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A Great Time to Be Part of the Women’s Fund


In the February 2021 issue…


A Record-Breaking Year: Let’s Prepare to Vote!

We are excited to announce that next month our 2020 Women’s Fund members will vote to award the largest grants pool in our 17-year history—an amazing $750,000!

That’s three quarters of a million dollars from us—from you—to help local women, children and families as the community continues to cope with the effects of the pandemic and forge a path to recovery.

It Takes Time

Our researchers have worked diligently to finalize the ballot we’ll use to cast our votes. A larger grants pool means more nonprofits on the ballot than ever before, breaking another Women’s Fund record. Now we need to learn as much as we can about these deserving agencies in the coming weeks.

First, carefully review the Ballot Information Package which will arrive in your inbox on March 5. All 2020 members will receive this package. If you don’t receive yours, please let us know at

Next, since we are doing things virtually, EVERY member of the Women’s Fund will be invited to hear about the agencies directly from the Research Committee. We hope you can attend both parts of the Ballot Review Meetings; half the ballot will be reviewed in Part 1 and half in Part 2. To preserve confidentiality, these meetings will not be recorded, so this is your chance! Mark your calendars and register here:

  • March 10, 4:30-6:00 PM (PT): Virtual Ballot Review Meeting Part 1
  • March 11, 9:30-11:00 AM (PT): Virtual Ballot Review Meeting Part 2

What's the Timeline?

Once we learn all we can about the agencies on the ballot, then we vote. Here’s that timeline

  • March 11: Ballots emailed by Survey Monkey to all eligible voters (Individual Members and voting Group Captains) with a link to cast electronic votes.
  • March 11–27: Window for voting. Group Captains host meetings with their groups to discuss the ballot and decide on how to cast their group votes. Individual Members can join IM ballot discussion groups.
  • March 27, 6:00 PM (PT) Voting deadline for Individual Members and voting Group Captains.

Let's Celebrate!

And then on May 5, we will celebrate together, virtually. Save the date for our Virtual Celebration of Grants to recognize our new 2020-21 grantees. These nonprofits will join the more than 100 agencies and programs that have received nearly $8 million in Women's Fund grants since 2004.


Immigrants’ Stories—America’s Promise

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
- Emma Lazarus; Nov. 2, 1883

On the evening of January 28, more than 230 people attended the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara fourth virtual forum in its Grants in Action educational series. The forum focused on the topic of immigration and the work of the Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center (ILDC). It was moderated by Mikki Andina, a member of the Women’s Fund Research Committee and a retired anthropologist and public health nurse. You can watch the replay here.

History of Immigration in the U.S.

The first speaker was Claribel Madueña, a San Francisco Bay Area attorney and specialist in immigration and nationality law. She kicked off the program with a history of U.S. immigration policy and practices. Madueña described immigration in America as being “a continuous cycle across centuries – alternating between welcoming and exclusionary, push and pull, give and take.”

10,000 undocumented immigrants live in Santa Barbara County

Next to be introduced was ILDC’s Executive Director Julissa Peña. Peña said there are about 46,000 immigrants living in Santa Barbara south county and 10,000—or about one in four—are undocumented. There are many reasons why; the end result is more than 1,400 people are in deportation proceedings in Santa Barbara County and nearly half have no legal representation. The ILDC currently has a waiting list of 80 people who need representation.

Women’s Fund provided a $65,000 grant to partially fund a staff attorney

In 2018, ILDC began operations with help of volunteer attorneys in response to an increasing number of immigrants being placed in deportation proceedings. Due to the complexity and number of cases the agency was taking on, it soon became clear that more help was needed. Responding to this need, the Women’s Fund provided a $65,000 grant that helped the ILDC hire an immigration attorney. In a pre-recorded video shown during the forum, Maria Vega, the ILDC’s first staff immigration attorney, spoke about the work of ILDC and the impact the grant had on the expansion of the ILDC’s program.

