Help Secure Isla Vista Youth Projects Forever

Courtesy Isla Vista Youth Projects.

Courtesy Isla Vista Youth Projects.

I had the opportunity to visit the Isla Vista Youth Projects Children’s Center site yesterday on a Women’s Fund site visit and was so impressed by what I saw. For the 2015-16 grant cycle, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara granted them $75,000 to help them get one step closer to completing the purchase of the Children’s Center, ensuring that 160 low-income child care spaces remain available.

Coincidentally, Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP) recently launched a campaign to raise $300,000 to qualify for $300,000 in matching funds to purchase their building in Isla Vista and successfully close Phase I of their capital campaign. Along with the Children’s Center,  Isla Vista Youth Projects serves over 2000 children and families annually providing high quality childcare, education and activities for children 0 – 5 years old.

The IV Youth Projects team is racing to meet this matching fund offer by the end of 2017. To date, IVYP has already raised over $1 million for this capital campaign and a successful $300k for $300k match campaign will close out Phase I of their capital campaign.

“For over 30 years, the Isla Vista Youth Projects has offered the children of Goleta and Isla Vista a safe, healthy and vibrant place to spend their days while their parents were hard at work. This campaign ensures that we can continue to offer this service to thousands of children in the future without the threat of losing our treasured home,” says IVYP Executive Director LuAnn Miller.

“The cost of real estate and skyrocketing rents are direct threats to community serving organizations across the County of Santa Barbara and IV Youth Projects is no different. We have a rare opportunity to match every dollar raised and secure our home forever.” says IVYP Campaign Committee member Dr. Yonie Harris.

IVYP’s capital campaign has already secured support from the likes of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation, Towbes Group, DiPaola Family Foundation, Kennedy Family, Orfalea Foundation, Mosher Foundation, Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Wolfe Family, Casey Family, Cox Communications and more.
For more information on the campaign or how to donate, please, go to

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 8, 2016.


Changing Lives Together: Joyce Dudley to Keynote Women’s Fund Site Visit

Joyce Dudley, courtesy photo

Joyce Dudley, courtesy photo

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara will host a Site Visit Kick-Off on Thursday, October 29 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church (21 E. Constance Ave., Santa Barbara).  This annual event features progress reports from the seven local nonprofits that received Women’s Fund grants this past spring: Children’s Resource and Referral, Community Action Commission, Conflict Solutions Center, Mental Wellness Center, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Sarah House and Transition House.

In addition to representatives from the nonprofits, for the first time there will be a keynote speaker at the event—Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

 “Joyce knows that prevention and early intervention strategies are key to changing lives,” said Women’s Fund Chair Nancy Harter.  “For more than a decade, the Women’s Fund has researched and funded local programs with those same strategies.”

 While there is a $20 fee for Women’s Fund members to help defray costs, the event is open to guests free of charge. A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m.

 For more information and to register, go to the Women’s Fund website at

 After the October 29 Kick-Off, Women’s Fund members and guests will have the opportunity to sign up for small-group visits to the seven 2015 grantees to see first-hand how Women’s Fund grants are changing lives.  The small-group visits will be available on a first-come basis between November and February.

Donating more than $5.1 million to the local community since 2004, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara is an all-volunteer collective donor group that enables women to combine their charitable dollars into significant grants focused on the critical needs of women, children and families in south Santa Barbara County.  The Women’s Fund has grown from 68 members in 2004 to nearly 700 in 2015.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on October 27, 2015

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Grants $460,000 to Seven Local Nonprofits

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded grants to seven local nonprofits represented by, front row from left, Fran Forman of the Community Action Commission, Kristine Schwarz of New Beginnings Counseling Center and Kathleen Baushke of Transition House; back row from left, Debbie McQuade of Sarah House, Michelle Graham of the Children’s Resource & Referral, Lizzie Rodriguez of Conflict Solutions Center and Annmarie Cameron of the Mental Wellness Center. Courtesy Women's Fund of SB.

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded grants to seven local nonprofits represented by, front row from left, Fran Forman of the Community Action Commission, Kristine Schwarz of New Beginnings Counseling Center and Kathleen Baushke of Transition House; back row from left, Debbie McQuade of Sarah House, Michelle Graham of the Children’s Resource & Referral, Lizzie Rodriguez of Conflict Solutions Center and Annmarie Cameron of the Mental Wellness Center. Courtesy Women’s Fund of SB.

