When we started the Santa Cruz Gives holiday drive, we called it “a new way to give” and “the future of giving.” Well, with the campaign having raised almost half a million dollars for local nonprofits as we go into our fourth year, it’s safe to say that the future is now.
Santa Cruz Gives has been embraced by the community in a whole new way this year, with the venerable Community Foundation Santa Cruz County contributing $20,000 to help our participating nonprofits reach their goals. And in turn, Santa Cruz Gives has evolved into a sort of fundraising hub for many nonprofits, where they learn from the expertise of our partners at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County—and from each other—some of the most cutting-edge ways to engage local donors on social media and in their day-to-day operations. Those donors—and hopefully we’re talking about you here—are the reason for every great thing that nonprofits do here.
So take a look at the groups that were selected for this year’s Santa Cruz Gives, and everything that they hope to accomplish with your help this holiday season. Then, go to santacruzgives.com and give to the one or two or 20 that inspire you. And besides Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, we’d also like to thank the business sponsors that inspire this program: Santa Cruz County Bank, Wynn Capital Management and Oswald.
Organization Mission: All About Theatre’s mission is to inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate and empower artists and audiences in the Santa Cruz County area. We provide a healthy and wholesome ambassadorship for the arts and open the door to new life experiences. We are dedicated to providing financially accessible arts experiences to all communities, regardless of size or economic status. We strive to use participation in the performing arts as a vehicle to develop life skills for all.
Big Idea: Arts for All
Community is at the core of what we do. We are blessed to serve more than 400 individuals per year in the county. This project is tailored to serve children and families in South County, to build a bridge to share the riches of our joint communities. Arts for All has already begun, but with your support it could soar.
Theater enables us to make lifelong friendships with people we would never have otherwise met, and to learn about cultures other than our own. Families as well as kids continually inspire each other and foster a community spirit that keeps on growing. The professional-level skills we teach are also job skills in high demand in the flourishing entertainment industry.
While not every child wants to be on stage, every child has the capacity to be moved, learn empathy, laugh, and be awed by the special magic that happens during a live performance—whether on stage, in the audience, or backstage. Our professional training also covers tech, running equipment, stage management, hair and make-up design, and more.
Organization Mission: Balance4kids addresses the needs of children with disabilities by working together with private organizations, parents and public schools. We seek to increase student success by bringing alternative supplemental programs to public education and the home, and supporting the inadequate existing resources for children with disabilities.
Big Idea: Teacher Grant Foundation
Our Teacher Grant Foundation gives an average of $40,000 in supplies to local teachers every year. Local teachers, specialists and administrators are invited to appeal to us for classroom supplies that their school budget doesn’t cover. With your support, we can give more desperately needed supplies, from tablets to therapeutic equipment, and go a long way in making our hardworking teachers’ jobs just a little easier.
In addition, we provide highly qualified, in-class, paraprofessional support that saves the school districts we serve tens of thousands of dollars annually. We also provide children and young adults with and without disabilities a place to socialize through activities such as book clubs, cooking, gardening, theater, and field trips.
Organization Mission: Our goal is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. With the support of volunteer mentors, children are more likely to stay in school, stay out of the juvenile justice system, and make healthy choices that lead to productive lives. We envision a community where all children achieve success in life.
Big Idea: Big Brothers Big Sisters Transgender Youth Mentoring
Mentoring relationships can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Make A Match program, volunteers are carefully paired with children who face serious challenges of poverty, single-parent homes, or are exposed to gangs, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed the lives of more than 6,500 local children in the past 35 years. We assess, create, supervise, and provide ongoing support to mentoring matches. After thorough screening and training, volunteer mentors commit to spending 10-20 hours monthly with a child for at least one year.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County initiated a program of matching transgender youth with volunteer transgender adult mentors in 2015. We are requesting funding to help continue to serve these children and youth. Discrimination and bias typically begins in childhood, as transgender youth explore their gender identity, and these children are at high risk of harassment, physical and sexual violence, and suicide. Numerous studies document the pervasive injustice and bias faced by transgender people in every aspect of life.
This program applies the proven Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring approach to reach this underserved population. We work in partnership with the Queer Youth Task Force of Santa Cruz, the Transfamily Support Group of Santa Cruz, and other organizations to implement the program, which serves as a national model. It is estimated that 120 to 400 county youth could be candidates for this program.