Challenges facing immigrants in Santa Barbara County

Vega said that the lack of affordable legal services for immigrants in removal proceedings is one of the greatest challenges for undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are not appointed legal counsel in immigration court proceedings. The most important factor in determining whether women and children are allowed to stay in the U.S. is whether or not they have legal representation. The ILDC’s first case to make it through the long process is likely to be a case for asylum for a woman from a poor rural town in Mexico who had been subjected to rape and spousal abuse. The woman was introduced as “Gloria” and her face was hidden as she told her horrifying personal story.

ILDC has been a beacon of hope for the immigrants

The ILDC is the only organization of its kind in Santa Barbara county that offers immigration legal aid, removal defense, and help for those facing deportation. The majority of the current caseload is composed of women and children seeking to remain in the U.S., safe from circumstances that threaten their lives.

Vega said the ILDC is often in need of physicians, attorneys, counselors, and expert witnesses to support its cases. They also need people willing to drive people to court appearances and provide other help. Vega closed with the words, “Si, se puede” meaning, “Yes, you can.” Moderator Mikki Andina responded, “Yes we can help...yes it’s possible to make a difference in the lives of our immigrant neighbors.”

To learn more about struggles our immigrant neighbors are facing locally, and to turn your concern into action, contact ILDC:

Julissa Peña, Executive Director
Phone: 805-886-9136

To volunteer with Drivers Listos! (a program originated at Trinity Episcopal Church):

Molly Kellogg
Phone: 805-886-4655

For those who want to go deeper into the topics, here is a reading list suggested by the speakers and planning team.

- Contributed by Kerry Parker


Membership Corner—Share the Love!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Show your friends and family you care about them and the community. Invite them to watch this great video that shows the impact the Women’s Fund has in the community. And then invite them to join us! The video highlights two 2020 grantees—Doctors Without Walls/Santa Barbara Street Medicine and Showers of Blessing—and reveals the issues and challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Take virtual guided tours to see each nonprofit in action.

Are you a new 2020 or 2021 member? Don’t miss the New Member event tonight! There’s still time to register here. Ask everything you’ve wanted to know about the Women’s Fund and get answers in small, virtual discussion groups. Learn more about how our grant dollars are working in the community.

Thank you to all of you who are already reaching out to help the Women’s Fund grow! Let’s welcome our first new members of the year: Mary Arnoult, Janice Brown, Andrea Estrada, Debbie Fisher, Nancy Golden, Meredith Hendricks, Puspita Hutajulu, Mary Lopez, Shirley Mileca.


A Simple Way to Make a Great Impact

Are you looking for a wonderful way to bring your group together during this time of social distancing? Why not band together to support one of the grantees on our Bulletin Board?

The Bulletin Board is a list of monthly requests from our past and current grantees. It was created to make it easy to support our grantees beyond your annual donation. Items you have lying around the house or could order online could make a huge difference in people's lives.

  • The Goleta Union School District Foundation is in urgent need of child-friendly face masks—either purchased or homemade masks would be much appreciated.
  • The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is hosting a drive this month to collect musical instruments.
  • The Food Bank is feeling a crush and is looking for volunteer drivers.

The Bulletin Board offers a different way to support these hard-working nonprofits at a time when the pressure on them is so great. Thank you for your generosity.

Check it out on the website under Who We Fund.

- Contributed by Margie Larkin


The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Right after Christmas (on December 27, to be exact), the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law that extended tax benefits for charitable giving—these special tax benefits were originally set to expire at the end of 2020. Keep them in mind as you consider your charitable giving for 2021.

Here's a quick summary:

  • Universal deduction. Individuals may claim a charitable deduction of up to $300, and married couples filing jointly may claim up to $600, even without itemizing the deductions.
  • IRA gifts for individuals age 59½ and older. You may withdraw money from your IRA to make cash charitable gifts in 2021 and avoid having to pay taxes on the IRA distribution. This opportunity will not be available in 2022.
  • Charitable deduction limitations for cash gifts. For 2021, these deductions may again offset up to 100% of your adjusted income. In 2022, the deduction limitation for cash gifts will return to 60%.

As always, consult with your tax attorney or financial advisor for more information.

- Contributed by Suzi Schomer

133 East De La Guerra Street, #15
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

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