Legacies: Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, photos by Brad Eliot, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, photos by Brad Eliot, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Helping Students Pursue a College Education

By Leslie Dinaberg

“A project of immeasurable potential benefit to the young men and women of this community is the one now being organized as the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation,” reported the Santa Barbara News-Press on June 14, 1962. 

Now 46 years later, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (it was renamed in 1993) has grown and thrived, helping more than 23,000 students pursue a college education. 

With college costs going up every year—now the University of California averages $24,000 per year and private colleges or universities can cost upwards from $40,000 per year—there’s no doubt that the Scholarship Foundation has been incredibly valuable to the community and its services are needed now more than ever.

Started by a group of PTA parents, teachers and counselors, and the American Association of University Women, the Scholarship Foundation gave out nine $100 scholarships in 1963. 

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

“One of the driving forces in getting the group started was Annette Slavin, now deceased. Two of Annette’s children are still in town—realtor Steve Slavin and La Cumbre Junior High Principal JoAnn Caines,” says executive director Colette Hadley. “The Scholarship Foundation’s first fundraising event was a New Year’s Eve party at Annette’s house.”

The foundation was an all-volunteer organization for 14 years. Carolyn Ferguson was the first employee, part-time executive director, after being involved as a volunteer, says Hadley.  “Gail Towbes was another volunteer and the first director of development. … She talked about planned gifts and that sort of thing long before anybody did that. Now 20 years later some of those gifts are starting to come to fruition.” 

Along with bake sales and parties, the 1970s heralded a series of Los Angles Lakers Basketball benefit games to raise money for scholarships, while people like Michael Towbes, Richard Welch and Jim Black worked to bring a business-like approach to the board. “Attorney Arthur Gaudi brought us our first major gift when a client of his left us a farm in Iowa. It sold at that time for about $400,000 which was a princely sum,” says Hadley.

Santa Barbara Seasons Spring 2009 cover.

Santa Barbara Seasons Spring 2009 cover.

In the 1980s, the foundation raised money with “Wickets and Mallets,” an elegant croquet tournament held at the Klinger Estate in Hope Ranch, and in 1992 the first Concours d’Elegance classic car show was held to benefit the foundation, bringing new donors and even more attention to the organization. In that decade assets increased from $2.4 million to $16.5 million and annual awards went from $363,484 to $2.1 million, buoyed by gifts of $2 million each from the Cavalletto Family and Lillian and Lawrence Smith.

Each year the scholarships have increased. In 2008 the foundation awarded $8.6 million in student aid and helped more than 3,300 students attend college. One of those awards went to Stacey Lydon, who got her undergraduate degree at University of California Los Angeles, and is now in graduate school at University of California San Diego. “The scholarship from the foundation has made a very positive impact on my professional progress,” says Lydon.  

“With the scholarship I was able to take my dream internship with Network for Africa, and not have to worry about juggling a demanding school schedule, hours at an internship and time at a job, which may pay the bills but not really provide any career-enhancing experience.  I have been working with Network for Africa for almost a year now, and was able to travel with them to Rwanda this past summer.  … I couldn’t have done it without the scholarship.”

According to director of development Rebecca Anderson, 83 percent of Scholarship Foundation recipients complete their intended degree, compared to the national average of 52 percent. “Having that community foundation behind you is incredibly motivating,” she says.

Support from the Scholarship Foundation allowed Dr. Daniel Brennan to come back to his hometown as a pediatrician. “I feel so fortunate to be able to care for the children in the very community in which I was raised,” he says.  “It is an amazing privilege to care for the children of my former classmates.  It is even more special that I am able to practice pediatrics side by side with my own childhood pediatrician, Dr. Ernest Kolendrianos.”

That kind of personal touch is evident in the way the foundation does business—every eligible student is personally interviewed by either a board member or a trained volunteer—and as Hadley points out, these days it’s not just very low income families, but also middle income families that need assistance to afford college. “We do our best to make sure that everyone that wants to go to college has the opportunity to go.” 

Originally published in the Spring 2009 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Click below to read the story as it appeared in print.

Seasons_SP09_FCR + Legacies

Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Ken Saxon

Ken Saxon

Ken Saxon

Since arriving in town 12 years ago, Ken Saxon has served on the boards of some our most successful community endeavors, including the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation. Now he’s taking his experience with the unique challenges nonprofit leaders face and using it to develop a new program called “Courage to Lead.”

LD: What first brought you to Santa Barbara?

KS: My wife Jo and I moved here when our twins were 1-1/2 years old. We felt that this would be a great place to raise children and it’s really turned out to be that. I remember we came at the beginning of June and two days after we showed up was the second annual Big Dog Parade … and a couple of weeks later was Solstice and then there was July 4th and then there was Fiesta and we just thought this town was one giant parade just to welcome us to Santa Barbara.

