In a sign of the times, this year’s Santa Barbara Partners in Education breakfast focused less on the Computers for Families program and more on volunteerism. But it wasn’t entirely a result of the current economy.

For one thing, the ambitious sustainability campaign for Computers for Families is now closing in on its $4 million target. Thanks to a $125,000 challenge grant from Bacara Resort & Spa, the campaign is within $125,000 of ensuring the program’s continuity without further fundraising. At Wednesday’s breakfast at Earl Warren Showgrounds, it was announced that another $35,000 had been collected.

George Wolverton, publisher of the Pacific Coast Business Times and vice president of the Partners in Education board of directors, said a $25,000 donation had arrived last week. On Wednesday morning, CFF received a $10,000 check from the Bank of America Foundation through David Prichard, market president of U.S. Trust Bank of America.

But the morning’s theme was volunteerism and board president Kathy Boomer, Goleta Union School District superintendent, thanked the business and education leaders in attendance for all of the volunteer work they and their organizations do on behalf of Partners in Education. The early response to the partnership’s volunteer program has been exciting, she said.

“So far, we’ve had 789 volunteers contribute 1,000 hours of service,” Boomer said. “At that pace, we’ll have a fantastic first year.”

Contributing to the program’s early success has been seed funding from the Santa Barbara Foundation in the form of a $40,000 grant and the Orfalea Fund’s three-year, $170,000 commitment to Partners in Education, of which $30,000 is earmarked for volunteer outreach.

Michelle Magnusson, volunteer coordinator at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, outlined the many ways that companies can get involved, contributing as much or as little as they can manage. Emphasizing how simple it is to participate, she said it was all about “your area of expertise. And we’re talking about third graders, so pretty much every area is your area of expertise.”

Among the opportunities to volunteer are:

» Hosting a student intern at the workplace

» Job shadowing

» Mentoring

» Reading to and with students

» Computers and technology instruction

» Arts, music and sports programs

» Mock job interviews

» Office and library help

» Donations, such as gift certificates, prizes for student contests, food and clothing

» Guest speaking in the classroom

» Speaking at Career Day, which is Feb. 12 at Santa Barbara High, 700 E. Anapamu St.

» In-school and after-school tutoring

» Gardening with students

» Facilities improvements and campus cleanups

» Chaperoning field trips

» Playing games or sports at lunchtime

» Sponsoring or advising a student club

» Special events

Click here to sign up as a volunteer or contact Magnusson at 805.964.4711 x4417 or e-mail her at

Chuck Slosser, the newly retired president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation and the event’s keynote speaker, called for further collaboration, noting that the economic times demand it and suggesting that it was a road map for the future.

“We have more needs in our community and fewer resources,” he said, pointing to Computers for Families as a successful model to follow into other areas of need. “We have a community of size and scale that we can tackle any issue we want.”

Among Wednesday’s breakfast sponsors were the Partners in Education’s President’s Council Members: Noozhawk, ABC-CLIO, American Riviera Bank, ATK Space Systems, Bacara Resort & Spa, Bank of America, Cojo-Jalama Ranch, Community West Bank, Cottage Health System, Cox Communications, ExxonMobil Corp., Frank Schipper Construction Co., MedBridge Development, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank N.A., Raytheon, Santa Barbara Axxess, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Catering Co., Southern California Edison and Venoco Inc.

Write to

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.