Our nonprofit sector is working long hours to meet community needs during this incredibly challenging time. To avoid burdening our grant recipients further with interview requests, we are providing the following stories of several nonprofit response efforts. We hope to showcase more of our nonprofits’ incredible work through additional articles on our website at a later date.
BY KARA SHOEMAKER
“Within 24 hours of schools closing we knew we had to do something immediate for the community,” recalled Jen Baron, Executive Director of Girls Rock Santa Barbara. “I asked our web designer ‘how quickly can you get an online learning platform up?’ Her response: ‘By 8:00pm tonight.’ So I sent an email out to our entire teaching staff and basically said, ‘I have an idea. How would you all like to sign up to teach classes with us online?’”
With the announcement that schools in Santa Barbara County would be closed for the remainder of the academic year, Baron knew there were two major needs to fill: youth would need access to online education, and teachers/musicians/artists who were suddenly put out of work would be struggling financially and need a source of income.
Today, Girls Rock is offering over 100 classes for co-ed youth worldwide (4th through 12th grade), and hopes to launch a partnership with a major online teaching platform very soon. In addition, Girls Rock teachers are taking home around $50/hour for their classes and the feedback from families has been positive.
“I think more than ever it’s about community for us right now. It’s checking in with our team and our families. It’s about finding ways we can help. We started doing Facebook Live concerts called Raise Her Up a few weeks back, every Wednesday at 7:00pm on the Girls Rock SB Facebook page,” said Baron, “Last week we had three amazing women play live from Nashville, including Santa Barbara born and raised musician, Cate Graves. We raised $7,500 for a family whose husband/father is currently in critical care on life support due to COVID-19. We will help out wherever/however we can.”
Girls Rock is also planning on launching a new online program called “Peer to Peer,” a mentorship program in which high school students teach private music lessons to elementary students in order to earn their community service hours. “I know how much I would have loved having a high school student as a mentor when I was younger,” said Baron. Anyone who would like to participate in this program can email Girls Rock at email@example.com.
As with many other youth education nonprofits in our community, Girls Rock relies heavily on tuition from its summer programs to cover year-round operating expenses. With those in-person programs shut down indefinitely due to COVID-19, finding funding to cover payroll is currently the organization’s biggest challenge. Girls Rock recently received a Small Capacity Building Grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation, but is seeking additional funding to ensure the organization can meet community needs during this difficult time. To make a donation to Girls Rock Santa Barbara, please visit: girlsrocksb.org/donate.