Staff Report

The First 5 Santa Barbara County Commission for Children and Families (First 5 SBC) is offering grants to nonprofits, schools and institutes of higher learning that serve children birth to five, their families and those who care for them. Currently, three categories for funding are available: Innovation, Capacity Building and Express.

“Systems often are the holders of inequities,” said Wendy Sims Moten, executive director of First 5 Santa Barbara County. “We must do more than close gaps and point to disparities. We must look critically at all facets of our organizations as we strive in all of our work to achieve social and race equity, a state in which all children have the same opportunity to reach the potential we know they have.”

Innovation grants in the amount of $1,500 each provide opportunity for organizations to reflect on and share their innovative COVID-19 strategies developed over the past 18 months focused on social and racial equity. The commission will also award up to three Look Ahead Innovation grants ranging from $2,500 to $3,750 to support “think tank” opportunities to investigate equity and social justice issues that may have potential to create a change in practice or an operational procedure within an organization or community.

First 5 SBC set aside $45,000 for Capacity Building grants that are intended to support short-term organizational-wide change efforts. Grants of up to $15,000 are intended to build the leadership or staff capacity of an organization via professional or leadership development activity including trainings, conferences or certifications. These activities must be in the areas of equity and/or social justice, and align with the commission’s Strategic Plan and First 5 SBC Social Justice and Racial Equity Statement.

Express grants are available for one-time projects or material that help community-based organizations maintain, expand or improve their ability to serve children and families through age 5. 

Grant applications must align with the indicators outlined in the First 5 SBC strategic plan. Applications may be submitted once a year for up to $10,000.

Applications will be accepted on an on-going basis through Feb. 15. For more information or to download an application form, go to the website at