Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 Joint Response Effort is closing its relief fund after distributing $5.8 million to those in need since the start of the pandemic.
The creators of the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort are The Santa Barbara Foundation, United Way of Santa Barbara County and the Hutton Parker Foundation. The groups announced the end of the program on July 14.
Jackie Carrera, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, described the nonprofits as a “three-legged stool,” all contributing their strengths to different areas of the effort. The groups met weekly for 65 weeks to organize and distribute the funds.
“To be a part of a partnership at a time like this is not only important but a relief, and it has been a pleasure to work with them through this process,” Carrera said.
The groups’ mission was to raise money and provide funds to those affected by the public health emergency. The $5.8 million that went into and out of the fun came from local foundations, individual donors, national foundations and corporations, Carrera said.
“We did a lot of grant writing and we raised money from whoever wanted to contribute to the fund in Santa Barbara County,” she said.
Of the $5.8 million, $3.2 million was given to other nonprofits for their relief efforts, and $2.6 million went directly to people in need. In both cases, the money was targeted to those who were most vulnerable to the pandemic. The types of nonprofits that received grants included those who worked with senior living, essential workers, students, and people with health issues.
In order to establish that the program was successful, the nonprofits that received money were asked to report what they did with the grant and explain how it helped their organization during the pandemic. Cerrara told the Business Times that 91% of the grantees reported that the funding met their needs and 85% reported that the grant allowed their nonprofit to further form collaborative relationships.
The COVID-19 Joint Response Effort is ending, Carrera said, because vaccination rates have grown and COVID cases have declined, so the nonprofits can shift their services to rebuilding and recovery instead.
However, cases have started to rise again as the more contagious delta variant spreads among unvaccinated people. Carrera said the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort is aware of the problem and is regularly evaluating Santa Barbara County’s to determine what kind of help is still necessary.
“Whether it’s the delta Variant or any other disaster that happens in Santa Barbara County, we have these incredible relationships and infrastructure to respond to these disasters,” Carrera said.