.Santa Cruz Gives 2022 Kicks Off

Meet the annual holiday campaign’s 63 local nonprofits and learn about their projects

The 418 Project

A New Home for Art and Artists: As Santa Cruz becomes the second most expensive place to live in the U.S., the 418 Project is keeping our town accessible and affordable for the many working artists who make their home here. With incredible faith from our supporters, we were able to purchase a building downtown. Now we are able to provide affordable teaching, work and performance spaces to literally thousands of artists from underserved groups. Your gift keeps artists in town and keeps Santa Cruz vibrant. 

Alzheimer’s Association

Know Where Alzheimer’s Hides: More than 5,300 people in Santa Cruz County live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and another 10,000 loved ones and caregivers are impacted. Alzheimer’s disease often hides in plain sight. Help us educate our community on the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementia, and raise awareness of the importance of early detection and diagnosis in Santa Cruz County. All services are free and offered in English and Spanish by phone, virtually and in-person, including care consultations to help families anticipate and plan; support groups to connect with others who understand the journey; and education on topics such as how to have dementia conversations, self-care for caregivers and healthy living for brain and body.

Balance SCC

2023 Teacher Grants: Our Teacher Grant Fund grants more than $25,000 in supplies annually directly to local teachers and service providers for items they need but cannot afford. Typical items are Chromebooks, iPads, therapeutic chairs and swings, etc. We typically gift to approximately 60 local teachers/specialists who each work with 30-200+ students with unique needs each year. We raise the funds from the community to support this effort. We have also given free training to more than 100 local educators for school staff to help children learn constructive ways to handle crisis.

Barrios Unidos

Audio and Video Engineering: We are excited about teaching kids to edit videos and to record their own music because we can give the youth skills that can grow into a future career as a video director, musician, music engineer and more, as well as explore their creativity. We need to upgrade our music studio (audio and video recording equipment, and instruments). We also need updated computers, mixing boards and cameras. We have one part-time staff person but would ideally like to have two for this program. In the longer term, we would like to expand and offer this education to our local community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County

After-School Enrichment Program ‘Together We Grow’: BBBS strives to broaden our impact through a partnership with a low-income housing community in Watsonville to provide mentorship and substantive after-school enrichment to more than 200 youth. A professional program coordinator, with trained volunteers, will execute a thoughtfully prepared science- and art-based curriculum designed specifically for multi-age youth. We will assist with development of study skills while providing engaging activities with a foundation in science, nature and the arts. We began serving in one housing location in October. Our service is constrained by currently available funds. With additional financial support, we can serve more children (by adding two more housing locations), with greater frequency and improved outcomes.

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Birchbark Foundation

Love Heals: When a pet has a health crisis with a good prognosis, the unique love of a family animal must never be lost simply due to cost. BirchBark will provide stability to vulnerable families faced with fixable but unaffordable urgent veterinary care. Our goal is to provide healing love and save the lives of 100 pets with Santa Cruz Gives donor funds. Hundreds of people will benefit, because most households have one to six people. In addition, we help our veterinary partners, who often must euthanize pets and are extremely affected emotionally when clients do not have financial resources to save their animals’ lives.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Cruz County

Power Hour and SMART Moves Programs: Our clubhouse-wide “Power Hour” program complements and reinforces what youth learn at school via daily 60-minute sessions in which every member at the club receives homework help, tutoring or participates in self-directed learning. We support social-emotional learning and help youth strengthen healthy decision-making, boost self-esteem, avoid risky behaviors, develop assertiveness, analyze media and peer influence and build resilience. With your support, we can develop these programs, keep school year membership fees to $75/year and never turn away any child for inability to pay thanks to our donor-supported scholarship fund. All club services are available to all youth, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, family situation or mental or physical ability.

CASA of Santa Cruz County

Serving Youth Involved in Justice: CASA of Santa Cruz County is expanding advocacy from youth in foster care (the Dependency Court system) to include youth in the Juvenile Justice system. CASA recruits, screens, trains and supervises volunteer Advocates. After extensive training, a background check and swearing in by the court, Advocates get to know their child’s situation and needs, help caregivers access resources and advocate for the child’s best interests. For older youth, an Advocate acts as a mentor and guide, assisting with life skills, and for justice-involved youth, this includes completing the terms of their probation. Youth with an Advocate are less likely to return to the system, are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and are more likely to become healthy adults who break the cycle of abuse.

