2020 has been a year unlike any other. In the midst of such upheaval and uncertainty, I am so proud of our community for coming together to support our most vulnerable residents during these difficult times.
Despite the hardships, there are many noteworthy accomplishments and milestones that our donors, volunteers and partners are responsible for helping to reach in 2020. Together, we forged ahead in the face of trying circumstances and demonstrated exactly what makes Santa Barbara County such a strong community.
Since its launch in March 2020, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County has raised a total of $5.2 million.
This countywide funders’ collaborative was launched by United Way, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Hutton Parker Foundation to provide financial support to residents in need and safety net nonprofit organizations. In just nine months, more than 2,400 individuals and nonprofits have been awarded close to $4.3 million through the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort. Grants to individuals continue to be reviewed and distributed in partnership with the Family Service Agency.
Additionally, United Way has raised or been awarded an additional $6.8 million to lead multiple crisis response/recovery programs and collaborative efforts, such as the Emergency Child Care Initiative, Public Health Critical Needs Initiative, CARES Act and CDBG Rental Assistance Programs (in partnership with the County of Santa Barbara, the city of Santa Barbara and the city of Goleta), Learning & Enrichment Centers Collaborative, and School District technology and supplies grants.
To date, these programs have benefited close to 2,300 individuals, organizations and school districts. Funds will continue to be available to serve our most vulnerable residents into 2021.
In total, more than $12 million has been made available through United Way, its community partners and you to improve the lives of local residents allowing them to stay housed and safe during this pandemic. One recipient wrote to tell us:
“I wanted to thank you for your generous gift. When I opened your letter, I had to read it again and again. Then I sat down on the bed and cried. I have never had this kind of help in my life. We began slipping on payments, and things were starting to snowball. What you have done for my family and the community is truly a blessing. Please thank everyone in your organization and all of your donors.”
In addition, United Way has expanded and adapted its core educational programming and created new collaborative efforts to ensure that children and families who are struggling with distance learning have the support they need.
These educational support services include the Virtual Fun in the Sun summer learning program, United for Literacy reading improvement program, and the Learning & Enrichment Centers Collaborative providing in-person individualized academic support.
Our community has shown its compassionate heart by supporting our neighbors in need. United Way of Santa Barbara County is honored for the trust and partnership of so many local individuals and organizations as they work together to meet our community needs. .
To learn more about United Way of Santa Barbara County’s multi-pronged COVID-19 response efforts, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/covid19.
Steve Ortiz is the CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County.