One of Santa Barbara’s most powerful displays of philanthropy occurred for the 12th year in a row on Monday at the Coral Casino, where representatives from 184 organizations were treated to lunch and donations by the Montecito Bank & Trust’s “Community Dividends” program. After speeches by bank president Janet Garufis and founder Michael Towbes, who came up with the idea of giving out $1 million to the community groups each year, awards of various amounts were doled out to both established powerhouses like Direct Relief and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival as well as emerging nonprofit players like Kids Helping Kids and Just Communities Central Coast. All told, awards went to 184 organizations, the biggest group ever. Towbes said he was proud of growing his bank to be more than $1 billion in value, along the way giving back $12 million to those who make life better for others in the Santa Barbara region.


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