Seven local nonprofits received a total of $460,000 in grants from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara on Monday afternoon at the Montecito Country Club, bringing the organization’s total contributions to the community, since it began in 2004, to more than $5.1 million.

“The Women’s Fund is an all-volunteer organization based on a simple, creative model — women combining our charitable donations so we can make a larger impact in the community than most of us are able to do on our own,” Women’s Fund co-chair Sallie Coughlin said. “We give large grants, frequently for programs that wouldn’t be funded by others. We are flexible — funding startups, established proven programs and capital projects — and we look for ways to leverage our investments. Our grants allow agencies to dream big and achieve those dreams.”

Local nonprofit organizations receiving awards were Children’s Resource & Referral, the Community Action Commission, the Conflict Solutions Center, the Mental Wellness Center, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Sarah House and Transition House.

Accepting the first grant of the day was Michelle Graham, executive director of Children’s Resource & Referral. The agency received $80,000 to increase the number of child-care spaces in new, women-owned family child-care businesses.

“Tragically, there is a critical shortage of child care in our community,” Graham said. “Since 2008, Santa Barbara has lost 300 child-care spaces, primarily in family-based child-care homes. Children’s Resource & Referral has an exceptional program to recruit and train providers and increase the quality of family-based child-care programs. This grant will give us the opportunity to aggressively recruit new providers. We are confident that in one year we can regain two-thirds of the spaces lost over the last seven years, which means there will be 200 new, high-quality child-care spaces for local children.”

Fran Forman, executive director of the Community Action Commission, accepted a donation of $80,000 for the Healthy Seniors Lunch program, which will serve more than 600 low-income and disabled seniors in the coming year.

“This funding will prevent senior hunger and provide a safety net to those who need it most,” Forman said. “Each day, our chefs prepare meals that are served in senior centers and directly delivered to the homes of seniors who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Most Healthy Senior Lunch clients live on less than $16,000 per year. Without these meals, seniors report that they would need to choose between eating, paying rent or buying medicine. In most cases, for our clients at home, our drivers are the only visitor for the day.”

Lizzie Rodriguez, executive director of the Conflict Solutions Center, accepted a grant of $60,000 to launch a restorative justice program as an alternative to juvenile incarceration.

“The traditional method of addressing juvenile crime is punishment, isolation and shaming,” Rodriguez said. “Most people who move through the experience do not find it healing or satisfying. Victims often feel revictimized and their need for justice is unmet. … This method has been repeatedly proven to be unsuccessful. However, a restorative approach to addressing the harm caused by juvenile crime is profoundly impactful. A restorative approach operates from a belief that the path to justice lies in problem solving and healing rather than punitive isolation. Through a restorative process, juvenile offenders understand the impact their behaviors have on themselves, their families and their community. Young offenders are able to take responsibility for their actions and begin to understand and value their relationship with others.”

Accepting a $60,000 grant to fund the establishment of peer-to-peer support groups for families dealing with early onset teen mental illness was Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center.

“With this generous funding from the Women’s Fund, families of teens and young adults … will have early access to a safe and compassionate community, emotional support and information about available treatment,” she said. “They will find reason to have hope about their family’s future, despite a diagnosis of mental illness in their family.”

New Beginnings Counseling Center received $80,000 to assist individuals and families living in their vehicles.

“New Beginnings serves over 2,000 families and individuals in the county of Santa Barbara,” Executive Director Kristine Schwarz said. “We serve those most fragile in our community including the homeless, people with severe and persistent mental illness, domestic violence victims, the elderly, veterans and many more. The funds that we have been awarded today will allow our Safe Parking Program to continue providing overnight shelter for families and individuals who live in their cars. In addition, your contributions will go directly towards transitioning our clients back into permanent and sustainable housing.”

Executive Director Debbie McQuade accepted a $50,000 grant for Sarah House to deliver hospice care to low-income individuals suffering terminal illnesses. The grant funds the equivalent of one caregiver position for one year in the residential care facility.

The final grant of the day went to Transition House, for $50,000 to install air conditioning and sound proofing in the family homeless shelter.

“We know we ask a lot of the families in our program,” Executive Director Kathleen Baushke said. “Over the three or four months they are with us, parents are expected to find jobs, take anti-poverty classes, and work with their case managers on creating — and sticking to — monthly budgets and savings plans. Children are encouraged to keep up with their schoolwork and do their best to behave in an unfamiliar environment. By the end of their stay, successful residents have solid employment, money saved for a security deposit, and life skills that will allow them maintain their housing long-term. We work with the children in hopes that they experience minimal negative impacts due to experiencing homelessness.

