The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2015 HOPE Awards. The honorees include local philanthropists Jim Kearns, the Garden Club of Santa Barbara and Village Properties.


Jim Kearns

The HOPE Awards honor individuals, organizations and businesses that have made a significant contribution to public education.

Kearns had a belief that all children in the Santa Barbara public school system should have access to high-quality arts programs. Beginning as an anonymous donor, he funded transformational arts programs at the city’s most economically disadvantaged schools. Today, the Incredible Children’s Art Network (iCAN) is in eight Santa Barbara elementary schools.

In 2003, the Garden Club of Santa Barbara gave the initial funds to start the Green Schools Program at a single school in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Through continued support from the Garden Club and the involvement of the Orfalea Foundation that program, now called the School Gardens Program, is the largest such program in the United States serving more than 40,000 students in Santa Barbara County.

A premier local real estate firm, Village Properties understood the importance for a community to have strong schools and well-educated youth and took action, establishing the Teachers Fund to help local K-12 teachers buy needed supplies and books. Since its inception in 2002, the Village Properties Teacher’s Fund has awarded more than $1.5 million to more than 2,600 dedicated teachers; 100 percent of the donations go directly to funding the classroom.

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation will present this year’s HOPE Awards from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at a benefit to be held at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. The keynote speaker for the event will be William Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“This marks the first time that a chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities has addressed a group in Santa Barbara,” foundation board chair Craig Price said, “and we are both thrilled and honored that Mr. Adams has chosen to speak at our event and to share his unique perspective and thoughts on the importance of public education.”

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is a nonprofit celebrating 30 years of supporting the programs and initiatives of the Santa Barbara Unified School District; raising private funds to provide each student with an innovative, world-class education.

The event is open to the public. For tickets and additional information, contact Jamie Baker 805.284.9125 at, or visit the Santa Barbara Education Foundation website by clicking here.

— Jamie Baker is the development director for the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.