Organization Mission: CASA is a child’s voice in dependency court, providing advocacy, stability and hope to children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. This support has had a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of children and youth in foster care. They receive many health, emotional and educational resources they might not otherwise receive. “CASA children” have a higher rate of adoption than those without an advocate, are less likely to return to the system, and are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care. Eighty-three percent of our youth graduated from high school, compared to the state average of 45 percent.
Big Idea: Advocate Training with Focus on Bilingual Volunteers
CASA empowers volunteers to directly influence life-changing decisions affecting children in foster care. To accomplish this, CASA recruits, screens, trains, and supervises volunteer advocates who work one-on-one with youth in the dependency care system, advocating for their best interests in court, in school, and in the community.
This year, in addition to recruiting and training all types of advocates, we will place emphasis on bilingual advocates. There are many children referred to our program from the foster care system who come from Spanish-speaking monolingual families. We want to make sure that volunteers can connect with the children and parents in a meaningful way. They will be more effective if they can listen, understand, and speak up for the best interests of a child who has been abused, neglected or abandoned.
Organization Mission: We build cadres of volunteers and empower them with the skills, knowledge and confidence for safely serving as immediate responders in disasters affecting their communities in Santa Cruz County. We accomplish this by supporting the Santa Cruz Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Council and other disaster service organizations to develop and sustain the CERT program—with no paid staff and 1,150 volunteers.
Big Idea: Expansion of CERT Basic & Advanced Training
We aim to expand and adapt our CERT basic and advanced training to reflect the unique geographical areas in Santa Cruz County. We will develop a training branch that focuses on mountain communities’ needs and one that serves coastal communities. All basic CERT skills are taught by each training branch, but each branch can tailor training needs for their area’s disaster challenges.
We are requesting support to partially cover the cost of training equipment, specifically for a full-body manikin and a chin lift, head tilt manikin for our light search and rescue, and disaster-medicine training units. The two manikins cost approximately $1,500.
We also hope to conduct more Basic CERT classes concurrently. In the past year, we met our goal of adding 26 more FEMA-trained volunteer CERT instructors and are now able to offer even more Basic CERT Trainings and Advanced Trainings which require the manikins, and backpacks containing $60 of safety gear such as: hard hat, safety vest, eye protection goggles, N95 dust masks, gas turn-off tool, flashlight, duct tape, leather gloves, whistle, first aid supplies, etc. Backpacks are given at no cost to each CERT trained volunteer for personal protection.
Organization Mission: People protect what they know and love. That’s why the Coastal Watershed Council (CWC) works to transform the lower San Lorenzo River into a beloved community destination by inspiring people to explore, enhance and protect this critical natural resource. CWC fulfills its mission to preserve and protect coastal watersheds through community stewardship, education and monitoring through the revitalization of your beautiful waterway.
Big Idea: San Lorenzo River Revitalization
The San Lorenzo River and the park along its banks were once the celebrated heart of the city. The river is the main drinking water source for 100,000 people, and also provides habitat for endangered species, fish, birds and wildlife. The river is crucial to public health and could be a natural respite, popular greenway and gathering space amid Santa Cruz’s urban downtown—yet it feels more like a back alley than the city’s central park.
When Santa Cruzans avoid the river, we become disconnected from it, which keeps us from understanding the river’s benefits, how we rely on it, and how our daily actions impact local waterways.
In other communities, rivers are alternative transportation corridors, drivers of economic activity, visitor destinations, and natural spaces where people feel proud and safe. Rivers can transform our well-being. By rebuilding personal connections to our river and the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, CWC is shifting the way we interact with this critical natural resource. The result is both a healthier watershed and a healthier, more vibrant community as we feel safe outdoors and enjoy a park—a space of connection—in the heart of Santa Cruz.
Organization Mission: The Conflict Resolution Center offers affordable, accessible mediation and mediator training to residents of Santa Cruz County. Our programs address conflict at all stages—from prevention to intervention—in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and courts. We provide effective alternatives to litigation, hostility and violence. Through respectful dialogue, participants create their own mutually beneficial solutions. We believe that by building relationships and understanding between people, we help create more peaceful and safe communities.
