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2023 Women's Fund Grantee Recipients

The highlight of the year for the 1,200 members of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara is when they reveal which local nonprofits their members have selected to receive transformational grants.

This year, on May 9, hundreds of attendees watched spellbound in the Marjorie Luke Theater as each recipient was announced. Inspiring stories of how these gifts will transform the incredible work of each organization gave deep meaning to the importance of this rare group of philanthropic women. The Women’s Fund is changing lives every day.  

Jamie Dufek, board chair of Women’s Fund, thanked all recipients for “the hard and heart work you do in our community.”

The awardees of the grants from the record-breaking $925,000 did not apply for the funds in the usual way. Nonprofits must be invited to submit an application for funding. The members choose applicants to invite that they think are making a significant contribution to our community. Then, a 14-member research committee conducts in-depth research on each organization, presenting their recommendations to the membership group for a vote, resulting in a list of winners.  

These last few years have been extremely difficult for the Santa Barbara community — with hunger, homelessness, and mental health challenges more pervasive than ever. Yet, since 2004, the Women’s Fund has been honored to stand with other community leaders to address our neighbors’ greatest needs by giving more than 140 grant awards.

During that time, nearly $10.5 million has been awarded to local nonprofits, impacting the lives of more than 100,000 women, children and families. All dollars stayed in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria. Generous underwriters, an all-volunteer board leadership and operations management team, and enthusiastic volunteers help offset expenses to maximize grants.

This past year, the Women’s Fund supported mental health services for children and teens; outreach services for youth living on the street; a mobile dental clinic; food delivery for low-income seniors; services for those transitioning from homelessness; an outdoor learning environment; and a recidivism reduction program for girls in the legal system.

This year 10 nonprofits share in the $925,000 fund. Attendees at this popular event cheered wildly as each recipient walked to the podium to receive their award.


The 2022-23 grant recipients are:

2nd Story Associates: Furnishings for permanent supportive housing. $50,000.

Alzheimer’s Association: Alzheimer’s Education. And Support for Latino families. $30,000.

Food from the Heart: A new truck to collect and distribute produce. $75,000.

Independent Living Resource Center: Independent living support for youth with disabilities. $100,000/two years.

Immigrant Legal Defense Center: Case management for unaccompanied immigrant children. $130,000/two years.

Alpha Resource Center: Air conditioning and automated doors. $140,000.

Family Service Agency: Community mental health navigator pilot program. $100,000/two years.

Hillside House: Adaptive van to accommodate wheelchairs. $100,000.

Legal Aid Foundation: Legal services. For survivors of intimate partner violence. $100,000/two years.

St. Vincent’s: Peer support specialist for homeless mothers. $100,000/two years.


Six local women founded the Women’s Fund
The Women’s Fund was founded by Fritzie Yamin, Carol Palladini, Joanne Rapp, Perri Harcourt, Jean Kaplan, and Shirley Ann Hurley in 2004.

The philanthropically minded women were looking for a new type of fundraising because they were tired of the same old routine. Luckily, they had the vision to see that Giving Circles were the fundraising of the future. Giving Circles are growing dramatically and are expected to allow philanthropy to be democratized and diversified.

It’s easy to join the Women’s Fund
The Women’s Fund welcomes all women to join. Men are welcome to donate but cannot become voting members.

To become a member, a woman makes a contribution to the Women’s Fund as either an individual or part of a group. This enables her to help select the recipients of a grants pool which is comprised of all members’ donations. We are happy to help a woman find a group.

There is no minimum contribution required; however, a minimum contribution of $275 is suggested. Membership contributions determine how members vote to distribute the funds collected each year. A vote is awarded for every $2,750 contributed.

There are two ways to contribute and vote: Become a group member by joining with other women who, together, contribute $2,750 (or more) in a calendar year. Each group receives one vote for every $2,750 contribution the group has made.

There is no limit to the size of a group or how much a woman may contribute. Become an individual member by contributing $2,750 (or more) in a calendar year. Receive one vote on how collected funds are distributed the next spring for every $2,750 contribution a woman makes, up to a limit of four votes.

More to come!
Next year will be Women’s Fund’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate this momentous achievement, the group hopes to raise in excess of $1 million to fund their grants.

To accomplish this, they encourage current members to give at a higher level for this coming year and they urge more women to join as individuals or as a group. Their motto for next year is “One million or more in 2024!”

Let’s help them achieve this worthy goal and celebrate the positive impact of collective giving in our community.


Photo above of Representatives from nonprofit agencies receiving the 2022-23 Women’s Fund grants. (photo by Emily Hart Roberts) 

Article by Cynder Sinclair, Noozhawk Columnist

Noozhawk 5-12-23