COVID-19 Response Effort for Santa Barbara County

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An Update from our President & CEO | COVID-19: Nonprofit Resources | COVID-19: Business Resources | COVID-19: Resources for Individuals | COVID-19: Apply for Grants | Community Response: Make a GiftCOVID-19: Ways to HelpCOVID-19: SBF NEWS


March 3, 2021

Dear Friends,

It has been nearly a year since COVID-19 came to Santa Barbara County and disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives. Within a matter of days, we saw our nonprofit partner organizations adapt their business models to serve the community at a distance, and we saw them step up to serve more people in need than ever before. With our donors’ support, the Santa Barbara Foundation was right there with them, working to ensure that organizations had the information, resources, and financial support they needed to successfully make this transition. And we continue to be there for our social sector through our COVID-19 grant program, which you can read more about below.

Additionally, small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, have been hit hard by this pandemic. With our partners, the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund at SBF has committed over $1 million to small businesses across the county, and the Elaine Stepanek Foundation Restaurant Fund has committed an additional $500,000 to support restaurants in the city of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. While this has offered some relief to businesses and allowed many to keep their doors open, for many, this is not enough. We need to work together, as a community, to stay safe and healthy and to allow our small businesses to reopen and start the path to recovery.

While we remain committed to strengthening our social sector and our small business community through the current challenges of the pandemic, we also turn an eye to the future. The medical community is hard at work administering vaccines to as many residents as availability provides for, and the recovery of our community depends on it.  While there is light at the end of this tunnel, the road to recovery will be a long one. This community has come together to do so much to support each other in the wake of this pandemic, but the work is far from done. Please join us in continuing to provide the support that our vulnerable populations, our working families, and our social sector so desperately need.



COVID-19 Joint Response Effort

For over a year, the Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF), United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC), and the Hutton Parker Foundation have been leading a countywide funders’ collaborative that has grown to 36 members. To date, these philanthropic organizations, including members of the Foundation Roundtable, have collectively mobilized just over $37 million in funding to support individuals and nonprofits in Santa Barbara County.

Grants to Nonprofits

With a grants committee that includes United Way, Hutton Parker Foundation, VOAD and Aware and Prepare, the Santa Barbara Foundation distributed $2,791,337 to 206 nonprofits in the first 46 cycles. Total requests so far have been $7,841,937 from 321 organizations. For the first few months, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort prioritized organizations that were meeting emergency needs and adaptive services. We continue to focus on those areas, but we are now also prioritizing requests for operating support. This shift has resulted in a steady stream of applications each week.

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

  • “Wow, what a wonderful way to start the day. Thank you so much. I really can’t tell you how much we appreciate this support and what a huge impact it will have on the theater. This will allow me to keep our staff employed and allow us to keep serving the artists of the community, helping us generate funds to keep us moving toward the much hoped for reopening. Thank you so much for the assistance and support throughout the process and throughout the past incredibly difficult year. I wish I could articulately express the overwhelming sense of relief I am feeling at this news, so you could really feel the impact of the work you do. This will be the seed money that helps us keep fighting the good fight. Thank you.” – Center Stage Theater
  • “Thank you so much for choosing the Dunes Center to receive this funding! The [COVID-19 Joint Response Effort] has played a critical role in enabling the Dunes Center to continue the work we do here on the Central Coast and in Northern Santa Barbara County! We are so grateful for this opportunity!” – The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center
  • “Thank you so much for this Covid-19 Grant to benefit our Goleta membership, we truly appreciate this support. Your grant will help us continue to provide much needed services to these deserving seniors in the City of Goleta during this time of challenge and isolation.” – Friendship Center

Grants to Individuals and School Districts

As of February 15, 2021, United Way has awarded 3,068 Individual Assistance and Rental Assistance grants through the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort (CJRE) and Cares Act / CDBG Federal funds. In total, $4,424,520 has been awarded. 6,811 households have submitted applications requesting financial support. Hundreds of individuals/families still remain on a waitlist. We continue to raise additional funds to support the qualifying individuals/families in need. In partnership with the Family Service Agency, United Way continues to conduct remote interviews with all applicants to verify information and needs.

Effective Tuesday 2/16, the County of Santa Barbara is offering Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance through United Way of Santa Barbara County to eligible County of Santa Barbara residents who have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can demonstrate the need for rental support. This Emergency Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents (arrears, current and future). Upon application approval, applicants may receive up to $6,000 over 3 months toward rental and utility expenses. Applicants can re-apply every 3 months up to maximum of 15 months. In total, more than $13 million will be available to support community members countywide.

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

  • “Thank you so much for your help. I am so grateful for the support. You have always been a consistent asset to our community. Thank you!”
  • “Thank you! Your wonderful and generous gift has been instrumental in getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. I greatly appreciate the LOVE, KINDNESS & SUPPORT of United Way and its partners. This program was a monumental life line for me and my family. My blessing to you, your team and donors.”
  • “I just wanted to thank you again for the assistance grants that my sons received.  You cannot imagine how much it helped us over the last couple of months.  We are so grateful; the grants made all the difference.”

Grants to Small Businesses

The Santa Barbara Better Together Fund, a Committee Advised Fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, established a grants program for small businesses. Partnering with local municipalities, the fund has received a combined over $1 million that will double the impact from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. With funding from 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.  A total of thirty-one businesses in the City of Carpinteria received $155,000, and $162,500 was distributed to twenty-two small businesses with support from the city of Santa Maria. With funding from the City of Santa Barbara, thirty businesses received $150,000. Additional cycles will occur in the unincorporated areas, and the cities of Santa Maria and Goleta. We are excited to partner with these municipalities to meet the needs of our small business community.

In addition, the Elaine Stepanek Foundation Restaurant Fund, a Committee Advised Fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, has recently launched to provide financial assistance grants up to $10,000 to small, independently-owned dine-in restaurants in the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. This fund currently has $500,000 to support local restaurants.

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 Jessica Sanchez at (805) 880-9366 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 nonprofits 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 of 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