Center for Farmworker Families

Comida, Cobijas, y Cariño (Food, Blankets, and Care): From December to April, when the berry harvest has been completed, few farmworkers work full-time hours As a result, their income and ability to purchase basic needs such as food are compromised. Already-low wages make it difficult for most families to save for the off-season. With your support, “Comida, Cobijas, y Cariño” (“Food, Blankets, and Care”) will be a new program that invites 20-30 members of our farmworker family constituents to participate in a monthly small-scale distribution meeting where they will not only receive food, but home goods such as blankets and bedding, cookware and personal health items such as toiletries.

Coastal Watershed Council

A Thriving Urban Riverwalk In Your Community: The San Lorenzo River is the primary source of drinking water for 100,000 residents and critical habitat for endangered species, and its adjacent Santa Cruz Riverwalk park provides opportunities to connect with nature in the heart of Santa Cruz’s downtown business district and diverse riverside neighborhoods. That’s why a community-driven and nature-based approach is fundamental to achieving our vision of a thriving urban riverfront where all Santa Cruzans can connect to nature in their daily lives. CWC supports residents who live along the river to regularly visit it, care for it and advocate for its protection, balancing ecology with a growing downtown. CWC engages and empowers youth to learn about the river and to share their new knowledge with others during in- and out-of-school programming.

Community Bridges

Let’s Learn English Together!: In Santa Cruz County, 56% of residents age 5 and older do not speak English very well or at all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This funding will teach non-English speaking parents during the day to speak English, and help pay for childcare for young children while their older children are in school. This will allow them to guide their children with schoolwork. In Santa Cruz County, the poverty rate among those who worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3%. Among those working part-time, it was 16% and for those who did not work, it was 19%. Community Bridges recognizes the importance of education in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty.

Community Music School

Beginning Music Lessons for Underserved Students: Although arts education is part of California’s Core Curriculum, many elementary school students in our county have little to no music instruction. We want to partner with other educational and nonprofit organizations to offer beginning music lessons as an after-school program. This will help balance the distribution of musical wealth, opportunities and privileges within our larger community. Students in this program will not only have weekly music instruction, but will get to keep their chosen instrument (either a melodica or a baritone ukulele) at the completion of the school year. For many participants, the benefits range from educational to inspirational or just plain fun. For others, these programs are life-changing; a number of our teens have gone on to careers as professional musicians and/or instructors.

County Park Friends

Parks = Health + Equity: Imagine a community where everyone in Santa Cruz County can access the amazing natural resources that make our home so special. Time in nature is shown to improve mental and physical health—and you can help us knock down barriers to access such as fees, language, transportation and accessibility. We make sure our public spaces and programs (such as swim lessons, wheelchair basketball and docent-led family exploration hikes) are truly welcoming so every kid can experience the wonder, health, wellness and joy available in our parks, beaches and trails. We ask you to invest in our free programming designed for health and wellness to ensure our community can thrive.

Dientes Community Dental Care

Healthy Smiles for All: All too often in our community and beyond, wealth = health. Dientes is committed to providing access to vital dental care for patients living in poverty so that everyone can have a healthy smile. We work to ensure that cost, insurance, income, race, language and transportation do not prevent people from visiting the dentist. For thousands of your neighbors in Santa Cruz County, dental care is simply out of reach—and cost is often the biggest constraint. Our “Dientes Cares” program helps make oral health care more accessible to all. For low-income, uninsured patients, we subsidize affordable sliding scale fees and offer free care to those who need it most. 

Digital NEST

Watsonville Youth Workforce Development Program: Digital NEST Watsonville is a community-driven career development center for primarily Latinx youth that provides free technology skills training, paid internships and networking opportunities with professionals. Digital NEST members have access to technology and a safe space and are given training in essential workplace skills all at no cost. Through our paid internship program, members who excel can build professional portfolios while working with real clients and growing their professional skills. We connect members to internships with partners in industry and education and provide mentoring opportunities through our annual NEST Flight conference.

Eat for the Earth

Healthy Children, Healthy Communities: In the face of life-threatening health and environmental crises, citizens of Santa Cruz County are extremely concerned about their health, the health of the community and the state of our environment. Our project educates families, children and child-serving organizations about the dietary change that promotes vibrant health, reduces risk and severity of COVID, contributes positively to the environment and tastes great! We offer presentations, food samplings and demos, nutrition education, mentorship and resources to support the adoption of healthy, sustainable plant-based diets—in both English and Spanish.

