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Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Awards $470,000 in Grants to 7 Nonprofits

Recipients include Academy for Success, Doctors Without Walls, Easy Lift, Garden Court, Isla Vista Public Improvement Corp., Isla Vista Youth Projects and TRADART Foundation

From left, Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara grant recipients Frank Schipper, board president of TRADART Foundation; Maria Long, executive director of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine; LuAnn Miller, executive director of Isla Vista Youth Projects; Chris Tucker, executive director of Garden Court Inc.; Kelly Choi, executive director of The Academy for Success; Rodney Gould, general manager of Isla Vista Recreation & Park District; and Ernesto Paredes, executive director of Easy LIft Transportation.
From left, Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara grant recipients Frank Schipper, board president of TRADART Foundation; Maria Long, executive director of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine; LuAnn Miller, executive director of Isla Vista Youth Projects; Chris Tucker, executive director of Garden Court Inc.; Kelly Choi, executive director of The Academy for Success; Rodney Gould, general manager of Isla Vista Recreation & Park District; and Ernesto Paredes, executive director of Easy LIft Transportation. (Gail Arnold / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

At its 12th annual Presentation of Grants Reception at The Fess Parker on Monday, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded $470,000 to seven local nonprofit organizations.

An all-volunteer, collective donor group with 668 members, the Women’s Fund combines the donations of its members into significant grants focused on the critical needs of women, children and families in south Santa Barbara County.

Over an eight-month period, its research committee conducts in-depth research of programs at local nonprofit organizations and submits a ballot of organization finalists to the general membership for a vote on the ultimate grantees.

According to steering committee chairwoman Nancy Harter, “we strive to be educated, strategic givers working to make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in our community.”

The minimum grant size is $50,000.

“We give large grants, frequently for programs that wouldn’t be funded by others,” Harter said. “We are flexible — funding start-ups, established programs and capital projects — and we look for ways to leverage our investments.”

Since its beginning in 2004, the Women’s Fund has made grants totaling more than $5.6 million to 78 programs.

Each grant recipient gave a short acceptance speech, with many of them sharing stories of individual clients served that poignantly demonstrated the needs in the community and how their organizations are serving those needs. All spoke of the tremendous impact the large grant will have on the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.

The grant recipients were:

Back row from left, research committee member Mary Genis, finance chairwoman Melissa Gough, event chairwoman Stina Hans, special projects chairwoman Sallie Coughlin and web administrator Mary Garton; middle row from left, steering committee chairwoman Nancy Harter, grantee liaison Laurie Tumbler, research committee co-chairwoman Irene Stone, membership co-chairwoman Susan Johnson and research committee co-chairwoman Christine Riesenfeld; front row from left, communications co-chairwoman Sarah de Tagyos, communications co-chairwoman Susan Robeck, research committee member Jane Brechwald, site visit chairwoman Shelley Hurst and operations chairwoman Carrie Lundquist.
Back row from left, research committee member Mary Genis, finance chairwoman Melissa Gough, event chairwoman Stina Hans, special projects chairwoman Sallie Coughlin and web administrator Mary Garton; middle row from left, steering committee chairwoman Nancy Harter, grantee liaison Laurie Tumbler, research committee co-chairwoman Irene Stone, membership co-chairwoman Susan Johnson and research committee co-chairwoman Christine Riesenfeld; front row from left, communications co-chairwoman Sarah de Tagyos, communications co-chairwoman Susan Robeck, research committee member Jane Brechwald, site visit chairwoman Shelley Hurst and operations chairwoman Carrie Lundquist. (Peter de Tagyos photo)

» The Academy for Success — $60,000 to expand the mental health component of a program targeted at high school students at high risk of dropping out of school. The grant will allow the expansion from the current 25 students at one school to 200 students at all three high schools.

» Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine — $65,000 to purchase a fully outfitted mobile medical clinic to treat homeless individuals. DWW sets up clinics each week in Alameda Park and Pershing Park. The van will allow patients to have their exams and treatment performed in the privacy of the van instead of in the open-air parks. Last year, DWW had 855 visits at these clinics. It will also be used by DWW’s 24/7 on-call medical teams and by its Companion Care Program that transports patients to other health-care providers for follow-up care.

» Easy Lift Transportation — $55,000 to increase the number of rides available to low-income children for programs for educational enrichment, social activities, counseling, tutoring and camp, as well as for health-care appointments. Easy Lift works with more than 50 groups to provide rides to children who otherwise would not be able to participate in the programs. In accepting the award, Executive Director Ernesto Paredes echoed remarks made earlier by Harter regarding the size and nature of the grants awarded. “We get to dream big, a lot of foundations don’t let us do that, so thank you for letting us dream big,” Paredes said.

» Garden Court Inc. — $100,000 toward a capital campaign to build “Gardens on Hope,” a new low-income senior housing and services facility that is a collaboration between Garden Court Inc. and the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara. The facility will provide housing, meals and transportation for 113 of the more than 500 seniors on the wait list for affordable housing.

» Isla Vista Public Improvement Corporation (IV Recreation & Park District) — $65,000 to build a permanent covered outdoor center at Children’s Park for children ages 5 to 12. The after-school program, which provides homework assistance, arts and sports, is the only free program in the area for this age group. Currently, there is no covered area. The space will also be used for its monthly food distribution program.

» Isla Vista Youth Projects — $75,000 toward the purchase of the Children’s Center, which provides child care for 160 children from low-income families. The building currently in use is for sale and the grant will go toward purchasing the building at a price below market value. The need for this facility was driven home when Executive Director Luann Miller noted that there are more than 60 babies on the waitlist.

» TRADART Foundation — $50,000 to pay for materials for three “tiny houses” being built in shop classes at the three Santa Barbara high schools. The classes provide training in nearly every aspect of construction. This training can lead to dual enrollment programs at Santa Barbara City College and the opportunity to obtain a contractor’s license. The program aims to be self-sustaining by selling the houses.

Harter concluded by saying: “I applaud each and every one of you for investing in the shared vision that together we have much more impact as philanthropists than we do on our own. This year we’ve proved once more we have the ability to meet critical community needs when working together.”

Christine Riesenfeld and Irene Stone co-chaired the research committee this year. Stina Hans chaired the event.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund, or call 805.963.1873.

Noozhawk contributing writer Gail Arnold can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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