Growing Hope

$1.8 million in 2021 Community Grants Will Help Healing Take Root

Over the past year, reading the news on our phones has felt like an exercise in “doom-scrolling.” Even with COVID-19 case rates going down and vaccination rates climbing, the news is still hard and it’s going to be hard for a while.

But with the announcement of our 2021 Community Grant awards, we’re happy to have some good news to share.

So, let’s try “hope-scrolling” for a little bit instead.

Supporting the Support Network

This spring we awarded $1.8 million to 58 nonprofits involved in youth programs and education, services for seniors and those in hospice care, hunger, racial justice, the arts, and more. Foundation funds will help nonprofits maintain key services, develop new initiatives, and to address ongoing needs post-pandemic. Recipients can use the funds flexibly, including for general operating expenses. Grants are distributed from nearly 70 funds established by individuals, families, and businesses over 40 years to impact a wide range of philanthropic causes and opportunities for years to come. These grants are in addition to the $8 million for COVID-19 relief, fire response and distance learning support since the beginning of the pandemic and $4.2 million in donor-advised grants awarded since January 2021.

National Issues, Local Solutions

While some resources are now on the way from the state and federal level, The Foundation’s grants will help our nonprofit partners take action immediately. Here are some examples of how this year’s awardees will be helping address national issues with local solutions.

Moms disenrolling from school

The pandemic removed 2.2 million women from the workforce and those women overwhelmingly have children. Additionally, about one-quarter of today's college students are also parents. The issues of childcare, working from home, and remote schooling have disproportionately impacted mothers and jeopardized the education and future careers of women trying to lift their families out of poverty.

  • Local support: $80,000 to Cabrillo College Foundation in scholarships will provide significant support to moms who will need larger than usual scholarships to finish their degrees. Mothers with stable funding can enroll full time and complete their goals and change the economic trajectories of their families.

Disproportionate toll of COVID-19 in Communities of Color

COVID-19 has been especially devastating in communities of color across the country, particularly for Indigenous, Black, and Latinx people who experienced the highest rates of infections and deaths.

  • Local support: $25,000 to Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center for Black Health Matters to support the Black residents health and wellness—physically, spiritually, and mentally—by building community and safe public spaces outside. This grant is one of many for equity-driven grassroots nonprofits and we are proud that 68% of our COVID-19 relief funds have been given to nonprofits that are led by and for communities of color.

Increased need for mental health services

Across the country there has been heightened depression, increased substance abuse, and intense anxiety, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the prevalence for mental distress is highest in the Latinx community with families suffering from grief, illness, and financial stress.

  • Local support: $40,000 to National Alliance on Mental Illness Santa Cruz County to grow services for the Latinx community by adding bilingual staff, doubling the availability of the Spanish helpline, and increasing the number of weekly bilingual classes and groups. We also know that mental health is supported by strong connections with caring adults and peers. Read on about our grants to youth.

Learning loss and disconnection for children and youth

Prolonged periods of remote learning—especially for students without reliable internet connection—have led to rising rates of depression and anxiety for students in addition to compounding racial disparities in learning opportunities nationwide.

  • Local support: $30,000 to El Sistema Santa Cruz to reconnect with students in afterschool classical ensemble music education to support healing, academic performance for elementary age children, and help them build music literacy, self confidence, teamwork, and social responsibility. We are proud to partner with incredible youth development advocates and provide $686,000 in funding overall to organizations that will help youth heal from the isolation, anxiety and hopelessness of the last year.

Exacerbated homelessness crisis

Even with local, state, and national measures trying to prevent evictions, huge unemployment and reduced hours combined with high rent costs, cumulative back rent, and lack of affordable housing has plunged thousands of families into homelessness in every state.

  • Local support: $50,000 to Families in Transition to help support more than 300 families stay housed, find permanent housing, and provide unique and tailored services for families experiencing generational poverty and housing instability. Additionally, family resource centers around the county are working each day with additional 2021 Community Grants to help people find and keep housing.

Isolated and hungry seniors

In addition to suffering extreme isolation and food insecurity, nearly 1 million U.S. workers age 55 and older lost jobs during the pandemic and are being rehired more slowly as the economy reopens.

  • Local support: $50,000 to Grey Bears, Inc. to help serve their clients which increased by 44% over the last year. Food insecurity for seniors is a leading health issue locally, and Grey Bears improves the health and well-being of seniors through food distribution, door-to-door meal deliveries, and volunteerism. We are so grateful to the many senior services providers that we fund who have found caring ways to connect with seniors all year.

Learn more about the effective nonprofits who are helping people heal & recover

All 2021 Community Grant Awardees