Ecology Action

Youth Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Education for All: Imagine a majority of Santa Cruz County students walking and biking to school safely, wearing helmets and knowing how to negotiate intersections—less exhaust, less greenhouse gas emission, fewer families making pick-up and drop offs, healthier, active, confident, happy kids. At Ecology Action, we work to make this a reality by delivering cutting edge school-based programs that teach life-saving bike and pedestrian safety skills to elementary students taught by nationally certified, bilingual educators: Walk Smart and Bike Smart. This program’s great success has inspired an expansion of our offerings with a focus on equity and accessibility by providing bikes directly to students who need it most.

Ecology Action

El Sistema Santa Cruz/Pajaro Valley

Watsonville Youth Symphony: For 10 years, El Sistema Santa Cruz has been reframing music education as a medium for increasing access to music countywide with a focus on South County. Thanks to partnerships with school districts foundations and community members, El Sistema has become a pre-orchestra program engaging over 1000 students after school and during summer with daily group lessons rehearsals and performances. With students graduating from their pre-orchestra program with the skills and qualifications required to perform in an orchestra, El Sistema started a youth symphony in March of 2022 that reflects the full diversity of the community. We now need your help to grow this newly formed symphony.

Encompass Community Services – Si Se Puede

Sí Se Puede Behavioral Health Center in Watsonville: Santa Cruz County is in the midst of a substance use epidemic and it will take our entire community to create real solutions. We are building a state-of-the-art Behavioral Health Center that will serve those in need countywide to deliver high-quality accessible, personalized bilingual substance use and mental health treatment to more than 1300 community members a year. Our all-in-one campus will help us meet every individual where they are in their recovery journey through connected programs with varying levels of residential and outpatient treatment—all in an atmosphere of dignity and respect where they can thrive.

Families in Transition

Restoring Credit and Opportunity: For those who experienced housing and job insecurity during the pandemic, it became much harder to maintain good credit scores. Our project will help families in our program to restore their credit in order to give them a better opportunity for housing. There are many low-income and affordable housing projects being built in our area, and in order to qualify for these units, a family will need to have good credit. Your donation will positively impact our participating families by giving them a fighting chance at renting these much needed housing opportunities.

Farm Discovery at Live Earth

Community Produce Distribution and Education Program: Farm Discovery at Live Earth seeks to maintain and enhance the organic produce distribution and education program, providing fresh, organic produce to underserved community members through three partner organizations. The program increases access to fresh fruits and vegetables, nutrition and environmental education, and relieves food and nutrition insecurity, resulting in improved community health and environmental stewardship. We donated 138,000 pounds (69 tons) of produce since March 2020, and grew, harvested and donated an additional 5,000 pounds in our education fields in 2022. An average of 25 pounds of produce feeds a family of four for one week; therefore, we feed about 50 families per week. This year, we hope to purchase an electric van to support delivery of produce to our partners and to the plates of our community most in need.

FoodWhat?!

Help Update the FoodWhat Outdoor Kitchen: For 15+ years, FoodWhat has been a safe space where youth historically excluded in our community are afforded the opportunity to redefine their health and well-being on their own terms and in lasting ways. For youth at our Watsonville farm site, this includes access to our safe outdoor kitchen space. After a decade of wear and tear, elements of the kitchen are nearing the end of their usefulness and need to be replaced. These include a 3-burner stove, cast iron pans, sink and drying rack, blender, plates, EZ UP tents, portable picnic tables, bins and Tupperware. These outdoor spaces are crucial to sustaining long-term diet change. Away from distractions, youth breathe fresh air, address their mental health by connecting to the land and cook nourishing meals for themselves, their families and their communities.

Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries

Recover and Thrive: In this year-long initiative, we will identify and support increased opportunities to learn at the Santa Cruz Public Libraries through both proven and innovative means. 2020-2022 has shown that PreK-12 students need library materials, and they need in-person experiences and hands-on learning accessible regardless of language/culture, ability to pay or access to the internet/computers. FSCPL will build on its accomplishments and partnerships to provide opportunities that will allow students to begin their school year in September 2023 as a true continuation of learning.

Girls Inc.

