Generations of Generosity

$1.73 Million in Community Grants Support Bold Solutions Countywide

(Photo: Girls, Inc.)

This community is filled with good people.

And every year, we get to learn in detail about how these good people help children, families, and seniors learn, grow, heal, play, and thrive in Santa Cruz County.

Then, thanks to the generosity of more good people over the course of 40 years, we get to fund the work of nonprofits with the most promising solutions to the issues we face in our community.

(Photo: Live Oak Cradle 2 Career)

Helping Everyone Recover

This spring, we awarded $1.73 million to 70 local nonprofits working toward recovery from the isolation, stress and economic hardship of the pandemic, helping people live and die with dignity, and protecting the places and programs that make this place special.

Nonprofits continue to create opportunities with community members striving for health and wellbeing, economic security, learning and career goals, and access to arts and cultural experiences. They are helping families with pandemic related debt meet basic needs like paying rent and putting food on the table. After two years of isolation, nonprofits are helping youth get social-emotional and academic help, and access to programs that set them up for life-long success.

We’re investing in partners working on the community-wide shifts needed to reduce the disparities we see for local People of Color in health, housing, education, and economic stability. The people most affected need to be the ones trusted to drive the solutions that will work best for them and this year, as in many years, the majority of our grant funding is going to South County and organizations serving mainly People of Color.

(Photo: Community Bridges)

Sustaining Support

The relationships we have with our nonprofit partners is based on mutual trust. We rely on nonprofits and those they work with as the experts in what it takes to help our community thrive. We listen and learn from them about how best to support their work. We understood that unrestricted, multi-year funding would give them the flexibility to assess and determine where grant dollars are most needed. So this year, we committed 52% of our funding for multi-year general operating support grants.

Anna Vaage, a senior development analyst with Community Bridges said that general operating funds support programs that aren’t fully covered within the bounds of funding restrictions. “Multi-year grants go even further to allow us to plan programming. Among all the uncertainties between awards, donations, and expenses, the flexible support from the Community Foundation truly goes to where it's most needed."

(Photo; Vets4Vets)

New Voices, New Solutions

While we’re offering core support to frontline service providers, we also wanted to fund new grantees to support movement building, community voices, and new ideas. First time awardees included Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative, the Asian American Pacific Islander Collective, and Vets 4 Vets.

“I see our grant as part of a growing partnership with the Community Foundation that moves beyond the transactional to the relational,” said Stephanie Barron Lu, Executive Director of Positive Discipline Community Resources (PDCR). Their receipt of this grant says Barron Lu, “not only validated and acknowledged our work, but will also empower us to sustain it.” PDCR helps parents and kids build mutually respectful relationships. The work is not therapy but is certainly therapeutic healing work as it strives to prevent childhood trauma and lessen risky and abusive behavior. Pre-pandemic, PDCR served 200 families a year on a sliding scale fee with no one turned away due to lack of funds, and its programming was primarily offered in English with Spanish translation upon request. In 2022, PDCR is poised to serve 600 families with fully free-to-participant, bilingual programming, 62% of which is in Spanish of, by and for native Spanish speakers. “Without the Community Foundation’s support,” says Barron Lu, “sustaining let alone deepening this growth into this new year would have only been a dream.”

(Photo: Arts Council Santa Cruz County)

Nurturing the Arts and Spaces for Creativity

Visual art, music, and dance–always a cornerstone of a thriving community–are playing an increasingly vital role in helping youth continue to heal after a year and a half of stress, isolation, and increasing rates of depression. Recent Community Grants have funded the youth Mexican folkloric dance troupe Esperanza del Valle and arts and culture programs Activities4All, El Sistema, Senderos, Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center, and Watsonville Film Festival. We’re also helping arts organizations open new spaces, further infusing economic and cultural life into downtown Watsonville. A grant to Pajaro Valley Arts will help in the campaign to acquire the Porter Building, expanding access to gallery space and more. Arts Council Santa Cruz County is getting help with a new home for the Mariposa Arts program for youth, and an affordable practice space for South County performing arts groups.

Stewards of a Better Tomorrow

This year marks our 40th anniversary and for each of those forty years, this community has shown that good people are everywhere, there is strength in numbers, and every gift can make a lasting impact. From the extraordinary legacy of the Borina family to the many families who’ve entrusted us with their charitable visions for years to come, we’re honored to be the community’s partner as we care for each other, improve quality of life, and create opportunity. We’re working toward lasting solutions to local issues, together.

Learn about the nonprofits doing good

All 2022 Community Grant Awardees