Big Idea: Peaceful Engagement
Starting the new 2019 year fresh, CRC will embark on a community-wide engagement campaign to promote the use of peaceful dialogue through facilitation, mediation and education. We will organize monthly community events to bring people together and have difficult conversations on topics that matter. We hope you will join us!
In cases where parties might find themselves in court, we offer free or affordable mediation services that greatly reduce overall costs, hassle, and most importantly, unnecessary and prolonged animosity that can cause lasting, unpleasant community relations. From neighbor disputes over fences to divorce to landlord-tenant issues and parent-teen challenges, CRC mediation can be the ideal choice because both sides will be facilitated into an agreement that is suitable for both, leaving hostile situations out of the picture.
CRC also facilitates a restorative and healing dialogue between victims and offenders.
Organization Mission: To create lasting oral health for the underserved children and adults of Santa Cruz County and neighboring communities.
Big Idea: Give Kids a Smile Day
Our 15th Annual Give Kids a Smile Day will provide free dental care and oral health education to 30-40 uninsured children of Santa Cruz County. Our goal is to make prevention more common than treatment, so that kids can focus on school instead of a toothache.
This day of free care serves kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks—families who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal and can’t afford even discounted dental care at local clinics. Dientes aims to instill healthy habits and positive experiences with the dentist so that kids can continue good oral health throughout life.
Organization Mission: Downtown Streets Team is ending homelessness by restoring dignity and rebuilding lives of men and women. Serving the community through work teams prepares members for permanent employment and housing.
Big Idea: Santa Cruz Downtown Streets Team
DST team members, all of whom are homeless or at risk of homelessness, volunteer 20 hours per week in Santa Cruz, cleaning and mitigating litter on streets, in parks, on the river and beaches from Main to North County. With support from Santa Cruz Gives, DST will be able to support team members with basic needs stipends—gift cards that ensure team members have the means to purchase food, medication, transportation passes and more.
DST provides wrap-around support services, from case management and employment readiness to interview clothes, training certifications and stipends. $3,000 would pay for 14 percent of our SC Team Members stipends for one year.
Organization Mission: The Every Child Outdoors Foundation is founded on the principle of equity that all students should have the opportunity to experience environmental and outdoor education, regardless of financial circumstances. We reduce financial barriers to outdoor education for students in Santa Cruz County.
Big Idea: Every Child Outdoors Scholarship Program
Santa Cruz County’s Outdoor Science School, affectionately known as “science camp,” has been a rite of passage for elementary school students for more than 50 years. However, the program is fee-based and many students lack the means to participate.
With your support, in 2019 the Every Child Outdoors Scholarship Program will provide financial assistance toward fees to approximately 1,000 local fifth-grade students. When students spend a week living and learning with classmates in the Santa Cruz Mountains, many report feeling more connected to nature and more comfortable in nature, more interested in science, and more likely to work to help the environment in their community. Students say they felt calm in the forest, they realized science could be fun, and they can better take on challenges. Teachers have observed that the camp is “life-changing” and “an essential milestone.”
Organization Mission: FoodWhat’s energized name speaks to its mission as a youth empowerment and food justice organization. FoodWhat partners with low-income and struggling youth across Santa Cruz County to grow, cook, eat, and distribute healthy, sustainably raised food, and address local food justice issues. FoodWhat creates a safe space where youth experience profound personal growth and transformation, radical diet change, critical job training, and step into relevant activism.
Big Idea: Radical Diet Change – Spring Internship
Every year, hundreds of young people apply for 60 available spots in FoodWhat’s programming. In 2019, we will set out to increase the number of positions and offer more life-changing and community-building opportunities to meet the expressed needs of young people, particularly those based in Watsonville.
We partner with struggling yet resilient youth who suffer disproportionately from problems associated with poverty: barriers to education, severely limited employment options, community violence, and compromised health. Through FoodWhat, young participants begin their journey in radical diet change, job preparedness and personal growth through food, farming, activism and community events. They go on to use their power, experience and skill to create a lasting relationship with healthy food and living built in their own terms.
As a result, FoodWhat youth are changing the culture around health. Our Spring Internship often represents their first step.
