new artist Fellowships of $20,000, and for artist-nonprofit partnership projects. An exhibit featuring the work of our 2018-19 Rydell Fellows runs from February 7, to March 28, 2020 at the r. blitzer gallery.

Education Initiatives

We have two initiatives underway to prepare children and youth for college and career pathways.

Girls Paving the Way is a three-year program supporting the educational progress and social-emotional learning of a cohort of girls from sixth through eighth grade in Pajaro Valley. This initiative is led by the Educational Partnership Center at UCSC and supported by a variety of youth-serving organizations and funded through our Fund for Women and Girls.

Closing the Math Achievement Gap is a multi-year initiative with Santa Cruz County College Commitment to improve student math scores by supporting math skill acquisition. It is funded primarily through our Borina Fund for Education.

Looking for information on our scholarships? Learn more here.

Eligibility & Criteria for Selection

We partner with 501(c)(3) organizations and/or fiscally-sponsored groups to advance our goals and priorities. In addition to alignment with our priority funding areas, we use a variety of criteria in which to evaluate proposals including your organization’s strength of leadership, its ability to attract resources to fuel your mission work, and your record of success towards clearly defined outcomes that respond to local social conditions and challenges.

Have questions about our grants program? Send us an email to get an answer from our team.

Contact Us

Congratulations to our 2019 Partner Grant Recipients!

Community Support Grants

Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy
CASA of Santa Cruz County
Catholic Charities of Monterey Diocese
CERT Auxiliary of Santa Cruz County
Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County
Community Bridges
Dientes Community Dental Care
Digital NEST
Family Service Agency of the Central Coast
Girls Incorporated of the Central Coast
Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County
Health Projects Center
Mountains 2 Sea
NAMI Santa Cruz County
Pajaro Valley Shelter Services
Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
Salud y Cariño
Santa Cruz Community Health Centers
Save Our Shores
Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County
Teen Kitchen Project
Watsonville Law Center

Borina Special Places

Elkhorn Slough Foundation
Evergreen Cemetery - Museum of Art & History
Felton Branch Library
Live Oak Soccer Complex
Pajaro Valley Historical Association
Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance
Watsonville Women's Club

Compassionate Care

Coastal Kids Home Care
Hospice of Santa Cruz County
Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support

Arts, Culture & History

Agricultural History Project
Arts Council Santa Cruz County
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
Community Arts & Empowerment
El Sistema
Esperanza del Valle
Friends of Olympia Station/Tandy Beal
Japanese Cultural Fair
Jewel Theatre Company
Kuumbwa Jazz
Museum of Art & History
New Music Works
Pajaro Valley Arts
San Lorenzo Valley Museum
Santa Cruz Art League
Santa Cruz County Symphony
Santa Cruz Mountain Art Center
Santa Cruz Shakespeare
Watsonville Film Festival
White Hawk Indian Council

Resilience & Opportunity

Santa Cruz Community Health Centers & Watsonville Law Center

Here to Help

Kevin Heuer


Contact our Director of Engagement & Impact Kevin Heuer at 831.662.2030 or kheuer@cfscc.org

Grantee Partners

Looking to submit a grant report or new application? Login here.