Smart Choices Summer Camp: Smart Choices, a summer program for 8th and 9th graders, helps participants make positive life choices about school, relationships and health during a week spent at UC Santa Cruz. For 95% of our girls, this is their first time away from home. They experience college life and get a head start in planning for high school and beyond. The program addresses issues facing these girls by focusing on pursuing higher education—setting goals, making decisions, understanding the value of an education and taking the necessary steps to achieve their goals. With your support, we hope to serve 80 participants for 5 days: sessions from 9am-9pm, room and board, meals, materials and transportation.

Grey Bears

Engage at Every Age: This year, we will reach even deeper into our community to ensure all those who need us—seniors, veterans and farmworker families—receive our healthy food and meal deliveries, ways to socially connect, and access to recycling, thrift store, medical supplies, clothing, computers, books and other basic needs. With 65,000 hours of service from 700 volunteers, we will deliver 1.7 million lbs. of food to 5,000 residents; distribute 1.2 million lbs. of groceries daily rescued from 24 markets, bakeries, orchards and gardens; serve 40,000 fresh, locally prepared meals; repurpose 1,500 tons of household items and divert 7,000 tons of recycling and organics from landfills.

Grower-Shipper Foundation

Ag Against Hunger: We provide an educational, volunteer-driven approach to gleaning excess produce left behind in the fields that might otherwise go to waste, and deliver that produce to food banks and distributors who serve those in need. Our project seeks to expand the program. Funding will help us reach 350 volunteers, provide up to 800 cartons of fresh produce, host four gleaning events in 2023 and provide reimbursement for transportation costs to food banks and distributors if needed.

Grower-Shipper Foundation

Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay

Rodeo Creek Court Project: Rodeo Creek Court is an 11-home project that is part of our core program, Single Family Home Construction, for first-time home-buyers. To qualify, households must earn 50-80% of area median income, have a need for improved housing and be willing to partner with us to provide “sweat equity.” They help build their homes alongside the Habitat team of staff and volunteers. Two homes will be for families of someone with disabilities, and ADA-compliant. One goal is to construct these homes with 70% volunteer labor. We then provide in-depth homeowner education to improve and maintain all facets of their lives. This and the affordable mortgage mean families build strength, stability and self-reliance.

Homeless Garden Project

Expanding Feed Two Birds: Growing for Santa Cruz: In the face of increasing food insecurity, HGP has expanded our traditional CSA scholarship share by 50%, now donating fresh, organic local produce to 15 non-profit organizations in town at no cost. Terrific programs like Transition Age Youth and Black Health Matters Initiative receive three shares of our CSA weekly during our growing season, May through October. The produce is grown and cared for from seed to harvest by individuals experiencing homelessness in HGP’s core transitional employment program, raising self-esteem and demonstrating how their actions can positively impact our community.

Hopes Closet

Project Spare a Pair: Expanding on the success of last year, Project Spare a Pair will be launched with this year’s Santa Cruz Gives to provide new underwear, socks and tennis shoes for children in need. Underwear, socks and shoes are the most under-donated yet most needed items of clothing for vulnerable children. No child should be deprived of the simple daily necessity of clean underwear, socks and shoes that fit—items many of us take for granted. Many children are not able to participate fully in physical education at school or have optimal orthopedic health because they cannot afford shoes with proper support.

Housing Matters

Home Sweet Home Baskets: Housing Matters has a goal to permanently house 190 households currently experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County in 2023. Everyone in our community directly benefits when fewer of our neighbors live unhoused. Our programs change lives. Last year, we launched a project to create “Home Sweet Home” baskets for families and individuals who are receiving services through a Housing Matters program as they move from homelessness into permanent housing. We successfully launched the initiative and see the impact these move-in kits have. The baskets are filled with home essentials such as cleaning supplies, linens, grocery gift cards and a special housewarming gift. We want to improve on the contents this year and with your help we can include kitchen essentials, dry goods and more.

KSQD 90.7

Expand Community Radio for Santa Cruz County: KSQD has a rare opportunity to expand its service to more Santa Cruz County residents by purchasing 89.7 FM. It will improve the signal in already covered areas, triple the potential audience to 645,000 and will add Watsonville, Aptos and beyond. Radio licenses are not for sale often, so this opportunity is rare and immediate. KSQD broadcasts community-centered news, public affairs and music programs serving local needs. The station is volunteer-driven—by, for and about local people and topics. Please help us preserve local journalism by meeting a January deadline to purchase the license and build a microwave link.

