Fund for Santa Barbara Celebrates at Bread & Roses

Event Celebrates Progressive Victories and Honors Marc Chytilo, Nancy Weiss, and Juliana Neel

Board President Rev. Julia Hamilton and Executive Director Marcos Vargas | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 24, The Fund for Santa Barbara was back to a live version of its annual Bread & Roses on the sunny, spacious fields of Elings Park. The 375 guests, including an impressive showing of politicians at every level, enjoyed mingling, food and libations, and music by DJ Suz before the program and by Spencer the Gardener afterward. 

The pleasure of gathering once again combined with passion for The Fund’s work made for joyous energy throughout the afternoon. The event netted $165,000 for The Fund’s work advancing progressive change.

Co-emcees Reverend David Moore and Gloria Soto welcomed guests and discussed the importance of The Fund’s work. Marc Chytilo and Nancy Weiss were presented with the Nancy Alexander Founder’s Award for their tremendous contributions to the community. Chytilo has represented dozens of community groups in hundreds of environmental and social justice cases. Weiss has led various initiatives and served as staff member at The Fund and the S.B. Rape Crisis Center (now STESA). Together, they have worked on the Foothill Forever Campaign and other initiatives. 

Santa Maria native and current UC Berkeley student Juliana Neel was presented with the Firebrand Award for her extensive community involvement.

Executive Director Marcos Vargas called for celebrating The Fund’s recent victories: the massive voter turnout in the 2020 elections, the defeat of the California recall, and the growth of the racial justice movements.

He shared how The Fund, in collaboration with others, has moved forward rent stabilization in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, just-cause eviction in Santa Barbara, and the establishment of food-access programs and policies in Isla Vista, Santa Maria, and Cuyama. 

Marcos explained how The Fund is always guided by its mission of advancing progressive change by strengthening movements for economic, environmental, political, racial, and social justice. The Fund, he explained, does this through grant making, capacity building, supporting coalitions, influencing philanthropy, and leadership development.

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Grant making decisions are made not by staff or the board of directors, but by the Grant Making Committee, comprising community activists who each bring a different perspective. In a separate teen-led program, Youth Making Change, a North County and South County board of teens makes grant decisions on youth-led projects, with each board awarding $15,000 annually.

Vargas shared that in collaboration with USC and UCSB, The Fund is conducting a first-ever Regional Equity Study. The study centers on ways the pandemic has both revealed and deepened structural inequities. This December, the collaborative will issue its first report.

As for supporting coalitions, Vargas pointed to The Fund’s convening of the Central Coast Immigration Network and helping to establish and support the Central Coast Climate Justice Network.

To influence philanthropy, Marcos explained that The Fund engages with funders at the local, state, and federal levels. The Fund helped create the Immigrant Legal Defense Fund to defend undocumented workers facing deportation under the Trump administration. 

For leadership development, working with other nonprofits, The Fund is building a pipeline of people of color leaders for elected and appointed officials and nonprofit boards. And each year, the Youth Making Change program fosters leadership among teens — those on the committee and those running the grantee organizations.

Geoff Green, former Fund for Santa Barbara executive director, led the auction and ask with both humor and conviction for the cause. Next up was Spencer the Gardener, with guests flocking to the dance floor.

Last year, the fund distributed 56 grants totaling more than $350,000 and, despite the pandemic, was able to continue much of its work through virtual means.

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Honorees Nancy Weiss and Marc Chytilo | Credit: Gail Arnold
Board VP David Landecker and Development and Communications Mgr. Alina Rey Keswani | Credit: Gail Arnold
Associate Director Patricia Solorio and Grant Making Committee Co-Chair Rachel Johnson | Credit: Gail Arnold
Boardmembers Diane Fujino, David Pellow, and Susan Wax | Credit: Gail Arnold
Honoree Juliana Neel | Credit: Gail Arnold


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