Staff Report

United Way of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Hutton Parker Foundation are leading a countywide funders’ collaborative, the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County.

The effort will provide assistance to individuals and families, as well as organizations actively assisting community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $2 million have been secured and fundraising continues to help those most in need.

United Way is working in partnership with Family Service Agency to distribute individual assistance grants to individuals and families in need on a rolling basis for as long as funds are available.

United Way and Family Service Agency are currently reviewing hundreds of applications and conducting remote interviews with all applicants to verify information and needs, and to provide case management services. The demand for these grants has been substantial, with more than 1,500 households seeking assistance.

Financial assistance checks from the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort are reaching families right now. Within the next two weeks, more than 800 households (representing some 2,400 individuals) will receive grants from United Way totaling $600,000 due to community support, which has made this possible.

Individual assistance grants will continue to be approved on a rolling basis as funds become available.

“While the long-term effects of the pandemic on our community are still evolving, we are clearly seeing the immediate economic toll of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable community members,” said Steve Ortiz, president/CEO, United Way of Santa Barbara County.

“Tens of thousands of Santa Barbara County individuals and families who have lost employment are in desperate need of financial support right now to pay rent, buy food and medicine,” he said. “Any funds we receive for the effort will go directly to those most in need.

“Paying rent is the top concern of many local families and individuals,” Ortiz said. “Households are also having to make heartbreaking choices about buying food versus paying the bills or purchasing needed medications.”

Given the extraordinary demand from the community for help, which already well exceeds the total funding available at this time, United Way expects to conduct a second round of funding in the coming weeks, particularly as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to take effect.

To do this, however, additional donations are needed from those fortunate enough to donate in these trying times.

The COVID-19 Joint Response Effort will align and coordinate efforts, collect and share information, and distribute financial resources on a rolling basis for the community’s most vulnerable populations. To date, 46 local nonprofit groups have received grants totaling $695,468 to help them meet immediate community needs.

“Our combined approach to supporting both individuals/families as well as other nonprofits who are responding to COVID-19 allows us to address needs quickly and on multiple levels,” said Jackie Carrera, interim CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation.

Those who are fortunate enough to be able to give are encouraged to support the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County. Donations to support individuals and families can be made at United Way at

To support local nonprofits serving affected community members, donations can be made at the Santa Barbara Foundation,

For more about United Way of Santa Barbara County, visit For more on the Santa Barbara Foundation, visit