“While it is up to the parents to do the hard work of returning to permanent housing, it is our job to provide the best environment to facilitate their success. Given that shelter residents are already experiencing significant stress due to being homeless, we want to create an environment that is as low-stress as possible by reducing excessive noise and heat. With the help of the Women’s Fund, Transition House will be better able to support families in attaining permanent housing.”

Women’s Fund co-chair Nancy Harter concluded the event, stating, “What a huge moment for all Women’s Fund members and grantees — and for our guests. We come together to celebrate our year-long efforts as a community of smart and informed givers. I applaud each and every one of you for investing in the shared vision that together we have much more strength and clout as philanthropists than we do on our own.”

Laurie Tumbler and Christine Riesenfeld were the research committee co-chairs for 2014-15, and Stina Hans chaired the event.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

Originally published on Noozhawk on May 6, 2015.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Celebrates Grants in Action

Annual site visit allows members to hear firsthand how their recent contributions totaling $550,000 are helping local nonprofits

Members of the Women's Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women's Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

Members of the Women’s Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

The mood was particularly festive at the 10th annual Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara site visit on Wednesday as more than 200 members of the organization were greeted with the news that founder Carol Palladini had received the prestigious Woman of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara Foundation and Noozhawk the day before.

Guests were also uplifted to see and hear what their most recent $550,000 in grants was doing to help the community.

The Santa Barbara Public Library hosted the annual site visit gathering, which included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Peoples’ Self Help Housing, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara and the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College — as well as presentations by representatives from Casa Esperanza, Domestic Violence Solutions, the Legal Aid Foundation, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) and Storyteller Children’s Center.

Together, these nine charities comprise the most recent recipients of 64 grants totaling $4.7 million to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the fund began in 2004.

“Our annual site visit is the best way to understand the work the Women’s Fund does,” Steering Committee co-chair Nancy Harter said. “And it’s an opportunity to connect us to some of the things that matter most — friends, new and old, and to our collective efforts that impact community. For a decade our members have combined their charitable dollars to make large donations in the community — more than most of us could accomplish on our own.

“We’ll be able to visit some of these grantees and see how they deliver services. Other grantees will make presentations on the progress of their grant. We’ll be able to ask questions about the effectiveness of our giving. And we’ll be able draw connections between words on a ballot and real people — those delivering services and those receiving them. My hope is that this site visit affords all of us a rich opportunity to sharpen our skills as strategic philanthropists.”

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the day included a stop at Peoples’ Self Help Housing’s site in Carpinteria, which received a $50,000 grant to use for after-school/summer educational enhancement for children of low-income families.

Rochelle Rose, Peoples’ fund development director, explained that the money was used for a program called YEEP, which stands for Youth Education Enhancement Program. YEEP is open after school every day in seven centers.

“These hours are structured,” Rose explained, “one hour for homework completion, one hour for physical activity and recreation and healthy snack, and one hour for educational enhancement — with a special project in math, science, art, music, community service or social studies. Thanks to support like yours, we are able to provide this program to over 300 children a day.”

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women's Fund photo

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women’s Fund photo

The next stop was the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College, which received a $90,000 grant for child-care support for low-income single mothers to allow them to attend college.

Chelsea Lancaster, EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs Student Program advisor and a former single-parent student, offered her thanks: “My mother said, ‘You can either struggle for a few years while you’re in school or struggle for the rest of your life without an education. The choice is yours.’ I’m glad I chose wisely!”

Youth Interactive Santa Barbara’s executive director and founder, Nathalie Gensac, gave an overview and tour of the nonprofit, to which the Women’s Fund granted $60,000 for entrepreneurial and job skills programs for underserved youth.

Calling the grant “transformational,” Gensac said, “It is literally because of your gift that I am proud to say that we are here today reaching unbelievable new heights. We followed your grant with a fundraiser concert hosted by Michael McDonald. He is now a huge supporter of Youth Interactive and personally donated $20,000 after the concert, other new grants have flowed in, too. We have now raised another $70,000 since May. All our students have access to the best artists and entrepreneurs in town, who teach them vocational skills, financial literacy and business skills.”

Back at the library were several additional presentations by grant recipients.

The Rev. Mark Asman, board president of Casa Esperanza, which received $50,000 for shelter and support to transition women out of homelessness, shared the story of Angela, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara.

