COVID-19 Response Effort for Santa Barbara County

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November 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Since March 2020, Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF), United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC), and the Hutton Parker Foundation have been leading a countywide funders’ collaborative with members of the Foundation Roundtable and others. As of November 9, thirty-five (35) funders have signed on and, collectively, we have mobilized just over $19 million in funding to support individuals and nonprofits in Santa Barbara County. The Collaborative has proven to be effective in providing a transparent and inclusive process that encourages the exchange of information about community needs; facilitates a coordinated, timely response; maximizes resources for the community; and allows for comprehensive tracking of philanthropic investments made during the pandemic

As part of the Collaborative, the COVID -19 Joint Response Grant Program provides grants to individuals for those disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic through the United Way of Santa Barbara County, and grants up to $25,000 to nonprofit organizations serving all regions of Santa Barbara County through the SBF’s Community Disaster Relief Fund.  The COVID-19 Joint Response Grant Program has received $5,253,749 in contributions and distributed over $4,435,584 to date, excluding CARES Act Funding for individual assistance grants.

Grants to Nonprofits

With a grants committee that includes United Way, Hutton Parker Foundation, VOAD and Aware and Prepare, the Santa Barbara Foundation distributed $2,428,024 to 171 nonprofits in the first 32 cycles. Total requests so far have been $6,054,188 from 265 organizations. For the first few months, the COVID-19 Joint Response Grant Program has prioritized organizations that are meeting emergency needs and adaptive services. We will continue to focus on those areas, but we are now also prioritizing requests for operating support. Below are a few thank you messages from recent grant recipients:

Through your support, our high-achieving and resilient students will be able to use these funds to maintain their financial security, provide for their essential needs, and continue their academic progress. In doing so, your generosity will help provide many undergraduate and graduate students still living locally around campus and throughout Santa Barbara County with the stability to avoid potentially critical setbacks and the financial security to maintain their path towards their personal, educational, and professional goals for themselves and their families.  

Above all, the support of the [COVID-19 Joint Response Effort] represents the type of philanthropy that inspires confidence and instills a deep sense of gratitude in our students that will not be forgotten, remaining long after this pandemic is over. Without a doubt, I know that your support represents the type of community care that many of our students will aspire to and carry forward into their futures.” – Chancellor, UCSB

“Thank you for making our day! We thank you and the Grants Committee on behalf of all the aging adults and caregivers we serve.” —Friendship Center

“We are thrilled!!! Thank you so very much. This grant makes a huge difference to our agency.” –Housing Trust Fund

We are honored and so grateful for your generosity during these times of need. I’m sure many organizations are very appreciative of the Joint Response Committee’s work and dedication to help those in Santa Barbara County. The dogs, cats, staff and Board members at SBHS thank you for your support.”  -Santa Barbara Humane Society

“Thank you for approving the grant application in support of Santa Barbara County 4-H. This is wonderful news and will enable Santa Barbara 4-H to continue important programming for youth throughout the county.” – California 4-H Foundation

“On behalf of the PHOSBC Board of Directors we say Thank You so much for choosing our small but might team for approving our request grant application. We are more than honored to be partnered with the [COVID-19 Joint Response Effort]!” – Project Heal

With the support of our community and funders such as the COVID-19 Response Grants Committee, we are able to provide the necessary support families and staff need to stay well in the months ahead. Thank you for recognizing the exceptional challenges faced by local agencies-such as Transition House-as we all make the necessary modifications to our service delivery models.” –Transition House

Grants to Individuals and Families

As of October 30th, United Way has awarded 2,486 Individual Assistance and Rental Assistance grants through the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort (CJRE) and Cares Act funds. In total, $2,647,548 has been distributed to support our most vulnerable community members. Additionally, an anonymous donor ($307,500) helped us decrease the technology/digital divide for hundreds of students enrolled at 13 school districts across the county. In total, 2,499 grant recipients have received a combined $2,955,048. In partnership with Family Service Agency, United Way continues to conduct remote interviews with all applicants to verify information and needs. Additionally, the City of Goleta, the City of Santa Barbara and the County of Santa Barbara recently awarded United Way a combined $2.6 million in CARES Act funding to offer emergency rental assistance grants to eligible individuals and families.  The City of Goleta award specifically provides financial assistance for income-qualified senior citizens living in City of Goleta. To date, $947,218 has been distributed from the CARES Act funds. This brings the Individual Assistance Grants total to $2,955,048. More information can be found here:

Below are a few recent thank you messages from grant recipients:

  • “Thank you for your kind act. The grant was a blessing and I want to express my gratitude to the Covid-19 Joint Response Effort Committee”
  • “Your support was timely! Everything was weighing on us…the award a gave us a moment of hope and a feeling that everything is going to be okay. Thank you.”
  • “Thank you. Your support was a ray of light in the darkness”

Grants to Small Businesses

The Santa Barbara Better Together Fund, a committee-advised field of interest fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, established a grants program for small businesses. Partnering with local municipalities, the fund has received a combined $1 million that will double the impact from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. In the city of Goleta, nineteen small businesses recently received $105,000 to support the cost of re-opening, rent and other expenses to help them survive the pandemic. Supported by the County of Santa Barbara, twenty small business in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County received $150,000.  City of Carpinteria businesses received $60,000, and $75,000 was distributed in the city of Santa Maria. A grant cycle is currently underway in the city of Santa Barbara. Additional cycles will occur in the unincorporated areas and the city of Santa Maria. We are excited to partner with these municipalities to meet the needs of our small business community.

LEARN MORE: COVID-19 Response Grants

Those who are fortunate enough to be able to give are encouraged to continue to give generously to the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County.

To donate to Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, please contact Nick Dietzen at (805) 880-9352 or or CLICK HERE.

The Santa Barbara Foundation continues to work with local government and nonprofit organizations to monitor the situation and stay informed with the most current health and safety information. We encourage all of our partners to stay informed about COVID-19. Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has COVID-19 resources at The Foundation has provided resources for the community and nonprofit on our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource page and UWSBC has provided resources for community members (individuals) on their COVID-19 Resources. We have also provided the Ways to Help webpage that directly connects those with resources (food, supplies, or volunteer time) to organizations in need. We want to help in any way we can.

Our physical offices are closed, but our business operations are in full swing as our team is working remotely. We are here to serve. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need anything. You can reach us on our regular office numbers and emails.

As your community foundation, I want you to know that we are hard at work connecting resources and community needs. These are trying times, indeed.  Never have we been challenged to work harder to mobilize philanthropic capital and collective wisdom for the benefit our Santa Barbara County. We are humbled by the tremendous outpouring of care and compassion from our donors, community and corporate leaders, nonprofit partners, and colleagues in philanthropy. We are honored to work with each of you. We will get through this together.


With gratitude and wishes for comfort and good health,

Jackie Carrera, President & CEO, Santa Barbara Foundation