In the 21st Century, Ventura County is getting national recognition for its unique mix of agriculture, high technology, urban environments, open space and beachfront property.
But forging an independent identity for one of California’s largest counties has been far more difficult than it looks today. Just 25 years ago, Ventura County operated without a central focal point for corporate philanthropy. While the Santa Barbara Foundation forged important links between wealthy donors and community needs going back decades, Ventura County had no equivalent organization.
That changed in 1987 when the Ventura County Community Foundation came into existence with the help of leaders such as the late Martin V. Smith and longtime Limoneira Co. director Alan Teague, who became the founding board chair at VCCF.
VCCF has an experienced and thoughtful chief in Executive Director Hugh Ralston, its assets are more than $120 illion and it has provided more than $57 million to nonprofits and community organizations.
Among signal accomplishments are providing services to more than 10,000 farmworkers displaced by the 2007 freeze that destroyed strawberry and citrus crops. It partnered with local industry to provide a Clean Air Fund to supplement activities of the county’s pollution control district.
And thanks to generous donors such as Troop Real Estate, it has helped improve technology in more than 250 classrooms in the county.
The best thing about VCCF’s first 25 years is that it has stayed true to the core values of Ventura County. It has made education and housing support for farmworkers and their families a key priority, strengthening Ventura County agriculture, a proud tradition. With the Troop initiative and other funds, it has helped fill important gaps in the public education system, upholding another Ventura County tradition — excellence in public education.
And it has engaged in any number of initiatives to retain corporate social responsibility and business-nonprofit partnerships as important building blocks for the future.
Today VCCF oversees some 600 funds, created by donors, to help with these and other issues. During the past year it created a permanent home for itself and other countywide organizations when it acquired a building in Camarillo that has become a hub for nonprofit activity.
VCCF formally celebrates its quarter century with a luncheon on June 12 at the Camarillo Ranch. We’d offer our congratulations and observe that for VCCF the best is yet to come.