Rise Together Celebrates $400,000 in New Grants

Rise Together Santa Cruz County–an intercultural multi-generational coalition working together to support the vision and action needed to build a more just and equitable County–is thrilled to announce $400,000 in new grants.

An Expanding Circle

Rise Together was founded in June of 2020 by a team from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and 17 local leaders of color. The original group has expanded to 32 community organizers, social justice and arts leaders, journalists, indigenous cultural practitioners, public servants, storytellers, social workers, healthcare professionals, youth mentors and educators, funders, and immigrant advocates.

Collaboratively, the Rise Together coalition developed its purpose and goals, determined the grant making process, and made award decisions.

Rise Together grants support the group’s five goals: increase upward economic mobility; celebrate, and preserve the stories and culture of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian American communities; increase equity and anti-racist policy; deliver essential services and improve well-being for People of Color to prosper; and continuously give and grow sustained funding for communities of color.

Community Generosity Sustains Action

Grant money comes from the Rise Together Fund for Racial Equity at the Community Foundation, made possible by community donations. This latest round of grants builds on $423,000 awarded in 2021.

This year’s grants will both sustain work started last year and launch new projects that leaders had dreamed of but not yet had the funding to make come to life. Awards will help volunteer-led organizations grow by hiring paid staff, help kids develop video and storytelling skills, strengthen families as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic, and celebrate arts and culture in our region.

“When we hear the words ‘racial equity,’ the meaning can feel both overwhelming and unclear. Rise Together shows us a path forward that is inclusive and actions that our whole community can take so that all residents have what we need to thrive.”

- Susan True, Community Foundation CEO

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band received funding to develop a new program to grow and distribute native foods to the tribal community. Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band said, " Thanks to the Rise Together grant, our tribe will hire a tribal member to develop our food sovereignty program and continue the work of caring for the lands of our relatives."

A grant for Housing Santa Cruz County will help build capacity for promoting and advocating for affordable housing. Executive Director Elaine Johnson said, “We all agree that we need to increase affordable housing inventory and equitable access. To accomplish this, we need to align contributions across multiple stakeholders and be inclusive to those in need of affordable housing including the most vulnerable.”

Bella Bonner, Executive Director of Black Surf Club Santa Cruz notes that unrestricted funding the organization received will be essential to building infrastructure for the new nonprofit. “Our programs emphasize joy and liberation and aim to increase mental well-being, feelings of belonging and psychological safety, and the number of BILPOC enjoying surfing and associated outdoor and coastal recreational activities. The support of our community and Rise Together is crucial in our organization's development and ability to increase our capacity.”

For Ruby Vasquez, a teacher in Pajaro Valley Unified School District and leader of the folklorico dance troupe Estrellas de Esperanza, the Rise Together grant will help her students connect with veteran dancers from Esperanza del Valle to share stories and learn about the importance of maintaining dance traditions in our community. Members from the two groups will then travel to Veracruz Mexico to learn directly from master instructors. She said, “This will truly be a cross generational, cross cultural experience! The opportunity to highlight local veteran dancers to share their insights and passion with younger dancers will be a unique experience. Rise Together support is helping to make a dream become a reality.”

2022 Rise Together grants

View the full list

Rise Together Santa Cruz County members: Angela Chambers; Ashlyn N. Adams; Brenda Griffin; Carmin Powell, MD; Cat Willis; Chairman Valentin Lopez; Consuelo Alba; DeAndre’ James; Elaine Johnson; Erica Padilla-Chavez; Esabella Bonner; Fe Silva-Robles; Gina Castañeda; Helen Aldana; Jacob Martinez; Jaime Molina; Jennifer Herrera; Jenny Kurzweil; Jorge Savala; Justin Cummings, PhD; Kara Meyberg Guzman; Keisha Browder; Kevin Heuer; Maria Ramos Bracamontes; MariaElena De La Garza; Nereida Robles Vasquez, PhD; Rebecca Hernandez, PhD; Ruby Vasquez; Stacey Marie Garcia, Stephanie Barron Lu; Susan True and Thomas Sage Pedersen