Executive Director Marcos Vargas and Associate Director Patricia Solorio | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 23, supporters of The Fund for Santa Barbara gathered at Elings Park for the annual Bread & Roses celebration and fundraiser. As always, a happy spirit permeated the event, which celebrated and raised $115,000 for the Fund’s work advancing progressive change.

The 575 guests included many leaders of nonprofit organizations, from large, established ones to budding, small, grassroots ones. A large number of elected officials were also present. During the reception, guests enjoyed food and beverage offerings from multiple purveyors and music by DJ Suz. Guests were then seated at tables for the mid-afternoon program, where they were welcomed by co-emcees Wendy Sims-Moten and Chelsea Lancaster.  

In presenting the Firebrand Award, Lancaster noted the importance of supporting and investing in emerging leaders. San Marcos High School junior Kavya Suresh received the award for her work with Ethnic Studies NOW!, Youth Making Change, Cops Off Campus, S.B. Youth Council, and more. 

Sims-Moten presented the Founder’s Award to Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, president of Santa Maria–Lompoc NAACP, Death Penalty Focus boardmember, SBCAN boardmember, and former longtime Fund for S.B. Grantmaking Committee member. Lyons-Pruitt was also a Chief Investigator for S.B. County’s Public Defender’s Office.

Executive Director Marcos Vargas shared some of the Fund’s accomplishments from the past year. These included workshops on racial justice movements and more than a dozen other trainings, gatherings, and direct consulting to build the capacity of nonprofit community groups.

The Fund partnered with UCSB and labor unions to try to establish the region’s first Community Labor Center at UCSB, which is now awaiting approval of state funding, as well as with the Board of Supervisors and others to fund anti-racist efforts, primarily led by Black community leaders. 

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Vargas related how the Central Coast Regional Equity Study, which the Fund, UCSB, and USC launched last December, has evolved into an ongoing regional initiative, with participation from multiple sectors in the Tri-County region. The initiative uses the power of data in efforts to create a more equitable region. 

Vargas conveyed how the recent revelation of racist sentiments expressed by Latinx members of the L.A. City Council is requiring everyone to reexamine how pervasive anti-Blackness, Indigenous racism, and other forms of bigotry are in the Latinx community, as well as throughout our society. According to Vargas, “more than ever, we need to all do the hard work of anti-racism, including calling out racist and bigoted language when used either in private or public, speaking out against policies that work to perpetuate racial injustice, and actively supporting anti-racist efforts and equity-centered public policies, including ethnic studies in our schools.”

In concluding, Vargas declared that we must see “ourselves as part of a larger progressive movement for racial justice, as well as for women’s reproductive rights, for climate justice, for economic justice for all, for peace, and for an end to all forms of hate and bigotry.” 

Geoff Green then led a live auction and paddle raise, followed by a performance by the popular Latin jazz band Mezcal Martini.

In addition to the valuable non-monetary support the Fund provides to nonprofits each year, the Fund makes grants to a large number of nonprofits. Grant-making decisions are made by a committee comprising community activists who each bring his or her own perspective. This year, $541,000 in grant funds were spread over 37 organizations.

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. This year, $27,000 in grant funding was spread over 10 organizations.

For more info, go to fundforsantabarbara.org.

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Honorees Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt and Kavya Suresh | Credit: Gail Arnold
Boardmembers Diane Fujino, Cuco Rodriguez, and Mahil Senathirajah | Credit: Gail Arnold
Co-host and Boardmember Chelsea Lancaster with Co-host Wendy Sims-Moten | Credit: Gail Arnold


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