Organization Mission: Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries supports the Santa Cruz City-County library system through fundraising, volunteer services and advocacy. Donations fund traditional items such as books and media, emergency needs such as replacing deteriorated furniture, new computer technology, and a wealth of cultural and educational programs for your favorite branch.
Big Idea: 2018-19 STEAM Programs
We have gone from STEM to STEAM. We are adding the Arts to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (which are highly correlated with innovation) because we believe art and design will transform the economy in this century.
Most of the STEAM programs at SCPL have 100 percent enrollment with waiting lists. Your support will allow libraries to increase the number of students, many from low-income families, who gain experience in solving real world problems through identifying, framing and solving problems collaboratively.
Your support will fund supplies for programs for children of various ages that include designing, programming and building robots; Minecraft classes to teach coding; LEGO Simple and Not-So Simple Machines for a hands-on approach to engineering; and more.
Organization Mission: To inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold, and to respect themselves and the world around them. We provide girls with tools and support, research-based programming, and trained professionals who mentor them in a safe environment of peers who share their aspirations. Girls learn to set and achieve goals, boldly confront challenges, resist peer pressure, see college as attainable, and explore nontraditional fields.
Big Idea: Friendly PEERsuasion Program
The Friendly PEERsuasion after-school program teaches girls communication skills, stress management, awareness of tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and how to resist negative peer and media pressures, and bullying. Teen girls are positive influences to facilitate and model healthy behavior for younger girls.
Phase I (12 weeks): Train girls aged 11-14 to facilitate programs on decision-making, assertiveness, communication skills, and practice walking away from situations where they feel pressured to use alcohol or drugs.
Phase II (six weeks): The new “PEERsuaders” conduct substance-abuse prevention activities for children aged six-10.
Organization Mission: Grey Bears improves the health and well-being of seniors through food distribution, volunteerism and environmental preservation. Our vision is that all seniors live healthy, meaningful lives. Grey Bears has grown into one of the most resourceful food distribution and recycling nonprofits in the U.S.
Big Idea: Moving Forward at Every Age
Grey Bears is a nutritional lifeline for 3,800 low-income seniors. Our Healthy Food for Seniors program delivers brown bags of fresh produce and healthy staples to aging adults each week. Additional daily food distributions support thousands more. It adds up to the equivalent of two million meals each year.
Hundreds of mostly-senior volunteers enjoy all sorts of volunteer opportunities. Their service makes our programs possible while cultivating social support systems and health benefits for both volunteers and participants. Weekly classes include chair yoga, Spanish, cooking, tech help, fix-it clinics, and lunch events that keep seniors active and socially engaged, and help them age with joy, grace and dignity.
Organization Mission: The Homeless Garden Project is an organic urban farm that provides job training, transitional employment and support services to people who are homeless. With an emphasis on creating a thriving and inclusive community, as well as growing the local food system, the project provides people with the tools to build a home in the world. The Homeless Garden Project also supports the community with a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), and an education and volunteer program that blends formal, experiential and service-learning.
Big Idea: Impact Fund for Trainee Wages
Santa Cruz County has one of the largest homeless populations by county in the U.S. Our success rate of 92 percent for employment and housing achieved by recent graduates speaks to our 28 years of innovating for better and more sustainable services for this population and, ultimately, for improving the community.
In order to support our trainee graduates’ transition into jobs and housing, and retention of jobs, our request to Santa Cruz Gives is to support our Impact Fund program. This program provides individuals experiencing homelessness with not just a paycheck, but also with a job that offers support, education and training—that is, a path to stability, independence and a home that lasts.
Organization Mission: Homeless Services Center partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness into permanent housing.
Big Idea: Recuperative Care Center
It is estimated that in Santa Cruz County each person living on the street costs our community $70,000-$80,000 per year in emergency services. In contrast, it costs an estimated $17,000-$22,000 for supportive services to house that same person. One of the high costs is in repeat visits to the hospital for those who lack a home for recuperation.
The Recuperative Care Center is an innovative medical respite program for people experiencing homelessness who need safety and stability to recover from significant medical treatment. Homeless individuals discharged from inpatient stays at local hospitals may stay at the RCC and recover while receiving follow-up
medical care and integrated social services including housing navigation, mental health care, benefits enrollment, and substance abuse treatment.