“She had never experienced homelessness until her mother died and she began to fall on hard times,” he said. “Angela arrived at Casa Esperanza in June. She was 23 weeks pregnant. Because of her condition, Angela was given priority to stay at Casa and placed in one of our special-needs beds.”

Angela was matched with volunteers from the new “Navigator” program, paid for by the Women’s Fund grant.

“Over the months that Angela was with us, the volunteers helped to advocate on behalf of Angela for the courts … schedule prenatal visits along with attaining baby care items, etc.,” Asman said. “Angela recently gave birth to a healthy baby daughter and is now living with her and the baby’s father in affordable housing in Lompoc. I am confident that without the Navigator Program, Angela would not be where she is today. … Members of the Women’s Fund, thank you for your compassionate and strategic leadership.”

Bringing many in the audience to tears, Charles Anderson, executive director of Domestic Violence Solutions, began his presentation by playing a 9-1-1 call from a child witnessing violence.

“We know this is shocking,” he explained, “yet we work with children like this little girl and her family on a daily basis. Our DVS staff members are available to dispatch on 9-1-1 calls to assist law enforcement 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. During the previous 12 months, DVS staff has accompanied law enforcement officials on 655 of these domestic violence 9-1-1 emergency calls. We are the ‘first responders’ to many domestic violence situations. We responded to over 1,500 domestic violence crisis calls last year.”

The Women’s Fund gave DVS $50,000 to update the security system and the playground, which, as Anderson said, “Because of this most generous gift from the Women’s Fund, the children at DVS Santa Barbara have a safe, secure and inviting playground and security camera system where their mothers can take joy in watching their children thrive and grow.”

The Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara received a $75,000 grant for a domestic violence attorney for women and children, which, as family violence attorney Elizabeth Diaz explained, “was used to fund a second attorney … to assist victims of domestic violence, dependent adult abuse and elder abuse. Our services range from advice and counsel, to assistance with the preparation of legal documents, all the way up to representation in court proceedings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center was Executive Director Elsa Granados: “Your generous grant ($50,000) supports in part a crisis intervention counselor and a long-term counselor … thus enabling the SBRCC to counsel an additional 98 victims of sexual assault per year.

“An important part of the healing process for survivors of sexual assault is to feel that they are believed and supported by their community. Many are reluctant to speak publicly about their experience out of fear that they will be judged and stigmatized. I thank you for creating a space where Liz Blackadar could speak about her experience.”

Blackadar shared a moving story of her more than 30-year journey to finally be able to call herself a “survivor of sexual abuse,” thanks in large part to the services from SBRCC.

Also speaking at the library was Jo Ann Caines, principal of La Cumbre Junior High — along with San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens and San Marcos senior Jose Campos — to share how the Women’s Fund grant of $75,000 to the Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) has impacted the more than 100 students in the group.

“One of the important components of the program is to provide mentors and tutors to the high school Posse students in the evening at La Cumbre,” Caines said. “Because of funding limitations, the tutorial, mentoring and collaboration aspects of the program used to begin in October for the students. They are enrolled in rigorous and accelerated academic classes, Honors and Advanced Placement classes, and they need support as soon as the school year begins.

“This year, the Women’s Fund grant enabled the Posse Program to begin the tutorial and mentoring opportunities and support to begin on Sept. 8 with full tutorials and mentors in place, as well as the textbooks needed for their respective classes that span four high school grade levels. The students attended in mass and expressed their appreciation for the early start. What a difference a month makes!”

On behalf of the Storyteller Children’s Center, which received $50,000 for a food program for low-income preschool children, Executive Director Terri Allison said: “Thank you so much for your support of our program. Storyteller Children’s Center serves 100 of the community’s most vulnerable children each year and serves close to 23,000 meals and snacks. Your support allows us to do our work every day … providing quality, tuition-free early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children, as well as comprehensive support services for their families.”

Sarah Stokes, Kate Winn-Rogers and Barbara Hauter Woodward were the event co-chairs, who offered special thanks to generous bus sponsors Santa Barbara Airbus, Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery, Allen Construction and Montecito Treasures.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

This story was originally published in Noozhawk on October 10, 2014.

Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini Honored as Man and Woman of the Year

Carol Palladini was named Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo.

Carol Palladini was named Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo.

Hundreds of friends and supporters gathered at the Four Seasons Biltmore to recognize Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini for their long-standing commitment to volunteerism and the significant impact they have had throughout the community.

