Children have been reading with Isla Vista Youth Projects staff since 1971, and the nonprofit educational organization has officially secured a permanent location at its single-story building on Phelps Road in Goleta.
The community-based agency IVYP no longer has to scramble to find another spot, nearly 13 years after it lost its original home in the hub of Isla Vista
“We always had this fear that if we weren’t able to own this space, we could get bumped again,” said LuAnn Miller, the executive director of IVYP since 1986. “It’s ours, and we are happy.”
The nonprofit got an opportunity to purchase the building itself when the Orfalea Foundation sunset.
A $1.1 million loan was acquired the the IVYP launched a $1.9 million fundraising campaign to eliminate the mortgage and secure complete ownership of the Children’s Center facility.
IVYP started its “$300K for $300K Match Campaign” to qualify for a matching grant and reached its goal in time.
“Sometime this week or next week we hope to have a piece of paper that says ‘it’s yours,’” Isla Vista Youth Project volunteer and board secretary Arthur Kennedy said on Tuesday.
Securing the property allows IVYP to continue their year-round, full day care and education programs in the community.
“A lot of people did not know children are living in Isla Vista,” Miller said. “Campaigning helped the broader community understand this gem.”
The Children’s Center began as a small program at a local church serving preschool age children.
It has grown to become a nationally accredited program serving 185 infants, toddlers and preschool children annually.
The Children’s Center serves Isla Vista and Goleta children up to 6 years old, 70 percent of whom come from a low-income background.
As a state-licensed child development program, the Children’s Center provides low-cost professional child-care and educational programs.
Miller emphasized the importance of ensuring education opportunities for all children.
“Education shouldn’t matter about your address, income level or what language you speak,” Miller said. “I want to eliminate all those barriers — making it possible for all children to have a good strong foundation is one thing that these projects do best.”
The center features three playgrounds and seven classrooms.
Handmade art displays made by infants and toddlers hang on the center’s walls, the playground is dominated by toys and coloring supplies fill the classroom cubby areas.
According to IVYP’s annual 2015-16 report, the Children’s Center provided more than 200,000 hours of programing, served more than 63,000 meals to kids each year and assessed all children with a universal screening to help identify special needs.
The report states that 87 percent are children of color, 93 percent are children raised by a working parent, and 42 percent are raised by a single parent.
More than half of IVYP’s funding is received from the California Department of Education and Santa Barbara County (65 percent), followed by fundraising (14 percent), program fees (11 percent) and grants (10 percent).
Securing a permanent location allows the nonprofit to brainstorm about expanding services.
More than 100 kids are on the waiting list, Miller said.
“Our goal is to be responsive to the community need,” Miller said. “The Children’s Center is an important foundation for a child’s continued success in school. IVYP has stayed true to its vision.”
Community members are invited to celebrate the Children’s Center purchase at a May 4 event with tacos and drinks from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the UC Santa Barbara Mosher Alumni House.
“Taco ‘Bout a Party” tickets are $30 per person and to RSVP or get more information, contact IVYP consultant Tyler Speier at email@example.com.