Community Disaster Relief Fund Update
Report for the California Fires & Debris Flow: Relief & Recovery (31915) project
It is now a year ago, the Thomas Fire ignited in Ventura County and grew to 281,893 acres which was, at the time, the largest wildfire in modern California history. This was followed by the devastating debris flow in Montecito on January 9. Since then, we have had even more destructive natural disasters and now close to half of the state’s population managing through the challenges of recovery. This report covers the entire year’s grantmaking activities and proposed grant making with the recent funds raised for the Community Disaster Relief Fund.
Throughout this entire year, the Santa Barbara Foundation has taken on an important leadership role “behind the scenes.” This has meant supporting the infrastructure and partnerships that we and many others have invested in for the last ten years, as well as facilitating the learning and long term recovery processes that are inherent in disasters of this complexity and severity. It has also meant being part of a collaborative of community foundations that are evolving to meet the needs of our disaster-impacted regions as well as helping each other with “real-time” information sharing (e.g. lessons learned, replicable best practices, tools and templates).
As expected, in transitioning to longer term recovery efforts, there are fewer and fewer organizations at the table. There are even fewer funders that have remaining resources left to support the essential work that often emerges the more time passes. This includes supporting those that have managed to get through emotionally and financially the last several months, but that are just now realizing they can no longer do it on their own to those that are uninsured and underinsured that will need significant help in rebuilding or relocating.
This is why the Santa Barbara Foundation worked so hard the last several years to research and understand that the best role of a community foundation is to hold the “marathon” view instead of the “sprint.” There will usually be a wealth of resources that come in during the initial stages, but our communities will need years – if not a decade or more – to fully recover. Our communities are also (unfortunately) positioned in regards to additional catastrophic wildfire and debris flow events being likely, if not inevitable.
Distribution of Financial Resources
We were fortunate to have a very strong working relationship with the United Way of Santa Barbara so we were able to closely coordinate with each other to facilitate a flow of funding support to our nonprofit organizations during short term recovery. We served on the United Way’s Grants Committee that distributed an initial $500,000 to 16 organizations in February. Then United Way served on our Grants Committee for our Phase I distribution totaling $320,000 to 12 organizations in April. The following organizations received funding support from the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Community Disaster Relief Fund, contributions from GlobalGiving are shown in Bold:
- EasyLift ($5,000)
- Foodbank of Santa Barbara County ($25,000)
- Salvation Army ($25,000)
- Institute for Collective Trauma & Growth/ dba Riviera Care Center ($35,000)
- Habitat for Humanity ($35,000)
- Search Dog Foundation ($25,000)
- Women’s Economic Ventures ($25,000)
- Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine ($25,000)
- Hospice of Santa Barbara ($25,000)
- Santa Barbara County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster ($50,000)
- Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services ($20,000)
- Santa Barbara Response Network ($25,000)
Members of our Grants Committee included the following organizations:
- Santa Barbara County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SBCVOAD)
- The Aware & Prepare Initiative Executive Committee
- Emergency Management, City of Santa Barbara
- Emergency Management, City of Carpinteria
Since that time, the Santa Barbara Foundation has responded to several unique opportunities and provided funding support to the Aware & Prepare Initiative ($50,000), Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade ($5,000), Community Action Commission 211 Hotline ($7,200) and the Community Long Term Recovery Group ($2,816). We also supported the Foundation’s Core Support for Basic Needs grant cycle with a $50,000 contribution. This was specifically to supplement funding for the Mental Wellness Center and Family Service Agency who have played critical roles in emotional and spiritual care as well as disaster case management.
Even with all of the generosity in the immediate aftermath of the 1/9 Debris Flow, we still have disaster survivors that are experiencing significant financial distress. The Community Long Term Recovery Group is conducting an informal audit of all agency-led disaster case management. We should learn in early December the financial support that is needed to address individual unmet needs. The Santa Barbara Foundation will not be facilitating this process directly, but we are the lead for the Finance Group that raises funds in support of these needs. We are estimating up to $200,000 to be allocated from the Community Disaster Relief Fund for this purpose.
We will also be facilitating another grant cycle in early 2019 that will be open for nonprofit organizations to apply (even those that are not currently members of the Santa Barbara County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The criteria will emphasize support for their role in disaster long term recovery, specifically as it relates to emotional and spiritual care, rebuilding and reconstruction, and business/economic recovery. Given the amount of funding that we will have available, we will also be expanding the criteria to include mitigation and preparedness efforts recognizing that our communities will experience future, catastrophic events.
Thank you for your generosity in this important work.