Philanthropists Give $1 Million to Combat Viral Economic Losses

New Response Effort Pledges to Help People and Groups in Santa Barbara County

A normally bustling mid-morning State Street is virtually empty after California’s shelter-in-place edict. To combat the inevitable economic effect, Santa Barbara philanthropists have given $1 million to a new response effort. | Credit: Robert Miller

Philanthropic organizations have pledged more than $1 million to help Santa Barbara County individuals and organizations in the face of the coronavirus epidemic and statewide shutdown. The newly formed group, called the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, stated in a press release on March 19 its intent to “distribute financial resources on a rolling basis for our most vulnerable populations … to rapidly meet the needs of our community as they arise.” 

Individuals are a priority for funding by the group, which foresees a need to cover childcare and education expenses and lost wages. Support will also go to service organizations that help the county’s more vulnerable population who are affected by workplace and school closures. The third priority is other organizations essential to the county that may have difficulty meeting their staff’s or clients’ needs.

The Santa Barbara Foundation, United Way of Santa Barbara County, and the Hutton Parker Foundation are leading the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, what they call a “countywide funders collaborative” with 11 other Foundation Roundtable members, to streamline coordination through the sharing and collection of information. Measures to counter the spread of the virus has already affected those who cannot work from home, such as the hundreds of restaurant and bar employees laid off in the City of Santa Barbara alone. With so many Santa Barbara residents living paycheck to paycheck due to sky-high rent prices, the uncertainty created by the pandemic can only have seismic economic impacts.

Individuals can seek resources through the United Way at unitedwaysb.org/covid19. Nonprofits can submit applications via the COVID-19 Nonprofit Grant Intake portal at the Santa Barbara Foundation website; individual funders may have an application process as well.

In addition to the three coordinating groups, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort includes the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Audacious Foundation, Fund for Santa Barbara, Henry E. & Lola Monroe Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation, Jane and Paul Orfalea, Mosher Foundation, Muzzy Family, Towbes Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, and Natalie Orfalea Foundation. Donations can be made at unitedwaysb.org/covid19 or SBFoundation.org/covid-19responseeffort.

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