HELPING CHILDREN REACH THEIR POTENTIAL
How can we welcome each new baby as a miracle endowed with immense potential? How can we support their spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological well-being? How can we ensure that all children and youth have the opportunity to succeed based on their unique individual ability and not be limited by preconceptions of who they are based on their culture, class and race?
Placed Based School Readiness: We focus significant financial support on projects that strategically improve kindergarten/school readiness. We view this readiness in the broadest sense, including intellectual readiness, physical preparedness, and most importantly, social and emotional well-being. We have a strong preference for programs that make a difference on a population level – at a school, school district, neighborhood, or an entire community.
Toward this aim, we are currently engaged in close collaborations with the three largest public school districts on the Santa Barbara Southcoast, their non-profit partners and several other local funders in following a “Whatever It Takes” approach to dramatically improve school readiness. These efforts include educating and supporting parents, aligning mental health and other social services, providing high-quality pre-school, and improving systems – including information management systems – that support better articulation between early childhood and the school system. Starting in 2014 the three main School Districts and their partners have come together to form the South Coast Tri District Collaborative, an alliance that works to exchange ideas and best practices. The group has co-developed a collection of proposals that move this approach forward on the South Coast. Those proposals can be found using the links below:
While we are still in the early phases of this work, initial results are promising. The links to some recent project updates and our partner districts are below. Non-profits supported for this work must have strong links with the partner districts and proposals are submitted by the districts or their respective education foundations.
Pre to Three: We believe that each child is born with enormous potential and that the sooner they can be given healthy environments in which to grow, the better they will be able to progress through the development stages so critical to their later life. Unfortunately, while many others share this view we as a community and society still fail to direct adequate resources and attention to this important area. Even in the placed-based school readiness efforts mentioned above this is a field that is ripe for growth and improvement.
Making this even more challenging is the lack of integration between the various systems that support families from pre-natal care, birth, post-natal care, and integration into the pre-school system. Not only does this limit the impact of individual programs and the resources used to support them, it makes it very difficult to track the impact of each effort on the ultimate success of children as they mature.
We are interested in supporting projects that operate in this arena with an ultimate goal of integrating unique programs into more comprehensive neighborhood or community wide efforts like those described above.
Culture, Class, and Race: There is a clear divide in our community between the experience and expectations of youth that come from low income, often Latino and African American families, and their counterparts who are economically better off and often white. We believe there is a strong consensus that dramatically changing this dynamic is a critical issue for the well-being of our entire community. We will support projects that address this is a comprehensive way by addressing issues of cultural proficiency, implicit bias, and racism.
This gap covers most measures of youth success, from academic achievement to involvement with crime. It has persisted for more than a generation in spite of the best efforts of many who have worked to change it. We believe there is a strong consensus that dramatically changing this dynamic is a critical issue for the well-being of our entire community. We will support projects that address this in a comprehensive way.
We are interested in supporting efforts that focus on changing the systems that support Latino children and young adults. One example of this kind of work is the Program for Effective Access to College (PEAC) which emerged from a partnership between La Cumbre Junior High School and San Marcos High School, both in SBUSD. A link to a recent progress report can be found below.
We are also able to provide modest support for work that helps youth and young adults enter or re-enter education or the world of work. In many cases we find that a strong relationship with a relative agency, such as a school district or probation department, is an important part of making efforts like this successful.
Technology: In many cases the evolution in technology that has changed much of modern life has had relatively limited impact on the areas previously mentioned. We are exploring how this can be improved and have and may continue to make limited grants in this area.
Supporting children and families in a comprehensive and strategic way may well go beyond the abilities of any one non-profit agency and may require the formation of unique collaborative efforts of groups that share a particular goal. We support the formation and continued work of collaboratives following the collective impact model, such as THRIVE Santa Barbara County.
We recognize that none of this work would be possible without the strong partnership with our local school districts. For more information on them, please click on the image links below.