The awards were presented by Ron Gallo, president & CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “The landscape and sense of community we treasure in Santa Barbara was shaped to a great extent by the efforts of volunteers,” says Gallo. This year’s recipients of the Man & Woman of the Year award, Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini, continue this legacy of service. Their compassion and willingness to give back has touched the lives of thousands and clearly demonstrates the impact of committed volunteers.”

Lyons came to Santa Barbara with his family in the early 1980s. His local nonprofit involvement has included CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), ADL (Anti-Defamation League), Family Service Agency (FSA), Cottage Hospital,  The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Laguna Blanca School, the Boys & Girls Club and AYSO, among others.

Steve Lyons was named Man of the Year.

Steve Lyons was named Man of the Year.

Palladini, who moved to Santa Barbara from Pasadena in 1996, has also been involved with a number of local nonprofits, including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara and Tres Condados Girl Scout Council. In 2004, she established the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, which has awarded grants totaling $4.7 million to 64 local nonprofit programs impacting more than 83,000 local women, children and families in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria.

The awards were presented by the Santa Barbara Foundation and Noozhawk, with special commendations by Mayor Helene Schneider and Rep. Lois Capps.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 8, 2014.

Grants in Action: Women’s Fund Members Witness the Power of Their Collective Gifts

Ninth annual site visit highlights the work of local nonprofit organizations benefiting from $525,000 in contributions

Women's Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday's annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

Women’s Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday’s annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)


It’s often said that seeing is believing, and that was certainly the case for more than 150 members of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara last Thursday as they toured local nonprofit agencies to see what their most recent $525,000 in grants were doing to help the community. The annual site visit included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, Doctors Without Walls (Transition House) and the Westside Boys & Girls Club — as well as presentations by representatives from Future Leaders of America, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Isla Vista Youth Projects, the Youth Violence Prevention Program and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Together these eight charities comprise the most recent recipients of 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the Women’s Fund began in 2004.

Always a highlight for members, this ninth annual site visit offered an opportunity for people to observe firsthand how their donations are making a crucial difference in their neighbor’s lives, as well as how powerful their individual gifts can become when they are part of a collective philanthropy group.

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the site visit included a stop at Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, which received a $50,000 grant to use for emergency supplemental food and case management to aid low-income families in crisis.

Frank Bognar, regional director, says the facility serves approximately 8,500 people a year. Explaining the various services Catholic Charities offers — which include case management, food distribution, life skills planning, counseling services, operating the Thrifty Shopper store and providing vouchers to clients, medical treatment, grants and referrals, emergency shelter assistance, older adult services and holiday programs — Bognar said, “We try to both provide the fish and teach people how to fish.”

The next stop was the Westside Boys & Girls Club, which received a $75,000 grant for renovation and expansion of its clubhouse to create an educational resource center for teens and pre-teens.

Gina Carbajal, executive director of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, explained that the group provides services to 7,000 children throughout the county, including about 200 per day at the Westside Club. The resource center donated by the Women’s Fund will provide students with a quiet learning space of their own, offering homework help and tutoring.

Development/grant specialist Donna Reeves gave an overview of a typical day at the Westside Boys & Girls Club.

“Getting homework done is the first priority,” she said, explaining that the children are given incentives to get their work done as well as assistance when they need it.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara was among three sites toured Thursday by members of the Women’s Fund. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

David Lee, regional director of Notes for Notes, an independent nonprofit that has a satellite studio at the club, also gave tours of a very impressive “jam room” where children receive free access to musical instruments, instruction and a recording studio.

The third site toured was Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine, which received a two-year Women’s Fund grant for a total of $50,000 for the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic to provide medical care and essential services to unsheltered and marginally sheltered women in a safe, female-only environment. The clinic is located at Transition House, where treasurer Marguerite Sanchez welcomed members.

“The mission of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine is to provide free, volunteer medical care for the most vulnerable, underserved populations in Santa Barbara County, when and where they are in need,” she said. “(The clinic) serves a highly marginalized, at-risk population living in extreme poverty. Many of the women we treat have been victims of domestic violence as well assault, affecting their ability to take adequate care of themselves. … They live in parks, in cars, under freeways, on the beaches and the streets. Many more of our women live in the public shelter system where services have been dropped to an all-time low and sometimes the only hot meal they receive is the one provided at our clinic.”

A tasty sample of one of those hot meals was provided to Women’s Fund members by the Organic Soup Kitchen, which partners with Transition House and the women’s clinic to provide nutritious food. This year they anticipate serving 20,000 meals to needy people in the community, with a need for 30,000 meals anticipated in 2014.

