Santa Barbara Foundation Awards Nearly $400,000 in Capital Improvement Grants in 2016

Wilderness Youth Project children team-building nature activity.

The Santa Barbara Foundation awarded $122,000 to 17 organizations in the third and last cycle of small Capital Improvement Grants this year. Of the $754,000 requested this year, the foundation awarded close to $400,000 to support 47 organizations in the areas of technology, transportation, program specific improvements and facility upgrades to help organizations across sectors improve effectiveness and efficiency.

“While the economy has been improving, we are still seeing results of the recession through requests for deferred maintenance, vehicle replacements and computer upgrades that are long overdue and are needed to improve organizational performance,” said Amy Schneider, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Excellence at the Santa Barbara Foundation. “Even though the grants are modest, I see them as a significant tool the foundation is using to help strengthen and build capacity of our nonprofit sector.”

The Capital Improvement Grants program was designed on the understanding that our nonprofit partners tend to prioritize programs and direct services over capacity and infrastructure needs, particularly when resources are scarce. The anticipated outcomes of these grants are increased capacity in program delivery, primarily in the form of technology updates, and improved client safety and care in the form of transportation and facility improvements.

The Wilderness Youth Project, which works to connect children to the place they live and give them a sense of place in nature, serves as an example of an organization that benefited from an investment in transportation that directly increased program capacity. “With a $10,000 capital improvement grant award from the Santa Barbara Foundation, we were able to purchase a van, which helps us increase the access and equity of our programs for children across the county and allows us to take advantage of all the open spaces that Santa Barbara has to offer,” said Dan Fontaine, Executive Director of The Wilderness Youth Project.

The Wilding Museum, which strives to connect and inspire the community to value wildlife and nature through art, received an award to improve efficiency and safety of art hanging and art storage and to build an inventory of exhibition items. “This grant will allow us to improve our professionalism and better organize our archives to preserve our pieces for the long-term,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, Executive Director of the Wildling Museum. “We are grateful for all that the Santa Barbara Foundation has done to help us grow over the years, from stewarding our small endowment to supporting us with grants in many areas, and we are especially appreciative of some of the foundation’s newest initiatives, such as Creative Communities and LEAF.”

Acknowledging the need for the Capital Improvements Grants program across sectors, geography and project type, the Santa Barbara Foundation plans to build on learnings this year and continue the capital improvement grants in 2017. The first Capital Improvement Grant cycle opens on February 6, 2017. For more information, please contact Amy Schneider, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Excellence, at A list of current grant recipients for the Capital Improvement Grants program is available here.
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