Live Like Coco

Library Fund: As we’ve connected with public school librarians, we began dreaming of a fund these literacy experts could use to encourage reading—and beautify their spaces to enhance the reading experience for kids. Librarians could pay for author visits, a new collection of graphic novels or even a new mural. This fund would also be for our public libraries, including the Children’s Memorial Reading Garden at the Aptos branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library (we pledged to donate $70,000 to it by 2024).

Live Oak Education Foundation

Improve Youth Recreation: Upgrade Shoreline Middle School Gym: We are raising funds to replace and upgrade the gym floor at Shoreline Middle School. After 25 years and thousands of kids playing on it, the floor is worn and damaged. The gym is also rented after school and during summers by local youth and adult recreational groups (basketball, volleyball and wrestling). We dream of a functional, beautiful gymnasium that will serve our community and nearly 2000 youth per year. We have raised $40,000 which brings us halfway to our goal.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Experience Monterey Bay: The Foundation seeks to provide free, immersive learning experiences in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The costs of participating in environmental education programs are often a barrier to students from low-income or marginalized communities. Expanding our bilingual staff and paid interns is an essential aspect of effectively serving this community, as well as establishing partnerships with new, diverse programs (including after-school, summer camp and family programs)—all in Santa Cruz County. By offering in-person and remote learning at no cost, we eliminate this barrier for up to 1,500 students each year to experience the sanctuary in a new, exciting and educational way. This year we will also engage with elementary schools in Watsonville by supporting in-person field trips to the Sanctuary.

Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes

Reopening our Dining Pavilion: Loaves and Fishes serves the community no-cost healthy lunches made fresh each day. This project will help reopen the dining area following the pandemic, and expand it to allow for a safer environment for lunch guests, volunteers and staff. Please join us in making healthy food accessible to our neighbors in need.

Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

Pajaro Valley Shelter Services

Sustaining Emotional Stability: We are a small passionate team dedicated to our mission of providing children and their parents with a path and guidance to stable, self-sufficient futures. We employ a three-pillar model: Emotional Stability, Financial Stability, and Housing Stability. Our focus now is to strengthen and refine the Emotional Stability pillar programming to allow families the space and time to build resiliency through classes and one-to-one counseling. We use research on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Resilience Theory to inform programming. Individuals use a self-assessment tool upon entering and exiting the program—the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS). We have already seen a 21% increase in BRS scores for participating adults, and expect more increases as the program matures.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

A Safe Haven for All: Governor Newsom declared California to be a Reproductive Freedom State, and a safe haven to all who seek abortion care. Desperate people are already travelling thousands of miles for care at our health centers. Many who cannot travel for personal or financial reasons will die from ending their own pregnancies or seeking unsafe care—just as in the days before Roe v. Wade. We have been preparing for this moment by building larger health centers near airports and major transportation hubs, training more abortion providers and expanding hours so we can be open whenever our patients need us.

Queer Youth Task Force of Santa Cruz County 

Trans Teen Visibility Project: We would like to support trans, non-binary and gender-expansive youth in Santa Cruz County this year with a website resource that educates and raises awareness among parents and the community about trans issues. We will facilitate conversations and understandings between trans teens and the wider community. Trans teens will control their own narratives and share stories and experiences that are important to them. Please help us raise funds to hire a part-time coordinator to keep the site updated and work with partners such as Santa Cruz Trans, TransFamilies and Big Brothers Big Sisters to support trans teens in Santa Cruz County, provide honorariums to trans youth for internships and pay student filmmakers for our documentary.

Regeneración — Pajaro Valley Climate Action

Creative Action for Climate Justice: A primary goal of Regeneración is to build public awareness around environmental and social justice, deepen community members’ love for the natural world and increase local climate action. Art is in our nature, and we hope to engage our community by integrating art activities into our climate action tabling events, host three or more artist-led workshops and gather people for our annual Climate of Hope forum with a theme of art and activism. As we create art, we can begin to imagine a different future.

San Lorenzo Valley Museum

Museum Your Way: For 2023, our big idea is to expand the ways that the museum’s collection can be experienced, including increased offsite in-person experiences and exhibitions in collaboration with community partners; increased online resources such as exhibitions, artifacts, photographs, and archives though platforms such as Google Arts & Culture, YouTube, and Flickr to be linked through the museum’s website; and expanded online resources for parents and teachers. Costs associated with the project include materials, platform related expenses, honoraria, and video production costs.

