Community Conversations

Big Impacts for Small Business: COVID-19 Grantees Share Their Stories


We have heard the story repeatedly and we continue to live through it – how March 2020 changed our lives, how we all shifted our work to adjust to the pandemic and have lived with constant ambiguity. At the Santa Barbara Foundation, we worked to meet this moment by providing COVID-19 response grants to nonprofits, in addition to the many other ways we supported our community, as highlighted in our COVID-19 Impact Report. We then expanded our collaborations as we began to identify that small businesses were in dire need of support, we worked with businesses like Deckers’ Brands to develop the Santa Barbara Better Together program for small businesses in 2020 and government dollars were becoming more readily available in 2021 to continue to address the needs for our local economy.

“This opportunity is made possible through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” said George Chapjian, Director of Santa Barbara County Community Services Department. “The goal is to implement Community Development Block Grant programs that reduce the impacts of the pandemic. We are grateful to partners like Santa Barbara Foundation to make this grant program accessible to our countywide community.”

The partnership between County of Santa Barbara and SBF formed the COVID-19 Emergency Business Assistance Grant Program, where eligible businesses were able to apply for up to $25,000 for small businesses and $10,000 for microbusinesses. To date, 24 small businesses and microbusinesses received support totaling over $548,000. Below are select testimonials about the impact the COVID-19 Emergency Business Assistance Grant Program has had on local small businesses.

“I can’t tell you how much this program is going to impact the small businesses in Santa Barbara County in such a good way,” says Susie Gil, Payroll & Secretary of Elements Heating & Air in Buellton. “Elements Heating & Air has been one of the small businesses receiving this impactful support. After a long and hurtful COVID-19 [&] 2020 year – trying to stay above water, dealing not only with the lack of materials that got back-ordered for months, yet having to pay for them and leaving us with very little to continue to pay employees, rent, and utilities, etc. Elements Heating & Air is owned by my hard-working son Chris Gil. He started the business in 2017 when he was only 23; he will try anything to keep his business going and at the same time help the local economy in our beautiful Santa Barbara County. The emotional factor was also very hard. Most of us had COVID-19, had to take care of loved ones, and worked when we could. It was not easy, but again, we are thankful for Santa Barbara Foundation and County of Santa Barbara through the Emergency Business Assistance Grant Program. With this support, we will continue to serve our existing customers, and we can welcome new clients.”

“I am beyond grateful to the Santa Barbara Foundation and County of Santa Barbara for the continual support that they have provided me over the years,” says Kimberely Zimmerman, Founder of The Juicy Life Studio in Santa Ynez. “I received my first scholarship award in 2001 for academics from the Foundation and Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara as I headed off to study business and play soccer at UC Riverside. Recently their support through the Emergency Business Assistance Small Grant Program helped me to continue to serve our community through The Juicy Life. The Juicy Life is a wellness brand designed to help our members live their juiciest life possible through exercise, positive mindset, and cold pressed juice. Thank you, Santa Barbara Foundation and County of Santa Barbara, I am so grateful for your support.”

“After 40 years this grant will breathe new life into my salon!” Keith Marshall, Owner of Town and Country Beauty Salon in Santa Barbara mentioned, “I welcome the opportunity to share my vast experience with the community by introducing them to the educational side of cosmetology. I can suggest the correct hair maintenance products for their hair textures . . . shampoos, conditioners, blow dryers, combs, brushes etc.”

To learn more about the ongoing support of our local economy through the pandemic please visit


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