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Santa Barbara, CA – Based on multiple factors, including insufficient funding, structural deficits and changes in the external environment, Just Communities Central Coast (JCCC)’s Staff and Board of Directors have decided, with a very heavy heart, to close the organization effective August 31, 2022. At this time, we are not able to provide new services in order to focus on honoring our existing partnerships, negotiating potential transfer of specific programs such as Language Justice and Access which includes our Interpretation and Translation services. Most importantly, we are committed to supporting our amazing staff through acknowledgement, healing, redress and closure. Regardless of the step in our sunsetting process, JCCC will continue to operate with the same integrity, passion, and commitment as we brought to serving the people of California’s Central Coast with programs and services designed to strengthen the local community through celebrating our humanity and advancing social justice.
More than twenty years ago, JCCC emerged as one of the leading social justice organizations in our Tri-County region and we are exceedingly proud of our impact on the community, especially in the areas of education justice and language justice. In collaboration with youth, families, educators and many other local organizations, JCCC worked tirelessly to help close the achievement and opportunity gaps and inequalities throughout the areas we served, particularly in the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SB Unified). Thousands of students, teachers, staff, and administration officials benefited from JCCC-led educational experiences on implicit bias, racism, sexism, heterosexism, class privilege, and other forms of oppression and injustice. JCCC’s youth programming has left a lasting impact on a generation of Central Coast students who have gone on to become current and future leaders for inclusive and equitable change in our community
JCCC also consistently showed up and supported other community-centric, liberating organizations that were facing significant opposition and could not openly advocate for fear of being attacked. We too fought back external forces from far-right, white supremacist groups that made many unfounded allegations against JCCC, including one that brought a frivolous and failed lawsuit to challenge our work with SB Unified. But it was another outside threat that took the most damaging toll on JCCC – the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus outbreak brought immense loss, anxiety and uncertainty to our community, particularly to the most systematically marginalized members of our community. JCCC pivoted away from in-person to virtual programming in order to continue serving our mission. This significant adaptation produced debilitating limitations to JCCC’s core strengths: workshops, consciousness raising, building relationships, and professional development. Despite many efforts made by staff and the board of directors, we could not establish the sustainable structural footing needed to continue to deliver on our vision of co-creating an equitable and inclusive Central Coast where all people are connected, respected, and valued.
It is important for JCCC to humbly recognize that we were far from perfect in our fight for advancing the common good. For example, one of our critical missed opportunities was not taking all of the sustained and sufficient actions necessary to fully address anti-Blackness. We hope other collective liberation activists are able to be more intentional and proactive about building trust with each other and the diverse mix of organizations and individuals working to ensure opportunity for all in our community. Yet despite our mistakes and missed opportunities, JCCC remained committed to a world free of white supremacy, xenophobia, and racism. We have
done liberating work that has mattered to Black, Indigenous, other People of Color, and white people; it is work that has, and will continue to, make a difference in our community.
Outside any and all challenges, the heart and soul of JCCC has always been it’s incredibly dedicated and talented staff who led countless youth programs, educator institutes, family engagement programs, as well as highly innovative and unparalleled language justice programs that have had a critical impact in the lives of working-class, immigrant Latinx households across the Central Coast. JCCC staff, who often directly experienced the impacts of systemic racism themselves, poured everything they had into the programs because of their shared desire to stop injustice, violence, and oppression.
The JCCC staff’s positive, long-lasting impact on the countless people across the Central Coast could not have been possible without the enormous amount of support and dedication from donors, volunteers, program participants, community members and organizations, including previous staff and board members. The JCCC staff and board want to express our sincere gratitude for all who donated their time, talent, and resources to our mission over the years. We thank and honor all who have believed in and supported our work.
We cannot stress enough how incredibly sad we are to sunset our organization. In these times, with our hearts heavy from shootings in Buffalo, Orange County, and Uvalde, one may reasonably wonder, when will things get better? When will this physical and structural violence end? When will our communities finally be just? These questions are without easy answers, but when we take a long historical view, from out of the ashes, we see new life has always emerged. The Central Coast is replete with multiple generations of people who care, who love those on the margins, who will continue JCCC’s legacy to fight back and never give up on the struggle for a world full of joy, compassion, and liberation. Therefore, without a doubt, the work will carry on through others including the ongoing commitment to justice from our individual staff and board members as we move to the post-JCCC chapter of our lives. So as we take steps to officially sunset as an organization, we want to always move forward from a position of hope. With that in mind, we close this announcement with the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his speech immediately after the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. “I know some of you are asking, How long will it take (before injustice is eradicated)? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”