The Fund for Santa Barbara would like to clarify some misleading statements that were made at the County Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday, June 15, in regard to the disbursement of funds designated to support local equity efforts.
Last year, in response to grassroots organizing by Black leaders and overwhelming community support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the county committed $500,000 for racial equity work. The county has already spent some of these funds, but today $270,800 is still waiting to be disbursed.
Wondering what to do with this unspent money, the County approached the Fund for Santa Barbara about a possible collaboration in which we would act as the re-granting agent for the remainder. On May18, the County Board of Supervisors approved for county staff to begin the process of entering into a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Fund for S.B.
At this point, we have just begun discussions about what this agreement would entail. Furthermore, at this time, no grantmaking process has been finalized, and we have yet to sign any formal agreements. It felt presumptive to ask the leaders of Healing Justice, who have already done so much work on this issue, to apply to the Fund for S.B. without yet having a process in place to do so.
The Black community in Santa Barbara has been disenfranchised for generations, and reparations for this harm are an important part of any conversation about equity. From exclusionary housing laws, unequal employment opportunities, and the erasure of Black contributions to our civic life, we believe our community still has a long way to go on this healing journey. These funds are just one potential step towards addressing this inequity, both historic and ongoing. It is important that we all stay at the table together.
Julia Hamilton is president of the Fund for Santa Barbara Board of Directors.