Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access

At the Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF), we seek to uplift the dignity of every individual as we aim to build empathetic, inclusive and resilient communities. 

Members of the SBF team at our South County office located at 1111 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara.

SBF stands against violence and racism and for equity and justice. We recognize that hate only divides us, and we are working towards a society that embraces a culture of respect for all. With that in mind, we bring our community together in education, embracing our differences and bridge understanding.

We believe all people deserve to live with dignity and respect, and as your community foundation, we work to ensure all communities here in Santa Barbara County have the resources they need to thrive. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for all Santa Barbara County residents, and we recognize that there are groups that have historically faced and continue to experience discrimination, injustice, and unequal access to basic resources, community spaces, and economic opportunities, making our work on behalf of these communities that much more urgent and intentional.

We embrace a culture of respect for all and celebrate our differences in age, color, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, geographic distribution and other characteristics that make our communities unique.

We stand against violence and racism and for equity and justice. We embrace a culture of respect for all and we urge you to join us. Jackie Carrera, President & CEO


DefinitionsOur Guiding PrinciplesOur JourneyDEIA in Action | Nonprofit Resources | DEIA Stories

Defining Our Work

How we define our commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access:

  • Diversity refers to the ways that people are different at the individual and group levels. Even when people appear the same, they are different. Organizational diversity requires examining and questioning the makeup of a group to ensure that multiple perspectives are represented. Diversity brings in new ideas, experiences, and perspectives that allow our organization and the communities we serve to grow and become more equitable, inclusive, and accessible.
  • Equity is the fair and just treatment of all members of a community. Equity requires a commitment to fostering diversity, respect, and civility, as well as ongoing action and assessment of progress toward achieving specified goals.
  • Inclusion refers to the intentional, ongoing effort to ensure that diverse individuals fully participate in all aspects of organizational work, including decision-making processes. It also refers to the ways that diverse participants are valued as respected members of an organization and/or community.
  • Access is the ability for the diverse populations served by SBF to engage with the Foundation in a meaningful way. Adoption of equitable access eliminates real and perceived barriers so that all are able to interact with the Foundation.

Definitions have been adapted from AAM DEAI Definitions.

Our Guiding Principles

The Santa Barbara Foundation is guided by the following diversity, equity and inclusion principles:

  • Respectful communication and cooperation.
  • Teamwork and participation, permitting the representation of all groups and perspectives.
  • Contributions to the communities we serve to promote a greater understanding and respect for their diversity.

Our Journey

Though diversity, equity, inclusion and access have been embraced by the Santa Barbara Foundation for a long time, in 2016, as we prepared to embark on a strategic planning process, staff and trustees deepened their exploration of our organizational culture to determine how we might be more effective in our pursuit of these values. During this process, improvements were made to our grantmaking and evaluation processes, our mission statement, and generally how we work in community with our partners.

Using the characteristics developed for the D5 Coalition, a group of organizations with connections to thousands of grantmakers, SBF evaluated our work in the context of this framework. Below is a sampling of our findings:

  • SBF has a grounding in and respect for local context.
    • Pre-COVID-19, staff make a practice of scheduling frequent site visits, having regular conversations with nonprofit partners, and scheduling site visits with every grantee from our annual grant making cycles.
    • The grantmaking team hosts learning communities with our funded partners to equalize knowledge.
    • In grantmaking, we apply an equity lens in our grant review process allowing for small to medium size organizations to compete by “going beyond what’s on paper” and gleaning their real contributions through interviews and conversation.
    • We support events like Juneteenth to support our local communities, engage with them and continue to learn from a broad base of people.
  • SBF has a mission that explicitly or implicitly values DEIA.
    • Incorporated “inclusivity” into our mission statement (2017).
    • Updated and incorporated DEIA statement into all SBF employee handbooks and job descriptions.
    • Prioritizes, celebrates and values a diverse staff and board.
    • Engages in staff trainings and with partners to further our knowledge and understanding of the diverse populations we serve.
  • SBF’s strategy targets structural issues.
    • Grantmaking strategy targets issues that both limit opportunities for people in the most vulnerable communities and bolster the capacity of organizations serving them.
    • SBF provides general operating support, capacity building grants, as well as technical assistance.
  • SBF engages nonprofits as partners.
    • SBF staff acknowledge the power and influence we have in our partnership with nonprofits and communities, and we seek to balance those power dynamics by equalizing knowledge and expertise.
  • SBF builds nonprofit partners’ capacity to engage their communities.
    • We established the Collaboration for Social Impact, elevating our commitment to advancing the strength and capacity of Santa Barbara County nonprofits. CSI is guided by a group of 8 eight nonprofit executive directors.
  • SBF uses evaluation as a learning tool.
    • SBF created a Division of Learning and Evaluation and is currently working to develop a results based outcome system for accountability to our community, stakeholders and our strategic plan.
    • In accomplishing the above, we have engaged nonprofit and government partners to help guide this work.

