A Message from Pamela Gann, Chair, Board of Trustees, and Jacqueline Carrera, President & CEO

June 14, 2021

Empathy. Throughout the year that was 2020, people could resonate with each other’s plight more than ever because it had also been theirs in one way or another. People stepped up to help, responding compassionately to those in need. Our communities experienced a heightened level of empathy that was palpable.

The Santa Barbara Foundation’s (SBF) mission is to build empathetic, inclusive, resilient communities. While we hope not to experience another pandemic, it is our fervent wish that this love of community that defines Santa Barbara County – and, that is at the heart of our Foundation – continues to resonate in our minds and actions. It’s the kind of love that motivated community members, despite their hardships, to step up and give more of themselves, their time, and their resources to make life better for those that are more vulnerable.

In times of crisis, community foundations like SBF intervene and coordinate to address challenges and align philanthropic capital to communities that need it most. Last year proved this to be true. We served as a vehicle for donors, government, entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits to meet the moment. One example is Santa Barbara Better Together, a committee-advised grant program initiated by Deckers’ Brand and supported by local municipalities, the County, and SBF. This program provided over $1 million in support for small businesses facing challenges due to the pandemic with another $1.5 million being disbursed in 2021.

In 2020, we established and co-led a 36-member funders’ collaborative known as the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, alongside the Hutton Parker Foundation and United Way of Santa Barbara County. This information-sharing effort created open lines of communication to ensure that relief dollars were distributed effectively and efficiently throughout our communities. To date, the funders’ collaborative mobilized $38 million in support of our county. We are immensely grateful to these partners and our hard-working nonprofits on the frontlines.

As the pandemic raged, our “business as usual” powered on. We continued our adherence to our strategic priorities to meet basic human needs. Fortunately, we had established the Collaboration for Social Impact and hired Gary Clark as its first director early in 2020. We provided and collaborated with others on much-needed webinars and information sharing to help our social sector.

In the summer of 2020, Rubayi Estes became our Vice President, Programs. Her expertise in community engagement, data & evaluation, and grantmaking enriches our portfolio of giving and enhances our strategy for a better tomorrow. The Santa Barbara Foundation directed $7.2 million of our discretionary investments into our region with help from Estes and her team.

Also in 2020, communities across the country grappled with violence toward people of color, and doubled down on the war to end systemic racism. SBF deepened our efforts to do the same in honor of the many lives lost or affected by senseless violence. Out of love for the people of Santa Barbara County, SBF continues our pursuit of genuine, sustainable diversity, equity, inclusion, and access for all.

Recognizing critical gaps in community education, SBF became an early sponsor for the UCSB Arts & Lectures Race to Justice series, which continues well into 2021. We developed our own learning series, known as Coffee & Conversations, that features topics ranging from access and equity in health care, to providing platforms for Black community leaders. We also looked inward, creating a diversity, equity, inclusion, and access task force to examine the Foundation’s programmatic and operational work and to ensure we stay true to our mission.

We all share something special that many believe buoyed our spirits over the last year. That special something is the love we have for Santa Barbara County. It is your love of our community that makes our work possible. Together with our donors, we have invested $31 million in almost 3,000 total grants in 2020. And beyond dollars, our team shows up for those who need it most. Join us in sharing the love.

In Community,

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