All Homeless Services Center programs operate with a Housing First methodology, a recovery-oriented approach to quickly move people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing and providing additional support as needed.
These programs save our community millions of dollars every year, while also saving lives. People are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness, mental health and addiction issues as it is for anyone.
Organization Mission: Every day, the team at Jacob’s Heart works tirelessly to improve the quality of life for children with cancer and support their families in the challenges they face with no-cost services funded entirely through community donations. Since 1998, we have been at the side of hundreds of local children with cancer and thousands of their family members as they navigated the journey from diagnosis through an uncertain future. Our vision is to create a community where every child with a serious or life-threatening condition has a strong, supported and informed family empowered to participate in their care.
Big Idea: Heart on Wheels Transportation Program
When your child has cancer or another serious illness, traveling back and forth to treatment is emotionally exhausting and expensive. The Heart-on-Wheels program provides door-to-door rides for children undergoing intensive treatment in partnership with Central California Alliance for Health. Heart on Wheels also provides prepaid gas cards and bicultural transportation coordination.
Most importantly, the program provides extra layers of comfort, support and shared experience on the journey. Jacob’s Heart drivers include volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians and family counselors, trained to address the practical and emotional challenges families face during long trips from home to Palo Alto and San Francisco.
Through Santa Cruz Gives, Jacob’s Heart seeks to rally support from the community to provide 100 additional families with gas cards, door-to-door rides and support. Together, our community can alleviate an enormous source of stress during the unimaginable journey of serious illness and the potential death of a child.
Organization Mission: We empower youth and families to sustain healthy food, farming, social and natural systems by teaching farming skills, transforming food habits, and developing environmental literacy and stewardship. The goal is for each individual to form a relationship with food that supports personal, community and environmental health.
Big Idea: Summer Farm Camp Scholarships for Youth
Farm Discovery will provide scholarships, leadership training and summer jobs for 50 local, low-income youth from all parts of the county. We will collaborate with the Diabetes Health Center (DHC) of Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust. In the last two years, nearly 40 percent of patients served by DHC were under 20 years old, and 88 percent had a primary diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes or Obesity.
The summer camps take place on Live Earth Farm’s 150-acre working organic farm, riparian corridor, oak and redwood forest in the Pajaro Valley. The farm fields, animal pens and kitchen classroom provide a perfect setting for positively transforming young people’s relationship to food and the environment as they learn about the importance of caring for their bodies, the environment and their community.
Campers, Leaders in Training (LIT) and Junior Staff plant, pick, preserve and prepare fresh produce; save seeds; make compost; and create healthy snacks, learning real skills to improve health.
Organization Mission: The Live Like Coco Foundation helps local kids grow up healthy and with opportunities to pursue their dreams. Our foundation is named after and inspired by Coco Lazenby, a self-described “book lover, cat petter and environmentalist” who was killed in a car accident in August 2015 at age 12. To honor Coco’s bright spirit and big heart, our foundation works in four areas that made a difference in her life: literacy, nature, health and wellness, and funding for out-of-school activities (such as theater, horseback riding, art and computer programming).
Big Idea: Birthday Books From Coco
Our unique Birthday Books From Coco program offers students at participating schools the opportunity to choose a new book on their own birthday. More than 72 percent of the elementary-school students we serve qualify for free or reduced lunch. For many of these children, it is the first book they have owned.
With your support, we hope to reach two more school sites with Birthday Books From Coco, delivering more than 1,000 additional books to kids in our public schools. We’d also like to continue building other local literacy programs, including purchasing picture books and Spanish books for a summer book giveaway at the Watsonville Farmers Market, and building Little Free Libraries.
Organization Mission: Pajaro Valley Arts presents programming year-round at no cost to the public to fulfill its vision to bring the community together through the power of the arts. By presenting art exhibits and cultural events, PVA is the only arts organization in South County that offers the public a rich diversity of art and artists in a gallery setting.
The Big Idea: Vote! Your Vote is Your Voice
We would like to register and motivate people to get out and vote! Our spring exhibition seeks to educate, inspire, and develop greater interest in the democratic process.
The exhibit will illustrate locals in historic and current voting rights struggles, and artists will interpret the question: “What does the right to vote mean to me, my community, and/or my country?”
