The Coastal Fund, UC Santa Barbara Associated Students has awarded a $6,920 grant to United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun-Summer of Service program.

The grant will support the efforts of 13 FITS-SOS-qualified (incoming sixth- through ninth-graders, low-income, at-risk, at or below proficient in school academics) participants who will be involved in a coastal- and beach-related service-learning project in the surrounding UCSB area for seven weeks from June to August. The FITS-SOS program is part of UWSBC’s more extensive, Santa Barbara countywide program called Fun in the Sun.

In alignment with the Coastal Fund’s mission to “to preserve, protect and enhance the terrestrial and marine habitats associated with the shoreline of the University of California, Santa Barbara through preservation, education, open access, research and restoration,” the UCSB FITS-SOS summer project will focus on researching, improving and developing new methods of beach enhancement and preservation for UCSB’s surrounding beaches while also gaining the local community’s support by providing volunteer opportunities and through the students’ advocacy efforts.

In alignment with service-learning standards, FITS-SOS students will be able to improve the environmental conditions of UCSB’s surrounding beaches through their student-driven project, and gain knowledge and develop skills in beach preservation, conservation and improvement.

This unique partnership also will help FITS-SOS students develop leadership, interpersonal and problem-solving skills while positively changing the conditions of UCSB’s beaches in a team setting.

— Jeanette Delgado is the grants coordinator for United Way of Santa Barbara County.