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Donor Spotlight

As one of the largest private sources of funding for area nonprofits, agencies, and college bound students, the foundation makes funds available to identify and strategically address critical community issues – to strengthen the nonprofit sector, to encourage collaboration and partnerships, and to engage and align philanthropic capital with community needs in order to positively impact the county’s common good. On this page, you will find stories about the donors that make our work possible.

Liam Murphy: Giving What You Can

Abused, neglected and abandoned by her mother in her early years of life, Rosie was sent to live with her grandparents. She was to go physically combative and had serious behavior problems. At a loss for how to help her, Rosie’s grandparents reached out to Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM). After working with therapists at CALM, Rosie’s behavior improved. She grew more secure, began succeeding in school and was a much happier little girl. Read more...


Donor Spotlight: Jean-Luc Bourdon Cares for Caregivers, One Client at a Time

Edna was exhausted. Her husband required 24/7 care for serious health problems as well as dementia. She felt that she was the only person who could care for him, and the emotional and physical hardships of being a caregiver were taking their toll. Just when she thought she had nowhere left to turn, she met a family caregiver navigator at Marian Regional Medical Center and was referred to a caregiver support group. Now, Edna is willing to leave her husband with other caregivers and has started to make action plans to address her own needs. Edna now feels like she has returned to living again and this is thanks to donors like Jean-Luc Bourdon, who support the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Community Caregiving Initiative. Read more...


The Next Vesalius of Cancer Research

It was 1543. Andreas Vesalius sat staring at the cadaver of Jakob Karrer von Gerbweiler. He had no idea that with this one cadaver, he was about to make anatomical history. Vesalius was about to prepare the world’s oldest surviving anatomical skeleton, challenge the public’s beliefs about the human body, and become the father of modern human anatomy. This dedication, curiosity and desire to continually challenge medical norms inspired Cynvenio, a pioneer in liquid biopsy cancer research, to name its new foundation after him. Read more...



Donor Spotlight: Dr. Anabel Ford's Philanthropic Magic

Trudging through the dense tropical forest of El Pilar, an ancient Maya city located on the Belize-Guatemala border, Dr. Anabel Ford was set on one task and one task only: finding water. Ford’s interest in the magic of the Maya Forest began when she was an anthropology student at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Now in a research position at UCSB, Ford works with students and continues her research of the Maya civilization with the goal of preserving the forest and finding sustainable solutions that can be replicated today in societies around the world, like Santa Barbara County. Read more...



Polly Firestone Walker: Santa Barbara County's
"Leading Lady" in Philanthropy

One moment as Mrs. Bennett fretting over her daughters in Pride and Prejudice and the next playing the queen of fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Polly Firestone Walker’s passion for theater is evident in her performances and in every class she teaches as a Resident Artist of the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA). For Firestone Walker, theater is much like philanthropy. Just as theater is about the joy of storytelling, creation and connection, philanthropy is about bringing people together through stories and ideas to make the world a little brighter. This is exactly why Firestone Walker is not only passionate about theater, but as a philanthropic leader strives to consistently give back to Santa Barbara County. Read more...



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