The buses then went to the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club for additional presentations by grant recipients.

“The Women’s Fund site visit is part of the rigorous research process that ensures we have effective, creative programs and agencies from which to select when we cast our votes,” site visit chair Sarah Stokes said. “The progress of our grantees is then followed to confirm the money we’ve donated is being well spent. … Today, we have the opportunity to see firsthand the effective use of our collective funds and hear from the grantees how your money is being put to use and the work we are doing together to change the lives of women, children and families in our community.”

On behalf of Future Leaders of America, which received a $65,000 grant for leadership training and academic support for local high school students, program director Gabriela Rodriguez said, “Due in large part to Women’s Fund support, Future Leaders hosted a weeklong youth leadership camp for 95 new participants (64 of them from Southern Santa Barbara County) at Cal State Channel Islands. During the summer camp, Future Leaders works to create an environment where the ‘Impossible’ becomes the ‘I’m Possible.’ Students learn to effectively express their opinions and ideas, discuss their challenges and fears and develop the necessary skills to advocate for themselves at home, school and in their community.

“The youth we served this summer come from the most marginalized areas of our community. From Santa Barbara alone, 37 percent of the youth come from low and 53 percent come from extremely low-income families. More than one-third come from single-parent homes. This is only important to highlight because I can assure you that the lives we touched are the ones that need our support the most.”

As the recipient of a $50,000 grant to Girls Inc. of Carpinteria to fund Eureka!, which is a dropout prevention and college readiness program designed to encourage young girls to attend college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, according to Executive Director Victoria Juarez.

“This summer, thanks to your investment in the Eureka! program, Girls Inc. Carpinteria sent 42 eighth- and ninth-grade girls to the UCSB campus, where they spent four weeks learning what it takes to succeed in higher education,” she said. “Many of them will be the first in their family to attend college, and we have had the honor to see them inspired, challenged and sometimes perplexed as they navigated an entirely new environment. They are all, without a doubt, much better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a college education.”

Board member Dr. Yoni Harris spoke on behalf of Isla Vista Youth Projects, which received $50,000 for capital funds to improve interior and exterior areas, including the playground at the Isla Vista Family Resource Center.

“As you all know, there is no shortage of nonprofit agencies or good causes in Santa Barbara,” Harris said. “The Youth Projects rises to the top of my priority list because of their commitment to an underserved community, depth and breadth of programming, passion of the staff and, most of all, the children and families who come through the door every day.

“The Women’s Fund grant has allowed us to make some much-needed capital and safety improvements to our Family Resource Center, which serves as the service hub for Isla Vista and Goleta families. Although not glamorous work, these improvements were certainly necessary work. The Youth Projects offers a continuum of programming beginning with babies, toddlers and preschoolers who attend the full-day year round Children’s Center. These same children later attend the after-school and summer program at Isla Vista school kindergarten through sixth grade. … Thank you again for your faith in our ability to make a difference in our small part of the county.”

Next up was Melissa Garcia from the Youth Violence Prevention Program, which received $85,000 to provide funding for a female outreach worker helping at-risk girls in Santa Barbara secondary schools.

“Females ages 12 to 19 are the fastest-growing segment in the youth corrections system, and locally, the number of girls entering the probation system has more than doubled over the past eight years,” she said.

Garcia works with about 40 eighth-grade and freshmen girls, with five to seven girls at each school site.

“I pull them out of class once a week, and we talk about different topics that they have chosen that they want to know more about — for example, domestic violence, teen dating, healthy relationships, trust, drug abuse, depression, anger control and better communication,” she said. “I have created a safe environment for these girls to open up. I thought it was going to take a few weeks before the girls really started to talk openly to me, but I was wrong. They want to tell someone what is going on in their lives. They want to be heard. They want someone to be there for them. They want someone to listen without judging them and to help them develop more positive strategies to deal with their situations.

“There is also a great need for us to empower these young women, because if we don’t, they might eventually drop out of school, get involved in unhealthy relationships, become addicted to drugs or even end up pregnant. … All of these young women that I work with have so much potential, and it is my job to help them realize just how much potential they have. Anything is possible in this world, and I am going to do whatever it takes for these girls to see that and start to believing in themselves.”

The final grant recipient was Marsha Bailey, founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures, which received a $100,000 Women’s Fund grant that established a micro-loan fund to assist low-income women in South Santa Barbara County start or expand their own businesses.