We hope to address the meaning of the youth vote, issues we can influence through our vote, voter suppression, and more, as well as provide on-site voter registration during the exhibit.
PVA showcases the work of regional artists based on relevant historical and contemporary themes, and promotes arts education in collaboration with more than 40 schools, colleges, educational programs, and nonprofits.
Organization Mission: Pajaro Valley Shelter Services empowers single mothers, single fathers, and two-parent households with children to move out of homelessness and move into permanent housing and self-sufficiency. We provide temporary shelter, transitional housing and long-term affordable housing to achieve safety and stability. Our strength-based, bilingual, and culturally sensitive case management is proven to empower families to overcome the obstacles that led to their homelessness.
Big Idea: Tenant Education to End Family Homelessness
Please partner with us to bridge the gap between homeless families and landlords.
With Tenant Education, PVSS builds a path to strong partnerships between tenants and landlords.
PVSS empowers families with children to be responsible, informed tenants. Client families are accountable to timely rent payments, conscientious communications, and maintaining their homes in good condition. They also gain knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.
By addressing landlord concerns, landlords will want to rent to graduates from PVSS programs.
With 22 housing units, PVSS is a site of community empowerment, serving more than 7,500 people in 35 years. About 75 to 85 percent of families who leave our programs find stable housing and become self-sufficient. You change lives: your support empowers families to transcend the cycle of homelessness.
Organization Mission: The Resource Center for Nonviolence promotes the practice of nonviolence as a means of effecting personal and social change and creating a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. This commitment to nonviolence is rooted in reverence for life in all its forms, and the dignity of all persons.
Big Idea: Project Regeneration: Nonviolence Training for Youth
Project Regeneration is to teach Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s six steps of nonviolent action to students at a public high school. Students will choose a social change issue they’d like to work on, then learn and apply the Kingian process to identify, investigate, address, negotiate, take public action, and reconcile social justice issues that impact them at school or in their community.
In this way, Project Regeneration will develop the next generation of nonviolent leaders. RCNV also provides a facility and organizational support for community members to work for human rights, economic justice, racial justice, peace, refusing militarism, environmental sustainability, and more. In the past year, more than 100 local nonprofit organizations used our space for events, meetings and constructive work.
Organization Mission: To steward clean shores, healthy habitats and living waters to foster a truly thriving Monterey Bay and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Big Idea: Monthly Kayak Cleanups
The sloughs, rivers, creeks and other waterways that flow into our Monterey Bay carry litter and debris. This pollution gets trapped on shores, coves and river bends until heavy rains flush it all out to sea.
Last year, Save Our Shores ran a pilot program of 15 river and slough cleanups with volunteers in kayaks. We soon established that a well-run kayak cleanup is not only an enormously valuable cleanup but also a hugely enjoyable experience for participants, especially students.
We hope to raise $30,000 to make these cleanings a monthly activity at Save Our Shores. Funding will be used for planning, coordination, permitting, implementation, equipment rental and waste hauling. Please help eliminate marine debris closer to its source so it does not land on our beaches and in our Sanctuary.
A thriving Bay is essential to the well-being of every person who lives here, and is one of the most important drivers of our economy and our collective spirit.
Organization Mission: In Santa Cruz County, the primary organization safeguarding the lives of domestic animals is the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. With an intake exceeding 5,000 animals per year, SCCAS has municipal funding only for core services such as animal control, licensing, rabies vaccinations, housing for strays and surrenders, and intervention in abuse cases.
Big Idea: Prevention! Prevention! Prevention!
According to the 2017-18 National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of county residents have at least one pet, adding up to more than 200,000 companion animals. The county’s mandatory spay/neuter law for dogs and cats has little effect without affordable services for families who cannot afford the cost.
SCCAS seeks to double its clinic space for low-cost spay/neuter services, as these services are one of the most effective ways to curtail the tragic flow of unwanted dogs and cats. The shelter population has dropped each year, but limited space leaves SCCAS with long waiting lists that have the effect of turning folks away. Please join us in expanding the number of animals that can be treated.
Organization Mission: Senderos is an all-volunteer organization that forges pathways to success for Latino youth through free music and dance programs, and fosters educational opportunities that would not otherwise be available. Senderos has established cultural pride in in the face of racism and gang involvement, with 80 youth currently performing at more than 30 events each year.
