The Fund for Santa Barbara’s virtual Bread and Roses fundraiser on October 10 was as inspiring, entertaining, and informative as ever, with Co-Chairs Gary Clark and Wendy Sims-Moten setting a lively tone. A multitude of speakers shared their passion for the Fund, a nonprofit that supports social, political, economic, and environmental justice movements. Ticket holders and sponsors numbered 425, many more watched live for free, and hundreds more have watched the video. More than $150,000 was raised.
The event began with Clark and Sims-Moten comically scouring in vain for the event at the scenic QAD grounds, the site of the annual event for years, and then Clark declared, “Live from Bread and Roses, it’s Saturday Night,” and the virtual attendees knew they were in for a treat. Clark, who spent 12 years on staff, and Sims-Moten, who spent six years on the Grant Making Committee, shared how the pandemic has not stopped the Fund from carrying out its work and emphasized how, in fact, the Fund’s work is particularly important at this time.
In a fast-paced video, supporters shared why the Fund is so effective. Executive Director Marcos Vargas emphasized how grant-making decisions are made by a committee of community activists. Former executive director (and current CEO of SBCC Foundation) Geoff Green explained how the Fund is based on the idea that people know their own challenges best, and therefore the solutions need to come from the people who are experiencing the particular issues. CAUSE Policy and Communications Director Lucas Zucker shared his appreciation for the Fund’s role not only in direct grant making, but also in influencing how local foundations think about social justice and about root causes.
Grant Making Committee Liaison to the Board Maria Garcia-Cacique explained how the grant making is a “from, by, and for the community process that authentically centers on the people most impacted in the fight for social justice,” and that grant making is but one component. The Fund also provides capacity building workshops, one-to-one consulting, and a valuable resource network.
Youth Making Change (YMC) Facilitators explained how YMC is a teen-led grant-making program, where a teen board in North County and another in South County each conduct an entire grant cycle and each award $15,000 every year. They presented the inaugural Firebrand Awards, which acknowledge youth involved in social change movements, to Talia Hamilton and Shakir Ahmad, a senior and junior respectively at San Marcos High School, for their work in organizing the Black Lives Matter youth-led protest in June, where thousands turned out.
Along with Executive Director Marcos Vargas, longtime supporter Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson led the ask, which through online chat quickly raised $60,000 in pledges and generated a warm enthusiasm among supporters, who expressed gratitude for one another’s generosity. Senator Jackson lauded the Fund for the critically important work it does and noted how in current times, getting progressive values out there and assuring that the world will be a better place is a greater challenge than ever before.
Jane Fonda expressed appreciation to the Fund, whose work, she noted, has never been more necessary than now. She presented the Nancy Alexander Founders Award to the late Mickey Flacks, emphasizing Flacks’s tireless efforts in support of affordable housing, her work in founding the Citizen’s Coalition and SBCAN, and many other accomplishments. Fonda described Flacks as a fantastic, strong, smart activist from whom she learned so much. Affectionately, Fonda shared that any community that has a Mickey Flacks is a good place to live. Mickey’s husband, Dick Flacks, accepted the award. Fonda also announced that in honor of Mickey, the Fund has established a Social Housing Fund to support housing justice efforts in the region.
Fonda reflected on how when she was younger, she thought social change was a sprint, then learned it is a marathon, and later realized it is a relay. Accordingly, she pointed to the importance of passing the torch to the next generation of leaders, which the Fund is helping to cultivate.
United Farm Workers Cofounder Dolores Huerta commended the Fund for supporting organizations that empower people to protect communities. She remarked on how the Fund is desperately needed now and concluded with an inspiring ¡Si se puede!
Vargas remarked on how the Fund was made for this moment — when we are facing multiple crises deeply rooted in longstanding forms of systemic oppression. The Fund, he related, has always been dedicated to the ongoing struggle for justice, equity, and the protection of the environment.
Perla Battalia performed a moving rendition of “We Shall Overcome” and then “Gracia a la Vida,” to which Clark and Sims-Moten walked gracefully toward the ocean, concluding a brilliantly produced event.
In 2019, the Fund made nearly $350,000 in grants. This year, it anticipates making about $300,000 in grants and has continued other programs virtually.
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