Ventura County Community Foundation, a flagship organization for philanthropy in the region, has cut staff, commenced a major audit and reduced some of its landmark programs.
It owns a building that serves as a hub for nonprofit activity in the region. But that probably can’t be sustained without some increase in the deeply discounted rents that enabled the foundation to purchase the building several years ago.
As the Business Times has reported, these are major challenges. But we’d also argue that VCCF is a systemically important institution that will be stronger for going through a major reset.
We’d also argue that in Vanessa Bechtel the foundation has found a committed executive leader who can build a much stronger institution for the future. With $137 million in assets, VCCF is one of the larger foundations in Ventura County and the sixth-largest foundation in the Tri-Counties.
But it is a relatively new organization, created in the late 1980s. That meant that Boys & Girls Clubs, United Way, hospitals and specialized programs such as Interface or Casa Pacifica had well-established fundraising efforts that predated VCCF’s more broadly-based efforts.
In recent years, it has been trying to make up for decades in which one of California’s largest counties lacked a robust philanthropic core.
It’s clear that VCCF got a bit ahead of itself in terms of staffing and reach — but we’re convinced that its intentions were to create an institution that was equal to the task of serving a county whose population will soon reach a million.
This will not be the first time that a major philanthropic institution underwent a major transformation. We think there are more assets in the county that can be brought to bear to take up delivering services that VCCF is going to have to cut.
And we think that, as a core for holding the legacy of wealth that’s been created in the county over the generations, VCCF, its Destino Hispanic Legacy Fund and other programs are essential to the future of philanthropy.
The alternatives would be to fold VCCF into a statewide organization or into the larger community foundation that serves greater Los Angeles. That’s unthinkable.
When we were fortunate enough to be able to give back, we chose VCCF to hold the funds for the Pacific Coast Business Times Scholarship Fund. VCCF’s decision to step up and face its problems convinces us we made the right call.
Isla Vista bill a step forward
A measure that would provide increased community services for Isla Vista has made it to the Governor’s office for signature.
Thanks to the efforts of Assembly member Das Williams, AB3 would require Santa Barbara County’s board of supervisors to apply for a so-called Community Services District, with the financing mechanism, a utilities user tax, to be placed on the November 2016 ballot for voter approval in Isla Vista.
The district would provide additional police services, control visitor traffic and improve lighting and other infrastructure. It is an effort to provide improved governance for IV, one of the most populated areas in California that is not part of a municipality.
Williams has stuck with the effort since the Isla Vista mass shootings of May 2014. This is not a complete solution but it is a step forward.