Big Idea: Crossing Borders: Cultural Arts for Youth
Senderos’ 2019 project is to meet the greater demand for its free after-school Mexican folkloric dance and traditional music instruction. The 30-plus community and school performances are now seen by more than 25,000 annually.
There is a need for traditional dance outfits, as well as instruments to expand the instrument-lending library for young musicians to practice and perform. Senderos’ very popular public performances help our youth and their families feel “seen” and appreciated in the public arena, and open up avenues for greater tolerance, positive collaboration and community well-being.
In today’s political climate it is more important than ever to support Latino youth and their families. Gracias!
Organization Mission: Our goal is to build an equitable community where LGBTQ+ people thrive. We envision a healthy, vibrant, diverse LGBTQ+ community, free from fear, hatred and prejudice.
Big Idea: LGBTQ+ Seniors Building Community
Most LGBTQ+ older adults have experienced a lifetime of discrimination. They are often estranged from family members who rejected them, and are more likely to be single, live alone, and less likely to have children.
To cut through this isolation, The Diversity Center is offering outdoor get-togethers, recreational activities and shared community meals. We are also offering workshops about how to improve physical and mental health.
Our seniors have made magnificent contributions to the LGBTQ+ movement for equality, and we honor their efforts. The Diversity Center also provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth through support groups and community events.
We benefit the entire county by hosting educational workshops about gender and sexuality for health care providers, county agencies, schools, and nonprofit organizations.
Organization Mission: UnChained fosters empathy, respect and responsibility in youth through the human-animal bond.
Big Idea: Canines Teaching Compassion
UnChained teaches underserved youth to train homeless dogs in basic skills and good manners, helping to place the dogs into adoptive homes. The youth develop values of patience, respect and responsibility for themselves and others through trust and relationship-building with their dogs. Working with dogs who share similar experiences of neglect, abandonment, and abuse enables youth to experience compassion and respect for others, while building confidence and self-worth. As the dogs succeed, youth thrive knowing they have helped find a home for a dog who loves and accepts them unconditionally.
In 2019, UnChained will expand services to youth and dogs, and with seven years of graduates, UnChained wants to reinvest in its youth by offering vocational training and community service opportunities, as well as add college scholarships for its youth graduates.
Organization Mission: Vision loss affects one in eight people in Santa Cruz County. Vista Center’s mission is to empower individuals who are visually impaired or blind to embrace life to its fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.
Big Idea: Vision for Our Youth Tomorrow
Students who are blind or visually impaired face many educational challenges that put them at greater risk for school failure than their sighted peers. Most youth with vision impairments in our community don’t have access to technology outside of school, nor the training they need, and lack a connection with mentors.
New adaptive technology evens the playing field, opening doors that would otherwise remain closed, and allowing effectiveness not only at school, but in work and social interactions.
Vista Center’s training program, Vision for Our Youth Tomorrow, provides middle and high school students with visual impairments with adaptive technology, training, mentoring and support to prepare them for higher education and a career. Learning to use an iPad as a mini computer, students with vision impairments can accomplish word processing, email, web research and most importantly, read books easily. They can take notes and turn in assignments just like their sighted peers.
Vista Center offers classes, tech labs and user groups/workshops geared specifically for middle or high school students and provides each youth with an iPad upon completion of the program, ensuring continued independence.
Vista Center also partners with local technology companies to provide hands-on, real world experiences for students. Past companies and local partners include Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and UCSC.
Organization Mission: Warming Center Program develops and operates programs that address the gaps in meeting basic needs that result from homelessness that are not provided by other funding sources (government and other organizations). Programs include our Warming Center, a coldest and wettest nights shelter to eliminate the occurrence of hypothermia and death; and the Day & Night Storage Program to reduce the items people who sleep outside must carry at all times.
Big Idea: Day & Night Storage for Homeless Persons
The problem: Homeless people carry bedding, clothing and other items 24/7, limiting their ability to move freely without a visual identifier of homelessness. This can trap individuals into a mindset difficult to emerge from. They are unable to carry the number of items they need, especially in winter, and possessions are usually the only value they hold. Belongings left unattended can be stolen or confiscated by city workers. They also create visual blight and can be an environmental hazard.