Santa Cruz Black

Melanated Makers: Our project is a youth leadership program that will connect Black youth in Santa Cruz County to employment opportunities, scholarships, community activism, mentorship and transferable skills. Youth who participate in this program will attend workshops, participate in a kitchen incubator, connect to vocational services programs and complete other activities in order to become future Black leaders.

Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter Foundation

Going the Extra Mile for Animals in Need: Your support will increase the number of animals and animal owners we can serve, with the goal of keeping pets in their homes and out of the shelter. We are accustomed to shattering and exceeding people’s expectations of what it means to be a public animal-welfare organization. We have long-embraced the principle that our work doesn’t start or end at the shelter’s doors; it is community-based, carried out by field officers, shelter staff volunteers, business partners and the grateful communities we serve. SCCASF goes the extra mile and provides life-saving services for the neediest animals in our community through progressive programs.

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

School Field Trip Transportation Scholarships: The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is committed to providing equitable access to our nature and science education field trips for all Santa Cruz County students. Studies show that students greatly benefit from on-site learning. Our field trips are inspiring and high-quality programs where young people learn about local natural history and science while connecting with nature. Not all schools have the transportation resources to participate. Please help ensure that our youth can benefit from this local resource.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Transportation Fund for Students: Often, schools in Santa Cruz County run into transportation difficulties when planning a school trip to enjoy a production at the Grove. To alleviate expense issues, Santa Cruz Shakespeare provides funds for buses, allowing these schools to bring students to a professionally produced Shakespeare or classic performance at an outdoor theater. Our goal is to ensure that every single high school student in Santa Cruz County has seen a live, professional production of a Shakespeare play by the time they graduate. We extend the summer season into September each year to offer student-only matinees. Please help us expand opportunities to more students.

Santa Cruz SPCA and Humane Society

A Safe Harbor for Animals in Need: The Santa Cruz SPCA doesn’t back away from challenges, and we are proud to provide safe harbor to animals that others are unable to care for. Our state-of-the-art facility on Chanticleer Avenue is an ideal environment to provide specialized care for animals with many kinds of special needs. With your support, this year we aim to see over 450 homeless animals adopted, give away over 25,000 pounds of dog and cat food to help keep pets with the families that love them, teach 4,000 local school children (elementary to high school) humane animal care practices and host 20,000 hours of soul-nourishing, animal-care volunteer hours.

Santa Cruz Welcoming Network

Welcoming New Neighbors: With perseverance, refugees and asylum-seekers—many from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Central America—made their way here. Our three-year-old Welcoming Network forms teams to work alongside these families and assist them to find housing, jobs, public schools for their children and advocate for their immigration case. We’re an all-volunteer group, so your donations go to each family’s needs. We spend about one year per family, begin with an initial needs assessment, organize a team of volunteers with experience or confidence in the areas of need and assist in finding the necessities the family has identified as critical.

Save Our Shores

Reducing Barriers to Coastal Access For Youth: Through our new Junior Sanctuary Program, Save Our Shores aims to reduce barriers to local coastal access, introduce underserved youth in the Monterey Bay to the coastal environment, connect them with shoreline/marine ecosystems and inspire them to become caretakers of this special place. For this after-school program, nature is the classroom! Tide-pooling, nature walks, litter removal, and data gathering make the experiences fun and inspiring for youth. At the end, participants are designated stewards and have opportunities to facilitate public education and outreach, serve as associate site cleanup captains and be Youth Advisory Board members for future junior stewards.

Save Our Shores

Second Harvest Food Bank

Food!: Help us help our partners! Your gift will have a ripple effect that supports nearly 100 other nonprofits. Over one-third of our county’s residents face hunger. That staggering statistic highlights how many people here are living on the edge financially. You can help us provide food for the 65,000 locals each month who depend on Second Harvest and our network to fill pantry shelves and provide hot meals. Only with adequate nutrition can children learn, adults work and the community thrive. Volunteers help power Second Harvest Food Bank, allowing us to distribute 10 million pounds of food each year. 