“WEV’s mission is to create an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women,” she said. “The fact is that the lack of financial resources restricts a woman’s freedom and choices. Period. The truth of this is still seen today: In 2010, only 14 percent of SBA loan dollars went to women. Undercapitalization is the most common reason for business failure. WEV created its Small Business Loan Fund to ensure that low- and moderate-income women could get the money they needed to invest in their businesses until they could become bankable — a process that usually takes at least three years.”

Bailey explained that the $100,000 from the Women’s Fund resulted in a matching grant from the Treasury Department CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), in effect doubling the grant.

“In fact, Treasury matched the Women’s Fund grant plus $500,000,” Bailey said. “We thank you, the members of the Women’s Fund, that voted for our grant of $100,000. Know that you are helping change the path of poverty in Santa Barbara.”

Steering Committee chair Sallie Coughlin wrapped up the event: “I am happy to report that our membership contributions are on track for this year, which means that when we next meet — at the Presentation Awards, which will be on Monday, April 28 — we expect to award at least $500,000 in grants to local nonprofits.”

About the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara

The Women’s Fund is a collective donor group that has awarded 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since it began in 2004. The concept is simple: Women’s Fund members pool their charitable donations, research critical community needs and then vote on which agencies will receive the funds collected during the year. The annual site visit is a midyear progress review that enables Women’s Fund members to see their gifts in action.

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

Originally published on Noozhawk on October 21, 2013.

Making their presence felt

Women's Fund of Santa BarbaraWomen’s Fund getting more bang for bucks

Looking for a low-key, high-impact way to tap into the power of collective philanthropy, Carol Palladini was inspired when she read a Los Angeles Times article about the Everychild Foundation. The idea is simple. Take the time, energy, and money spent on mounting and attending elaborate fund raisers and write a single check once a year.

The appeal was also simple: “Many women in the Santa Barbara area feel not only a need, but an obligation to be a powerful force for good in our community,” Palladini wrote in the invitation letter to the inaugural members of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

A few short months after that initial request, the Women’s Fund awarded its first donations on Jan. 31, giving $105,000 to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic’s Eastside Family Dental Clinic and $35,000 to two St. Vincent’s programs, PATHS (Program of Affordable Transitional Housing and Services) and Casa Alegria, an infant and toddler care facility.

“A group of women had been meeting at the Santa Barbara Foundation to talk about women and philanthropy,” explained Palladini. That group eventually evolved into a founding committee that included Palladini, Peri Harcourt, Shirley Ann Hurley, Jean Kaplan, Dale Kern, Joanne Rapp, Elna Scheinfeld, Meredith Scott, Anne Smith, Kay Stern, Marsha Wayne and Fritzie Yamin, as well as Raynette Cornejo, the Santa Barbara Foundation liaison.

Their intention was to take a year to develop the plan for the Women’s Fund, “but people started calling and saying ‘when can we write checks?’ which is amazing because usually you have to cajole and pull money out of people,” said Palladini.

“All it took was a letter of invitation to 500 women and the money started coming in,” said Palladini.

Each member contributes a minimum of $2,500 per year, which is then deposited in Donor Advised Fund administered by the Santa Barbara Foundation. At the end of the year, 90 percent of the funds collected are donated to one or more local nonprofit organizations.

“Our umbrella for giving is meeting unmet needs for women, children and families in the greater Santa Barbara area,” said Palladini. “The main goal is not to divvy it up in little tidbits, so that the impact of collective women’s giving is really felt.”

Granting is decided by a simple majority vote of members. Women who wish to ease the cost of dues may form a donor group, which then shares one vote in how the money is spent.

To join, send a check payable to Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, c/o Santa Barbara Foundation, 15 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara 93101. For more information, contact Palladini at 565.0342 or e-mail her at

Originally published in South Coast Beacon in 2007.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Grants $600,000 to Local Nonprofits

Women's Fund of Santa Barbara“Collaborative efforts are part of the future of philanthropy,” said Natalie Orfalea, addressing the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara’s annual luncheon on Jan. 28.

As chairwoman of the Orfalea Fund and co-founder of the Orfalea Family Foundation, Orfalea is an expert on collaborative giving, and was instrumental in developing her foundation’s partnership with the Women’s Fund. With Orfalea matching all of the money raised by the Women’s Fund, it was able to award $600,000 to support the work of eight local nonprofit organizations: Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, Casa Pacifica, Family Service Agency, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, Isla Vista Youth Projects, People’s Self-Help Housing, Storyteller Children’s Center and Transition House.

