After many years of community involvement in Santa Barbara, Connie Smith and Sandra Tyler began to explore their interest in global issues, which led them to their first conference on global giving.

Global Neighborhood Fund of Santa Barbara founders Sandra Tyler and Connie Smith with women at the Think Rehabilitation Home in Liberia.

Global Neighborhood Fund of Santa Barbara founders Sandra Tyler and Connie Smith with women at the Think Rehabilitation Home in Liberia. (Santa Barbara Foundation photo)

The challenges, great needs and value of a broader view of their neighborhood expanding beyond the community they live in became apparent. They were intrigued by the model of a collective giving group; one that would be volunteer-based and focused on grassroots to grassroots efforts. They wanted to focus and direct their philanthropy toward the most disenfranchised — namely, women and children in the global south — and knew the collective giving model would be the best vehicle for them.

Smith and Tyler shared this vision with Nancy Koppelman, who had just returned from Liberia. Her enthusiasm reaffirmed what the women were already thinking, and the Global Neighborhood Fund of Santa Barbara was born.

In their inaugural grantmaking year, the Global Neighborhood Fund has announced $37,500 in grants to five organizations in support of revitalizing the war-torn country of Liberia:

» Made in Liberia — $5,000 to provide women with access to information on personal, financial and technical skills training through the Right to Work Training Program. Program graduates will be given full-time employment with benefits.

» Tiyatien Health — $10,000 to provide Frontline Health Workers, who will deliver much-needed health-care treatments to people living in rural communities.

» Face Africa — $10,000 to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to rural communities in Liberia.

» West Point Women — $2,500 to provide a capital investment and opportunity to learn technical skills such as sewing that will support development of economic empowerment.

» Think Rehabilitation Home — $10,000 to provide for shelter, medical care, vocational skills training, parenting and child-care classes, life skills training, and education on prevention and response to gender-based violence for girls with social problems and who are survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

The Think Rehabilitation Home grant was made possible because of a Global Neighborhood Fund member who chose to give anonymously through her Santa Barbara Foundation donor-advised fund.

“Through our membership we have brought Liberia to our neighborhood, educating ourselves about their history with truly exciting results,” Smith said. “We have contributed to bringing clean water and latrines to a very impoverished village, health care to rural communities, and economic empowerment and social and economic rehabilitation to women and girls.”

The founders of the Global Neighborhood Fund wanted a flexible way to manage their philanthropy. They came to the Santa Barbara Foundation with a need — an exciting concept they wanted to implement and make a reality. They were familiar with the foundation’s level of expertise in directing philanthropic efforts, and Philanthropic Services staff directed them toward an ideal opportunity — a field of interest fund. Through the field of interest fund, the Global Neighborhood Fund became a collective giving group, allowing other members of the community to participate in and learn about issues surrounding global giving.

“Giving internationally is a growing trend for community foundations,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “Donors continue to give locally, but many realize that participating in international projects benefit not only those directly affected by their grants, but all of us in this evermore interconnected world. The Santa Barbara Foundation is pleased to partner with these engaged citizens, responding to the individual needs of donors, empowering them to make the change they wish to see in the world.”

Click here to become a member of the Global Neighborhood Fund.

— Jessica Tade is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Foundation.