LD: I know you left a business in the Bay Area. What is your business now?

KS: What I’ve been doing for most of the last 12 years is I’ve taken my business skills and applied them to the nonprofit sector, mostly as a volunteer. … The venture that I’m most involved with right now is a program called Courage to Lead. I’ve worked with a lot of nonprofit executive leaders, and one of the conclusions that I’ve come to from this dozen years of experience of working with them, is that I think they have a harder job than business leaders because business leaders have one bottom line they are managing to. Nonprofit leaders have at least two: a financial bottom line and a social benefit bottom line. At the same time they have less resources to draw upon and also a lot less has been invested in them.

… Also I find that nonprofit leaders are very isolated from one another. Sometimes there’s a sense that only they know what the challenges are and sometimes there’s a sense of competition. … So I helped to develop Courage to Lead. … The goal is to nurture and support them in renewing themselves and in rekindling their passion and commitment for their work. And because it’s done in a group in retreat over time, they build a deep community and they provide each other with mutual support and inspiration. … The program is based on the work of a national group called the Center for Courage and Renewal.

LD: What stage are you in the development of the program?

KS: We are launching a group this year that’s going to start in November and they are going to meet quarterly in retreat for at least a year up in Mount Calvary Retreat Center for two days at a time. … From May 7-9th, we’ve arranged for an introductory retreat … people who are potentially interested are invited to come and experience what one of these retreats is like.

LD: Is there a religious or a spiritual component to it?

KS: There’s not a religious component. Spiritual is always a challenging word because it means so many different things to different people, but yes, there’s a spiritual component in that people are given opportunities and time for reflection and inspiration relative to core questions of meaning and mission and passion and they are given space to reflect and hear their inner voice and to tap into what it is that most motivates them in life that they want to do in the world. And I would call that a spiritual. But the text and things that we use most often is actually poetry and other inspired readings that help people think about their careers and their lives on a deeper level, rather than kind of a religious text.

LD: How will you select people the first people?

KS: We have gone out to leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic world and we have asked for nominations of nonprofit leaders that they feel would benefit from this experience given who they are and where they are in their careers. But it is also open for application. We have a website that is CourageToLeadNP.org, where people can get more information about it. … We talk about environmental sustainability but there’s a big discussion as the nonprofit sector continues to grow it’s filling a huge need in our society, but whether we can run it in a way that is sustainable, rather than just burning everybody out. That’s a tough question. I’d like Courage to Lead to be part of the answer.

LD: I think you have a unique perspective in that you’re still in your 40s and able to devote yourself to nonprofit work fulltime.

KS: Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean that other people can’t be involved. The Katherine Harvey Fellows are an example. Another example is Craig Zimmerman and I created a group called FUND, Families Uniting to Nurture Dreams. There are 20 families with children who are mostly between the ages of 6 and 16, and we got together partly to raise college scholarships for local kids, but the biggest thing that we do is we create opportunities for our children to learn about the community and really about their world through hands-on ways of getting involved in the community.

… Our group the last three years has partnered in something called Project Healthy Neighbors that is done by Casa Esperanza and Santa Barbara County and Doctors Without Borders … they put on a health fair to try to try to attract the local homeless population to come in and get check ups, to get their immunizations and to get referred out to other services that they might need … (My son Griffin) was down with me at Casa Esperanza handing out the bags to the people that came through.

…The only way I know people in town is either through my kids, their school, but mostly it’s through volunteerism, the nonprofit boards and so on and what a generally terrific group of people. I’ve developed so many relationships with people that I like and respect through volunteering.

Some people move here and want to engage and other people move here and want to hide out and that’s fine and that’s their choice, but it’s awfully fun to engage.

Vital Stats: Ken Saxon

Born: Baltimore, Maryland, January 9, 1962.

Family: Wife Jo and 13-year old twins Griffin and Hope.

Civic Involvement: Courage to Lead; Santa Barbara Foundation; Katherine Harvey Fellows Program; Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation; Santa Barbara Middle School; Eleos Foundation: Unitarian Society; FUND (Families United to Nurture Dreams); Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.

Professional Accomplishments: “I ran a business in the Bay Area for a dozen years (FARM, First American Records Management) that was acknowledged as both a financial success and a really fine place to work and really good at customer service and I’ve been a volunteer leader here. I approach things like, as the chair of the scholarship foundation, I didn’t approach that in any way differently than being board chair of my company. … I do look at my volunteer service here as professional.”

Little-Known Fact: “My kids perform in this musical theatre group called the Adderly School, and a year or two ago they created an opportunity for parents who were willing to subject themselves to it to have the same experience as their kids did, and so I was up on stage for three nights at Victoria Hall in ‘Mama Mia.’ … I performed on stage for the first time since 8th grade and the last time.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on March 18, 2008.

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007