Senderos

Cultural Arts Pathways for Latinx Youth and Families: To meet the increased needs of the community, Senderos will expand free after-school Mexican folkloric dance and traditional music instruction for Latinx youth, most of whom are low-income. We provide musical instruments and traditional dance outfits for practice and performance. Senderos programs connect young people to their family heritage, enhance self-esteem and push for academic success leading to higher education. Most of our participants will be the first in their families to attend college, so we’d also like to increase college scholarships offered to first-generation students. We will offer resource information assistance with applications and motivation with activities such as the Latino Role Models Conference presented with Cabrillo and county school districts.

Senior Network Service

Giving to Seniors: Choosing between food or medicine, or paying the rent but never having enough to visit an unmet grandchild. Paying a veterinarian bill to keep a best friend healthy or buying glasses to replace the pair that broke. Seniors in our community face choices like these daily—heartbreaking and sometimes dangerous choices. Giving to Seniors is a direct cash grant program. We are your link to a local senior in need; in many cases, a few hundred dollars would solve a problem right away, but traditional programs aren’t structured to address a wide variety of issues quickly. Through a direct cash grant we can assist seniors with needs that fall into the gaps.

Shared Adventures

Community Networking and Engagement: There are many agencies in Santa Cruz County that provide vital services to the disabled community. A piece that is often missing is meaningful recreational activities. This year, our priority will be to connect with a wide range of agencies (including San Andreas Regional Center) to develop a network sharing activities and information, which will increase Shared Adventures participation and provide more efficiency for all agencies that produce events, and more opportunities for participants and families to engage in activities.

Soroptimist International of Capitola-by-the-Sea

Live Your Dream Beyond the Cash: Our club funds three “Live Your Dream” cash awards of $2,000 to needy local women with at least one child who enrolled in or have been accepted into a B.A. or technical training program and are the heads of their households in Santa Cruz County. Most of our recipients are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking or sexual assault. Nearly all have overcome enormous obstacles, including poverty, teen pregnancy, and drug or alcohol addiction. All of our winners pledge to give back to their communities and help women who have struggled as they have. Our club’s dream is to raise enough to go “Beyond the Cash Award” and provide support for the special needs struggling families face, such as housing, food assistance and clothing.

Sustainable Systems Research Foundation

Regenerative Agriculture for Latinx Farmers: We collaborate with the California Alliance with Family Farmers and Whiskey Hill Farms, a pioneer in regenerative agriculture. Together, we are conducting a series of workshops designed to help increase productivity, conserve soil and water and earn greater profits targeted to new and experienced Latinx farmers. In these hands-on workshops, farmers learn about new, higher-value crops; how to adopt and adapt closed-loop regenerative technologies, techniques and practices to their specific conditions; the managerial and operational requirements for successful farming and opportunities for state and federal support. Your funds go directly to training costs. We received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant supporting this project, but it covers only a portion of the cost.

Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center

Access, Equity, Excellence 2023: We’d like your support to host a dance festival for countywide youth led by a faculty of high-caliber BIPOC dance professionals from around the world. Many of our local BIPOC youth avoid school programs and extracurricular activities in spite of their interest and passion due to racism—both blatant and incessant microagressions—that they experience. We understand that the lack of Black and Brown teachers, mentors and leaders in Santa Cruz plays a significant role in this. Our goal for this festival is to support, inspire and elevate BIPOC youth dancers and to expose non-BIPOC youth dancers to high-powered BIPOC professionals, mentors and educators. We aim to present inspiring, thought-provoking performances while diversifying who and what is considered valued in dance creation, presentation, education and preservation.

Teen Kitchen Project

Meal Delivery for the Critically Ill in Santa Cruz County: TKP seeks support to provide approximately 800 critically and chronically ill members of the community with medically tailored meals in 2023. Professional chefs train employee/volunteer teen chefs in preparing, cooking and packaging meals for delivery. A registered dietitian evaluates meals for nutritional content and adjusts ingredients as needed to comply with heart-healthy guidelines. Meals are delivered for up to 24 weeks to individuals, their (unpaid) caregivers and children in the household under the age of 18.

UnChained

From Ruff to Ready: UnChained works with two vulnerable populations in Santa Cruz County: homeless dogs and underserved youth. UnChained offers innovative animal-assisted therapy in an 8-week program for youth and dogs twice a week, teaching teens to train dogs in basic skills, positive socialization and good manners. Our youth help place the dogs into adoptive homes after having achieved values of patience, respect and responsibility for themselves and others. Please help UnChained expand the services of our new licensed mental health therapist to every program and advance the social and emotional learning of our youth, who learn about their own thoughts and feelings through working with dogs, resulting in changes in beliefs and behaviors, and supporting greater personal growth.

