February 23, 2024
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Corporations should support local nonprofits


By Midge Campbell-Thomas and Greg Bland

As we enter the holiday season, it’s a great moment to reflect on all that we, as a community, have been through and overcome. Indeed, our Tri-County communities have been through a lot the past couple of years, but we’ve also seen how resilient we can be, especially when we work together for neighbors in times of need. 

This is especially true for our noble nonprofit sector here in the Central Coast. While the local economy and businesses continue to rebound post-pandemic, the nonprofit sector continues to experience unprecedented demand for critical services. In a time where our most vulnerable and underserved communities have been hardest hit by the post-pandemic economy, the reliability and commitment of our nonprofit and government agencies has been unwavering. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, local agencies were tasked with assessing the unprecedented impacts the pandemic had on health, food insecurity, jobs and other basic needs – then figuring out how to pivot their services to meet these new demands amid social distancing and stay-at-home requirements. While we have come a long way in short time, the demand for their services has not subsided. 

Fueling this demand are rising costs and slow job growth. A recent Central Coast Economic Forecast found job growth in inland communities reached 46% since the start of the pandemic, while only hitting 15% in coastal communities. Low-wage agricultural worker communities across the tri-counties, for example, have been struggling as the rising cost of living and rent, going up as much as 30% in some neighborhoods. 

Thankfully, the Central Coast has a tremendous network of partners in the private sector committed to supporting the nonprofit sector. Our own company, Bank of America, recognizes its responsibility as a corporate citizen to serve and strengthen local communities and help these organizations scale in sustainable ways.  We are proud that this year Bank of America gave nearly $1.6 million to nonprofits across the Central Coast that address basic needs like hunger, health and housing, as well as education and paid career development programs, small business support and investments into the region’s farmworker needs to help individuals and communities chart a path to economic mobility.  

Beneficiaries of the bank’s support include: entrepreneurial programs with Women’s Economic Ventures in Ventura and Santa Barbara, Women’s Business Center San Luis Obispo,  SCORE of San Luis Obispo and Women’s Business Center San Luis Obispo, paid intern and work training programs with Ojai-based Concerned Resource & Environmental Workers for teens and UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Sciences, the Ventura College Foundation,  the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College and organizations like FoodShare, SLO Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.

We are grateful for the steadfast work these and all nonprofits demonstrate in serving those most in need, and salute them.  Bank of America looks forward to continuing our philanthropic investments in them, as well as volunteering side by side with them over the holidays and into the new year. 

• Midge Campbell-Thomas is Ventura-Santa Barbara president of Bank of America. Greg Bland is the bank’s San Luis Obispo president.