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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 11:00 am | Fair 61º


Orfalea Foundation Launches Two-Year Project to Document Philanthropic Progress

For more than a decade, the Orfalea Foundation has provided private funds for public good, concentrated mainly in Santa Barbara County. The foundation has amassed significant quantitative and qualitative data about its work in early childhood education, school food reform, educational investments, disaster readiness and youth development.

Over the next two years, the foundation plans to package and share knowledge collected from innovative, on-the-ground practices in Santa Barbara County with stakeholders at the state and national level.

“The outcomes and lessons from these investments and strategic initiatives are of interest to non-profits, funders, and policy-makers alike,” says Orfalea Foundation President Lois Mitchell, who has served at the helm of the nonprofit since its inception in the year 2000.

Co-founder and chairwoman Natalie Orfalea adds, “Both in reflection and looking forward, there is much to celebrate. Witnessing systemic changes in as diverse and challenging a community as ours convinces me we can influence important issues on an even broader scale. For example, Santa Barbara County early childhood education centers achieve accreditation at five times the California average, and we know that there are many other communities that want to learn how to reach similar outcomes.”

According to Orfalea, “Our first priority is sustaining the critical components of our partners’ local work and its cultural effects. Then, highlighting and building upon those achievements to encourage state and national level engagement.”

The foundation has compiled data through pre- and post- surveys, onsite evaluations and third-party assessments, and will be thoroughly analyzing this information and sharing it with stakeholders locally and nationally.

Asked to comment on the value of the foundation’s plan to widely distribute what it has learned, Orfalea board member and Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee Chair Peter MacDougall stated, “The Orfalea brand has become synonymous with community change and enhancement. When you realize how much has been accomplished at so many levels, it demonstrates how dedicated and inspired individuals can truly make a difference.”

— Dean Zatkowsky is the communications manager for the Orfalea Foundation.

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