Associate Director Patricia Solorio and Grant Making Committee Co-Chair Rachel Johnson | Credit: Gail Arnold (file)

A new racial equity grant-making program received $267,000 from the County of Santa Barbara during the year’s budget hearings for an investment in work to “reverse the legacy of slavery and effects of racism.” On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors appointed the Fund for Santa Barbara to administer the program.

Full credit for the grant program goes to the Black women who had made the ask of the supervisors in the first place, said Patricia Solorio, who oversees grants for the Fund. “In the work we were doing to develop the criteria in the application, we wanted to honor the community ask,” she said. “We’re grateful that we can offer this. What we are looking for are upstream solutions to systemic issues.”

The Fund has similar grants already underway, and Solorio said they hoped to invest in activities that would change institutional systems, education that created awareness, advocacy policy work, or other programs the community proposed.

Of the need for systemic change, Solorio gave as an example the number of Black and Latinx people in the jails. “Of course it’s not that they’re all ‘criminals,'” she said; many are jailed and still awaiting trial. “You have to dig deeper and understand that they are targeted more by the police — and are suspended from school at higher rates — they don’t have the resources for bail or a defense, and the consequences are much higher,” Solorio said. “Those are the consequences of systemic racism in our country.”

The people on the ground already well-versed in this work were ready to take it up, she said, adding that up to $100,000 is available for an individual grant for up to three years. The application process runs through February 11, and a Zoom meeting on how to apply takes place January 18. For more information, visit the Fund for Santa Barbara.

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