This brings the total amount given to the community by the Women’s Fund to $1,425,000, in just four short years of existence. The grassroots group was founded by a small group of women — chairwoman Carol Palladini and Perri Harcourt, Shirley Ann Hurley, Jean Kaplan, Dale Kern, Joanne Rapp, Elna Scheinfeld, Meredith Scott, Kay Stern, Anne Smith Towbes, Marsha Wayne and Fritzie Yamin — who were interested in contributing to the community without having to sell tickets, make decorations, solicit auction items or spend valuable resources to bring in funding for nonprofit organizations.

It’s a simple, yet powerful, idea that’s growing in the philanthropic community: Why not take the time, energy and money spent on producing and attending elaborate fund-raisers and write a single check once a year to put that money where it’s most needed.

The concept of giving circles — pooling resources with other donors to have a bigger impact — is catching on, too, not just with the Women’s Fund but within the Women’s Fund as well. To become a member of the Women’s Fund, a woman simply writes a tax-deductible check for $2,500 once a year and in return receives one vote to decide where the funds will be distributed. When the group started in 2004, it targeted women who could easily make the $2,500 donation required to participate.

In recent years, the circle of giving has widened to include group members — often younger women in the community who can’t afford the entire $2,500 donation — who pool their money and share one vote. has put together two of these groups, and there are 28 other sets of women who are neighbors, coworkers, friends and acquaintances who also contributed to the fund as group members, with anywhere from two to 12 members pooling their funds to come up with the required $2,500.

The idea of the money donated going directly to help people, rather than being spent on events or fund-raising expenses appealed to SBParent’s Julie Sorenson and Rachael Steidl. Other members said they joined the group to meet like-minded women or to learn more about the nonprofit organizations serving the community. Assisted by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the research committee does all the legwork to identify causes that align with the Women’s Fund goal of giving to meaningful projects affecting women, children and families.

The largest gift awarded by the Women’s Fund this year was a $150,000 leadership grant to Storyteller Children’s Center, for its $2.5 million expansion campaign that will be launched in 2008. Storyteller, which provides high-quality free preschool for homeless and at-risk children, will use the funds to help establish a second center on De la Vina Street. The organization will serve 1,000 homeless and at-risk children and their families in the next decade, said executive director Terri Allison.

“One in every five children in Santa Barbara County lives in poverty,” Allison said. And while these funds will greatly expand the availability of services, “for every child who joins Storyteller, we must place one on our waiting list.”

Family Service Agency’s 211 Human Services Helpline was awarded $95,000, an amount that will provide one-third of the funding needed to carry on the operation of the helpline when government funds expire in 2008.

Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara was awarded $85,000 to pay for a licensed social worker to recruit, screen, train and support 20 foster families, doubling the number of infants and toddlers that were placed in foster care in 2007.

“These parents risk their own broken hearts,” said executive director Meichelle Arntz, “and this money allows us to provide them with additional support.”

Isla Vista Youth Projects, which lost state funds in 2007, received $60,000 for a family advocate and counselor for one year. This gap funding will restore programs to keep low-income families healthy through regular medical and dental care.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara was awarded $55,000 for its Teen Mentoring Program. Thise program expansion will allow girls 13 to 18 years old to participate in Girls Inc. for the first time locally. In the past the agency only served girls up to age 12.

Casa Pacifica received $55,000 to purchase three cars to enable caseworkers and mental health professionals to deliver 24/7 mobile emergency services for youth in immediate psychiatric crisis and to provide assistance for families with youth who are at risk for being placed in foster care.

People’s Self-Help Housing was granted $50,000 to fund a third educator for its year-round specialized mentoring learning program that serves school-aged children in low-income families.

Transition House also received $50,000, which will provide gap funding for the salary of one case manager for a year. Transition House case managers meet one-on-one with at-risk families to craft solutions to help them restore self-sufficiency.

As if helping these worthy organizations weren’t reward enough, oversight committee chairwoman Jo Gifford told the crowd of approximately 150 women that she recently learned that givers are happier than nongivers, less depressed, and full of the hormones that reduce stress.

“So with that in mind, I stand before the happiest, least depressed and least stressed women in Santa Barbara,” she said.

For more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara visit or contact Jo Gifford at 805.969.3320 or

Originally published in Noozhawk and on January 30, 2008.