Our solution: A safe, organized, cost-efficient program to reduce the belongings people who sleep outside must carry.
Our new program provides 20-60 gallons of space in a managed, locked facility near a nexus of homeless foot traffic. People will sign a Client Agreement that states there are no perishables; no wet or damp items; no illegal items; items must belong to the client, etc.
The facility opens twice-daily: 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. Please help us sustain and expand this program!
Organization Mission: We are dedicated to the protection, restoration and appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley, and to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders. The wetlands sustain more than 250 species of birds and 23 species of native plants and animals that are threatened or endangered.
Big Idea: Wetland Wonders Fifth Grade Program
A new model for science learning and hands-on, outdoor learning for students are hallmarks of our new wetland exploration program. It’s designed to support the “5 E’s” learning cycle of Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate, and Next Generation Science Standards.
The program supports Pajaro Valley Unified School District in taking the lead on the new learning model, where teachers and environmental educators work together to increase environmental literacy with full integration into classroom curriculum. This inquiry-based program gives students not only information, but the tools to discover the wetlands for themselves.
We also offer an afterschool program, environmental careers education, a watershed conservation program, data collection and monitoring of the wetlands’ health, community restoration, trail reconstruction and maintenance, docent training, and more. Please join us in introducing more students to the wonders of the natural world!
Organization Mission: Wings Homeless Advocacy is committed to living our values of compassion, dignity and respect for all people by uniting our community to be volunteer advocates for those moving out of homelessness onto a path of healing, and working together to end chronic homelessness in Santa Cruz County.
Big Idea: Beds and Baskets
Wings’ 47 volunteers (and one part-time paid staff person) would like to expand the capacity for our partner agencies to help those experiencing homelessness complete tasks and obtain resources needed to become housed and self-sufficient. In addition to providing rides to medical and court appointments, we will help more people move into housing, and donate new refurbished beds ($100 value) and Welcome Home baskets ($50 value) full of personal care and household essentials, and a needed gift of hope.
The number of beds donated is up 58 percent this year and we’d like to continue that trend with your support! We partner with more than 50 case managers, and our other work includes assistance with identification cards through the DMV, and help with housing paperwork.
Organization Mission: Yoga For All Movement is on a mission to make yoga accessible to all in Santa Cruz County. We define accessible as equity. To us, equitable yoga is physically safe, trauma-informed, culturally competent and affordable, as well as available for all regardless of race, socioeconomic status, age, gender, size or legal status.
We are teaching yoga to individuals in incarceration, youth in alternative education school settings, survivors of domestic violence, and adults experiencing homelessness, to name a few.
Big Idea: Mindfulness Initiative in Alternative Education
We are a volunteer yoga collective that teaches yoga countywide, and is collaborating with the County Office of Education to create a mindfulness initiative that will include at least five alternative education schools to receive the gift of yoga and mindfulness classes for students.
After strong results with Sequoia School this past year, we want to expand services to include more youth in alternative education as a means for increasing emotional regulation, empowerment and self reliance, and to give tools to youth to increase coping skills when so much else feels beyond their control.
Organization Mission: Youth N.O.W. is committed to engaging youth in a nurturing community where youth grow personally and academically through individualized programs that cultivate success. Youth N.O.W.’s after-school student centers (separate sites for middle and high schoolers) provide a safe place with caring adult mentors, and social and emotional support throughout the school year and summer. Each site has both a learning center and a recreational-social space. Tutoring, homework help, school project resources, computer labs, and independent study are offered. We also offer workshops for high schoolers, family nights, enrichment classes, evening social events, and opportunities for youth to complete community service hours, and more.
Big Idea: Middle School Summer Program
Enrollment for Youth N.O.W.’s all-day, five-week summer program for middle school youth in the Watsonville area has increased tremendously and is our most successful yet—51 percent growth for summer of 2018.
We focus on serving youth who would otherwise be unable to afford summer activities. Our low-cost program ran just $30 per week last summer. We ask your support to offer full and partial scholarships for children whose families cannot afford the low-cost program. Our programs help to even the playing field for disadvantaged youth, and improve their future outcomes.
Funds are also needed for anticipated increases in costs for field trips and transportation for summer, 2019.