Valley Churches United

Battling Today’s High Food Costs: We serve a region of the county that is chronically underserved. This past year, with the huge increase of food costs, we are experiencing more new clients in need of food than in the past seven years. We provide substantial quantities of healthy supplemental food that truly helps local residents stabilize their food expenses. Every week, we meet with clients that are still reeling from the impacts of the CZU fire as well as Covid-related issues. The inflationary costs of food, housing and gas this year have caused havoc for many local folks that were getting by on their own previously. We hope to raise enough funds to provide at least 15,000 pounds of food for our grateful clients—currently 7,000 annually: 5,000 adults and 2,000 children.

Valley Churches United

Ventures

Semillitas (“Seeds”): Semillitas provides opportunity and hope to every baby born in Santa Cruz County by providing all babies with their own college savings account (CSA) and making an initial “seed” contribution at birth. Investing early in children’s education and development will have the greatest impact on their well-being and the future of our county. Families can qualify for additional deposits to their child’s CSA by meeting developmental milestones (for example, dental and well-child visits), with the potential to earn up to $500 for their child’s account by the time they enter kindergarten.

Vets 4 Vets Santa Cruz

Home Repairs for Veterans: Requests for home repairs and building assistance have increased and we are asking your support to stabilize veteran housing in this way. We help with minor repairs, building wheelchair ramps, repairing or replacing old appliances and restoring deck safety. The costs for materials have risen, thus the request for funding at this time. Staffed by volunteers, moving assistance is another of our biggest programs. We need to purchase dollies, gas and paid helpers for some of the heavy lifting.

Village Santa Cruz County

Establish a Latino-Led Watsonville Village Community Circle: The Village is the only program in Santa Cruz County that combines social and assistance needs, and interacts with seniors at the neighborhood level. Village Community Circle members identify and build their activities around the specific wishes and needs in their area. We’d like to establish our first Latino-led Community Circle. This will involve conversational meetings with leaders and the senior Latino population, so we learn how a Village Circle can best work for the Latino community. The Village runs mainly on volunteerism and a sliding-scale membership fee. But establishing a new Circle requires outside funds. With your donations, we can conduct outreach, translate our publications into Spanish and employ a part-time Spanish-speaking person experienced in working with older, local Latinos.

Warming Center

No One Freezes This Winter: We as community members take it upon ourselves to provide warmth: a well-stocked, safe and clean warming center when temperature forecasts drop below 38° or rain is expected to exceed 1”. On all other nights of winter, in addition to our donation barrel program, we’ll purchase 2,000 blankets for distribution plus 500 for the pop-up shelter (two for each person), and provide laundry after each shelter use. We’ll hand out 5,000 hand warmers, 1,500 knit-gloves-and-beanie combos and as many as 200 rain tarps and 500 rain ponchos, depending on rainfall. After nine years in operation, this emergency pop-up program offers critical shelter and has served many thousands of people whose only alternative would be a doorway or tent.

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

Climate Corps Leadership Institute: Just 9% of Watsonville’s land is covered by tree canopy. WWW must triple that in order to meet its goal of at least 30% tree coverage in Watsonville and achieve parity with similar communities in the region. WWW’s Climate Corps Leadership Institute (CCLI) interns will plant shade trees and fruit trees at the homes of Watsonville seniors, and throughout the city in areas that lack adequate tree canopies. WWW staff provide free trees and consultations to homeowners and businesses, and organize volunteers to help plant them. Donations will support CCLI tree-planting projects during the spring 2023 semester and summer 2023 urban forestry internships for CCLI youth.

Wings Homeless Advocacy

Homeless to Home: Getting into housing for the first time in years is a huge achievement. But even after someone finally has a door to lock and make them feel safe, they may not have all the essentials for daily life. When people have what they need to be successful in their new space, they have a better chance of staying housed. Working with case managers from over 20 different county agencies, Wings dispatches volunteers to deliver beds, bedding and baskets of household and hygiene supplies to people exiting homelessness and moving into permanent housing. Wings serves families, veterans, seniors and victims of domestic violence—helping each household stabilize and heal as they transition into a new phase in life.

Donate to these Santa Cruz Gives groups at santacruzgives.org; follow @santacruzgives on Facebook and Instagram. The campaign runs through midnight on Dec. 31.

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