Tom Parker (seated next to Michael Redmon), president of the Hutton Parker Foundation. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

As of Monday, March 23, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, a recently established collaborative of area nonprofits, has pledged up to $2 million to assist the community as the spread of the virus has brought economic activity to a halt and thrown those already living paycheck to paycheck to the brink of disaster. The initiative started with 11 organizations but has since grown to 18, and donations have flooded in as the community rallies together to offer resources. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the community but we have to be clear: The need we’re facing is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” said Jackie Carrera, interim CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. 

The fundraising figure is double what it was last week, when the original 11 philanthropic organizations, led by the Santa Barbara Foundation, United Way of Santa Barbara County, and the Hutton Parker Foundation, pledged $1 million to direct toward individual assistance, public health resources, and assistance for organizations helping the vulnerable. Since then, there has been an outpouring of offers for financial contributions, information, and collaboration on a plethora of issues facing the community. “It’s been really great seeing the community rally around this,” said Steve Ortiz, CEO of United Way. “The need we’re seeing is truly stunning. As of yesterday, we had already surpassed the number of intake forms we received during the entirety of the Thomas Fire, and I’m sure it’s increased since.” Ortiz said that the Joint Effort has received at least 600 intake forms for assistance. 

The Joint Effort has been monitoring the intake forms to gain information about the most common issues facing families. So far, they have identified several: loss of wages, concern over childcare and education payments, and childcare for essential workers. They’ve decided to focus their efforts on three areas: individual assistance, direct nonprofit support, and business continuity and capacity. “People who were already vulnerable are being hit really hard by this,” said Ortiz. “We are approaching this as being in it for the long haul, and we need the community’s help. If things continue as they have in the first week, we’re going to be overwhelmed.”

The Joint Effort has also been coordinating with Cottage Health and County Public Health to provide medical supplies for health facilities. 

Donations can be made at or Individuals can seek resources through the United Way at 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.

The list of organizations participating in the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort is as follows:

The Ann Jackson Family Foundation
Audacious Foundation
BP Moser Trust
Brittingham Family Foundation
Fund for Santa Barbara
The Henry E. & Lola Monroe Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
James S. Bower Foundation
Jane and Paul Orfalea
Mosher Foundation
The Natalie Orfalea Foundation
The Muzzy Family
Santa Barbara Foundation
Santa Ynez Foundation
The Towbes Foundation
United Way of Santa Barbara County
Wood-Claeyssens Foundation


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