.Community Bridges Worried About Funding Reductions

The nonprofit provides dozens of services for children, adults and seniors throughout Santa Cruz County

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will consider allocating some $5.8 million to dozens of social services and programs countywide over the next three years.

This includes just over $770,000 for United Way’s Cradle to Career, $436,221 for Meals on Wheels and $241,680 for Second Harvest Food Bank’s Equitable Access to Food and Nutrition program.

But due to the county’s competitive funding process—the Collective of Results and Evidence-based (CORE) Investments—Community Bridges could see an $816,000 reduction in the amount the organization receives typically.

Community Bridges provides dozens of services for children, adults and seniors throughout Santa Cruz County.

This amount has terrified the organization’s service providers as they gauge the impacts it could have. The organization asked anyone concerned to attend the board meeting on Tuesday at 9am to address the supervisors. 

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Cancino says the organization typically requests–and is granted–between $1 million and $1.4 million annually.  

With only $436,221 on the table for a three-year budget cycle, Community Bridges could see a partial closure and reduction in services at all four family resource centers—La Manzana, Nueva Vista, Live Oak and Mountain Community Resources. These serve more than 6,000 families countywide, providing tutoring, lunch programs, CalFresh and MediCal.

There could also be a reduction in services at Elderday, which requested $150,000 and received none.

Because the funding comes in three-year cycles, Community Bridges will have to backfill roughly $2.5 million through 2025, Cancino says.

He adds that the proposed reductions fall hardest in the Watsonville area.

“In this staff proposal, not only can we see directly that the disproportionate burden of the loss of these services has been on low-income South County people of color, but the realignment is heavily laid on the backs of the fastest-growing population, our older adults,” he said. 

Community Bridges in 2020 reported More than $17.5 million in revenue and just over $16 million in expenses.

County spokesman Jason Hoppin says that the proposed CORE funding represents an 11% increase from the previous three-year funding cycle, equal to a $545,000 expansion of services.

Hoppin says that, in sending out a request for proposals countywide, the county received 128 applications totaling nearly $16 million in proposals, almost three times the size of the available funds. A total of 36 awards were recommended. 

Before the CORE program, the county approved funding for the same local nonprofit organizations for 35 years without a competitive process, Hoppin says. 

The new system, he says, ensures a fair and competitive opportunity for all organizations and a standardized selection process.

The recommendations came after five stakeholder meetings and seven public hearings. 

The 58-member panel reviewed the applications included community members, subject matter experts, researchers, and city, county and nonprofit staff. The proposals are reviewed and are subject to approval by the County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council.

Also funded under the new proposal is the expansion of the Safe Spaces parking program, expanded learning opportunities for young people, a farming education program and therapy services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

The Supervisors will finalize the contracts on June 28. The changes will take effect within 30 days after they are approved.

The Santa Cruz County Supervisors will meet Tuesday at 9am at 701 Ocean St., Room 525, Santa Cruz. Participants can also attend via Zoom. bit.ly/3NYq8I4.

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