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The McCune Foundation Fuels Community Organizing

Funds were distributed to a variety of local organizations

The McCune Foundation has just awarded more than $300,000 for community organizing and social justice initiatives in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Groups in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria are among 11 organizations that received grants in May to organize residents in voicing their concerns about farmworker rights, juvenile justice, mental health and other vital issues.

“During these challenging times, it is even more critical for those who are economically and politically disenfranchised to have a voice in shaping public policies that affect them,” said Sara Miller McCune, the foundation’s president and founder.

Oaxacan farmworkers, tenants and family members of those suffering from mental illness and substance use are among those who find their voice through involvement with groups like Centro de Unidad Popular Benito Juarez, Pueblo Education Fund, and Families ACT!. Grant dollars provided by the McCune Foundation will pay for operating expenses, salaries for community organizers, and other program expenses to continue these and other efforts.

The McCune Foundation was established in 1990 by Sara and George McCune, the founders of SAGE Publications Inc. in Thousand Oaks. In recent years, the Foundation has focused its grantmaking exclusively in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties with the mission of being an agent of productive change in society by supporting the growth of social capital in communities.

Grassroots organizations that meet the foundation’s funding guidelines and that are interested in being considered for a grant may submit a letter of inquiry by the next deadline on July 10. Click here for details on applying for a grant.

During the past 12 months, the foundation provided 23 grants totaling more than $650,000.

Grants Awarded in May 2009

» Alliance for Justice, $15,000 for the Nonprofit Advocacy Project to provide advocacy trainings, technical assistance, and other resources to organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

» Centro de Unidad Popular Benito Juarez, $25,000 a year for two years for Mixtecacion: Mixteco Translation and Resource Empowerment Project, which will include a centralized office in Santa Maria where Mixteco families can obtain help from indigenous leaders and volunteers and for a translator/organizer to provide translation services and organize the community to improve health care and human services for farmworkers and their families.

» Conflict Solutions Center, $15,000 for the Restorative Justice Partnership Initiative, which would engage a community coalition of young people, parents, and neighborhood leaders in promoting Restorative Justice responses to youth crime in Santa Maria.

» Families ACT!, $10,000 for a community organizing campaign to give voice to Santa Barbara families that seek changes in the mental health and criminal justice systems to better serve their family members suffering from mental illness and substance use.

» Future Leaders of America, $30,000 a year for two years for operating expenses and the Youth of California Making Change program to develop 100 youth activists in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties to impact the community through civic engagement.

» Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, $10,000 for Board and staff development training for organization that supports community organizing work among indigenous Oaxacan farm workers in Ventura County.

» Pacific Pride Foundation, $12,500 for Strategic Alliance for Marriage Equality, a project to motivate and promote local activism in support of marriage equality and civil rights for the gay community at the local, state, and national level.

» Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, (Bici Centro), $20,000 for engaging bicycle commuters, including cyclists at Bici Centro, a collectively run, nonprofit bike shop, in outreach efforts around cycling issues.

» Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, $19,537 for Yes in Our Backyard, an effort to build a coalition of leaders from faith communities, the homeless community and other Ventura residents to decriminalize homelessness and seek resources to end homelessness in the City of Ventura.

Second-year funding for grants awarded May 2008:

» Public Health Foundation Enterprises Inc., (Just Communities), $50,000 for general operating support for development of the Youth Organizers program and expansion of alumni and family networks.

» Pueblo Education Fund, $50,000 for operating support for the multi-issue grassroots membership organization mobilizing low-income residents of Santa Barbara County to work for social and economic justice.

— Claudia Armann is executive director of the McCune Foundation.

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