Following the horrific events of 2020, including the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, SBF Board of Trustees and staff engaged in a heartfelt discussion about systemic racism in our communities. While DEIA work is not new to SBF, it was agreed that we should reflect further on how it plays out in our efforts to meet our mission. At the request of CEO Jackie Carrera, the Board approved the formation of a DEIA Task Force to examine SBF’s current programmatic and operational work to see where implicit biases may be present and to identify opportunities to proactively combat racism exist.

The Task Force, made up of Trustees and staff, launched in August of 2020. Periodic reports will be posted here to ensure that our stakeholders are aware of our progress. We welcome all input and feedback.

DEIA In Action

The Foundation tries to maximize opportunities to engage with our communities and impact meaningful change in regards to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access. Below are few recent examples of how we work side by side with community partners to address issues related to DEIA.

We recognize that we still have a lot to learn and that with each new experience and relationship, we will evolve along our DEIA journey. We will continue to listen, learn, reflect, and take bold action when opportunities arise to make our county a more equitable place to live, work, and thrive.

The Santa Barbara Foundation is a proud sponsor of community education events around race and equity, including UCSB Art & Lectures’ Race to Justice series.

Community Leadership

In June of 2020, SBF made a statement in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, noting that “We stand against violence and racism and for equity and justice. We embrace a culture of respect for all and we urge you to join us.”

SBF is a lead sponsor of UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Race to Justice series, which brings notable authors, artists, and activists to the virtual stage to educate the community around issues related to race and justice. Additionally, we have recently sponsored two community conversations through a local organization, Coffee with a Black Guy. As a part of our own Coffee & Conversations series, SBF has hosted two events on the topic of Black community leadership.

The Santa Barbara Foundation also serves as the fiscal sponsor for a number of organizations working to directly address DEIA in our communities, including Healing Justice Santa Barbara and Juneteenth Santa Barbara.

In 2020, SBF awarded a 2020 COVID-19 Response Grant to the Latinx and Indigenous Migrant COVID-19 Response Task Force, a group that advocates for Indigenous communities, Latinx families, and migrant farmworkers.

In March, 2021, the Foundation along with the Fund for Santa Barbara and its sister foundations, the Ventura County Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, hosted the Direct Service Providers Convening on Immigration. The convening gathered nearly 100 service provider representatives to share information and updates and provided an opportunity to network. This is the second time the Santa Barbara Foundation has hosted this event.

Starting in 2018 and extending through October 2020, the Foundation partnered with the County of Santa Barbara to lead a massive countywide effort to educate the public on the importance of participation in the 2020 Census. This effort was undertaken to assure that our county would have an accurate count and that certain groups that have been traditionally undercounted, such as Blacks, and Hispanics, were correctly represented in the count. The result of all of this was that the county had an increase in self-response rate of 3.3% over the 2010 count.

Grantmaking Support

SBF has provided grants to various organizations whose missions align with DEIA. Here are a few grantees who have utilized SBF funds to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and/or access in the communities they serve:

Kimberly Gomez receiving a scholarship in 2019 on behalf of SBF and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

Currently, SBF does not have grantmaking specifically geared towards racial justice. However, our grantmaking strategically targets structural issues that both limit opportunities for people in the most vulnerable communities and bolsters the capacity of organizations serving them.

Additionally, SBF provides funding to reduce the academic achievement gap, including directing funds to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara to provide support for low-income, foster youth, unsheltered youth, and DACA; and partnership with Endowment for Youth Committee for educational support for African American students, low-income students, and other youth at risk.

DEIA Resources for Nonprofits

The Foundation’s Collaboration for Social Impact offers a selection of resources to support nonprofits who either incorporate, or are working to incorporate, the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and access into their organizational culture.


DEIA Stories

View a collection of stories below that highlight our community partners working to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access in Santa Barbara County.

Healing Justice Santa Barbara Uplifts Our Black Community

BY KARA SHOEMAKER | March 5, 2021 Introduction At the Santa Barbara Foundation, our mission is to build and support empathetic, inclusive, and resilient communities, and we strive to uplift […]

CAUSE Fights for Systemic Change on the Central Coast

SAM WATERSTONE | September 18, 2020 “Racism is the tinder, COVID-19 was the fuel, and George Floyd was the spark,” said Maricela Morales, the Executive Director of the Central Coast […]

Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Puts DEI Plan into Action

BY KARA SHOEMAKER | March 8, 2021 After the events of 2020, building out an effective Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan became a key priority for many nonprofit organizations […]

805 UndocuFund Provides Safety Net for Undocumented Residents

BY KARA SHOEMAKER | May 7, 2020 With COVID-19 reaching Santa Barbara County on March 15, and Governor Newsom issuing the executive order to shelter in place just a few […]