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 

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June 22, 2021

Dear Friends,

In March 2020, 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, we are supporting these businesses. 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.  The County of Santa Barbara has committed over $800,000 to support microenterprises and small business through the Emergency Assistance Grant Program.

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, and the recovery of our community depends on it.  While there is light at the end of this tunnel, for many, 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 very much 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 over $38 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 $3,202,187 to 237 nonprofits in the first 61 cycles. Total requests so far have been $8,760,950 from 377 organizations. For the first few months, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort prioritized organizations that were meeting emergency needs and adaptive services. We then opened our program to provide grants to provide operating support for organizations. We are now prioritizing grant applications that focus on behavioral health needs, especially youth behavioral health; housing loss prevention; maintaining 0-5 child care capacity; and addressing senior issues such as isolation, nutritional needs, and delayed health care needs.

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

  • “Thank you so much for the recent grant award! We are truly honored to be supported by [the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort] and we are so happy to be one of your community partners.” – Casa Serena
  • We are thrilled to receive this generous support from the Joint Response Grants Committee and appreciate all that you have done for Santa Barbara County during these difficult times” – Solvang Senior Center
  • “I want to thank you for your recent generous donation of $10,000 through the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort. In this time of the COVID-19 crisis, your gift will allow HSB to continue our mission to care for the growing needs of individuals and families experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one” – Hospice of Santa Barbara

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.

As June 1, 2021, United Way has awarded 4,136 Individual Assistance, Rental Assistance and Utilities Assistance grants through the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort (CJRE), Cares Act / Appropriations Act and CDBG Federal funds. In total, $12,286,440 has been awarded.  14,164 households have submitted applications requesting financial support (please note that some applicants are duplicates and/or may not qualify for the assistance based on program guidelines). United Way and Family Service Agency staff continue to conduct remote interviews with all applicants to verify information and needs.

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

  • “Please accept our deepest thanks and appreciation for the financial help received, and thank you for the encouraging letter.  I am touched beyond words to have received this financial support which will be of great help to my family.”
  • “Thank you for your support as we all go through this difficult time.  I’m so blessed to live in a community that is generous and giving and is helping so many families get back of their feet – This includes myself and my daughter. There’s light at the end of the tunnel with this unprecedented circumstance. Thank you again for all that you’ve done for our little family we are forever grateful.”
  • “I want to thank you for your help.  You have been a godsend. My life has been made more manageable with the generosity of so many.  I hope you meet you somewhere along the way to thank each of you personally”

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 $1.1 million that will double the impact from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. In the city of Goleta, thirty-four small businesses recently received $295,500 to support the cost of re-opening, rent and other expenses to help them survive the pandemic. Supported by the County of Santa Barbara, thirty-eight small business in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County received $295,500.  A total of ninety-three businesses in the City of Carpinteria received $120,900, and $185,000 was distributed to twenty-four small businesses in the city of Santa Maria. In 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 provided $500,000 to seventy-one small, independently-owned dine-in restaurants in the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.

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