Credit: Elkhorn Slough Foundation

2024 Community Grants

$1.9 million in Community Grants to Help Santa Cruz County Thrive

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County awarded $1.97 million to 92 local nonprofits including those supporting the health and wellbeing of youth, seniors, and families, contributors to our arts and culture ecosystem, and partners working toward a sustainable and resilient Santa Cruz County where all can thrive.

Annual grants are made possible thanks to the generosity of dozens of families who have entrusted the Community Foundation with their charitable visions or made a gift to the Greatest Needs Fund. That includes the extraordinary legacy of the Borina family who’s giving to support the Pajaro Valley for years to come is a cornerstone of the Community Grants program. The organizations receiving grants benefit from the flexibility to applying funds where they’re needed most, rather than for restricted purposes.

Kevin Heuer, Director of Engagement and Impact, said, “The charitable funds that families have established here serve as our community’s permanent resource for addressing the issues of today and tomorrow. Our Community Grants fund community solutions that improve the quality of life here. This year’s record investment is supporting a diverse group of nonprofits we see as trusted performers and creative solvers of local challenges.

All told, the $2 million serves as an infusion toward a more resilient and equitable future for Santa Cruz County and those who call it home.”

Credit: Teen Kitchen Project

Flexible Funding to Meet Needs in Real Time

Teen Kitchen Project, one of this year’s grantees, engages about 45 youth each week in the preparation of medically tailored meals that are delivered to over 300 clients. Executive Director Angela Farley said, “The flexibility of unrestricted funding is essential for us. General operating support allows us to put the funds where they are most needed most so that we can respond to the needs of the community in real time.”

“While we continue to offer core support to frontline service providers, we’re also investing in smaller nonprofits that are working to strengthen their strategy, connect deeply with community, and scale their programs to meet increased needs,” said CEO Susan True.

Jamey King, co-founder of Mountains 2 Sea (MTNS2SEA), an outdoor adventure learning program for youth enrolled in alternative education program, is ready to expand beyond their two-person team to meet the growing demand. “Expanding our team is bringing new ideas, new energy, and the opportunity to serve more youth. The flexible general operating support provided by the Community Grant allows us to evolve in the area our organization needs most, and right now it's growing our team.”

Protecting the People and Places We Love

The Community Grants help protect the people and places we love through supporting nonprofits that work on youth and senior wellbeing and water and climate resilience. Examples include:

  • Helping youth that need the most support to thrive: CASA of Santa Cruz County will further refine and expand their Juvenile Justice program so they can offer an advocate to every single youth in the local system. Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos is scaling their cultural education and leadership development programs. Mountains 2 Sea is growing their staff to meet the expanding need as they support mental and physical health for youth through challenging activities. Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County will work to recruit and train 100 new volunteer mentors in 12 months to meet the needs of growing youth enrollments. Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy Program continues to grow and serve as a healthy outlet, safe space, tutoring center, and mentoring program.
  • Providing elders with connection, community, and essential services: Hospice of Santa Cruz County is continuing to grow their Latino Outreach programs with a focus on trust building and partnerships with patients, families, and Latino serving organizations. Health Projects Center will expand in-home senior care management programs to assist more low-income individuals and extend their reach into rural and underserved communities. Senior Citizens Organization of the San Lorenzo Valley will expand the hours of the senior center to help develop programming and manage daily operations.
  • Conservation of climate resilient and culturally-significant lands: The Elkhorn Slough Foundation will scale restoration projects that promote greater climate resilience and mitigate wildfire threats to communities like Las Lomas and Pajaro. Amah Mutsun Land Trust will be strengthening their organizational capacity to chart the course for land acquisition, communications, and Tribal land stewardship. Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship will continue work building 19 miles of new trails at Cotoni-Coast Dairies, a new National Monument on the Santa Cruz Coast.
  • Supporting the arts community: Pajaro Valley Arts will build staff capacity to support their expansion goals, particularly on-site education programs and the remodeling of the 12,000 square foot Porter Building which they purchased debt free in 2022. Watsonville Film Festival is growing their team to curate and present a powerful and inspiring film program all year round. Community grants are also providing key sponsorships to the 2024 seasons for the Santa Cruz Symphony, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Meet our 2024 Community Grantees

View list of current grant partners