Advancing progressive change by strengthening movements for Economic, Environmental, Political, Racial, and Social Justice.

The Fund for Santa Barbara (est. 1980) is a non-traditional community foundation that supports organizations and groups working for progressive social change in Santa Barbara County. The FUND is dedicated to helping find solutions to current and emerging social problems and issues that challenge our society as a whole. We understand that social conditions improve most dramatically when those who have been denied power and justice lead on their own behalf to confront, challenge and change the conditions that have denied them access to justice and equity.

Funding Guidelines & Priorities

The FUND believes that significant social changes ultimately require broad participation in and democratic control of all social, political, and economic institutions. 

We define social change as change that addresses the systemic, root causes of social (economic, environmental, political, and racial) inequalities in an effort to alleviate those inequalities but also the underlying conditions and circumstances that cause and sustain them. The FUND gives preference to projects that address the systemic root causes of social inequalities. We support projects with a strong systemic change component. 

The FUND provides seed grants to new grassroots projects; general support or project grants to small organizations; and targeted grants to larger, more established organizations.


  • Actively support anti-discrimination based on race, sex/gender, age, religion, language spoken or immigration status;
  • Actively support communities marginalized by power structures to engage in dialogue and actions that seek to counter social injustice;
  • Actively work to improve the rights of workers and their families whose living conditions have been marginalized;
  • Promote the cultural life of underserved communities and support the activities of cultural workers;
  • Promote self-determination and leadership development in low-income and disenfranchised communities;
  • Promote Global peace and organize locally for just policies;
  • Work on building coalitions to enhance improving environmental justice and address climate change, especially organizing a constituency usually without access to decision-makers
  • Engage in collaborative action and coalition-building to strengthen movement ecosystems; Work against community violence and actively support recovery and restorative justice activities and initiatives;
  • Operate in a democratic manner, responsive to and directed by the constituency being served.

Priorities (these are the guiding questions that the Grant Making Committee uses when deliberating)

  • Guidelines: Does this project have the potential to create or advance social, economic, political, and/or environmental change? Please refer to The FUND Guidelines
  • Priorities: Are there elements of Community Organizing, Lobbying, Direct Action, Base-building, Coalition-Building, or Legal Strategy?
  • Access to Funding: Does this project lack access to funding? Would the project go forward without support from The FUND?
  • Critical Timing/Need: Does the organization have the capacity to reach its social change goals? Are the key players familiar with other organizations in the same field to further the goal of movement building?
  • Impact of Funds: How clear is the budget outline? How well does the budget support the project’s social change goals? Will funding help start up the organization, stabilize the organization, and/or leverage other funding sources?
  • Regional Equity: Will this project help the GMC achieve its objective of providing equity in funding throughout Santa Barbara County?

We do not fund

  • Political campaigns that support a candidate or a political party;
  • Private (vs. public) interests;
  • Direct labor organizing;
  • Projects providing direct services without a social change component;
  • Direct support to individuals;
  • Building improvements;
  • Capital ventures, i.e. machines, vehicles, etc.;
  • Equipment, i.e. office equipment, tools, etc; 
  • Projects located outside of Santa Barbara County.

HISTORY: The Racial Equity Fund of The County of Santa Barbara County (REFCSB) is an initiative that came directly from grassroots organizing by Black femme leaders in Santa Barbara County who demanded that the County of Santa Barbara invest in the Black community in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing racial justice movement. Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors (“the County”) passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, made a commitment to racial justice, and pledged $500,000 to begin to address equity issues in the county. Roughly half of the funds were allocated to internal/institutional County equity development with the remaining funds to be distributed through the Fund for Santa Barbara’s (“The FUND”) participatory grantmaking process in collaboration with The County of Santa Barbara. The FUND has a long history through its grant making program of supporting historically marginalized communities to be full participants in our community’s social, civic, and economic life. This funding program aims to build capacity, expand, and/or stabilize historically marginalized organizations in Santa Barbara County. In 2022, the County Board of Supervisors allocated an additional $275,000 to fund a second cycle of the program.

MISSION: To invest in and strengthen organizations that address anti-racism through systems change strategies in Santa Barbara County. This fund aims to effect the culture, policy, and systems change necessary to advance racial equity and justice, and reverse the legacy of slavery and effects of racism in Santa Barbara County.

This fund aims to provide organizational capacity assistance to:

  1. Strengthen the ecosystem of diverse, anti-racism organizations in the community that share a common goal to address cultural and systemic effects of  racism.
  2. Increase active participation of historically marginalized communities to influence civic matters that impact our community at large.
  3. Develop the pipeline to uplift historically marginalized leaders to positions of decision-making and influence.
  4. Increase and sustain investment to strengthen organizations led by historically marginalized who have lacked access to capital.
  5. Addressing and working to change systemic negative narratives about the legacy of slavery in the community
  6. Establish and advance organizational capacity in organizations historically marginalized in the following areas:
  • Leadership development
  • Advocacy, policy change, legal analysis, and research
  • Strategic communications
  • Alliance and coalition building
  • Organizational development
  • Community engagement and organizing
  • Innovation and continuous learning
  • Develop organizational and programmatic objectives, conduct evaluations, and assess outcomes.


  1. Must be a historically oppressed, marginalized, and underrepresented-led group (i.e. Must support community members directly harmed by the racist policies and marginalized by systemic racism)
  2. Must include as a core mission the goal of addressing systemic racism
  3. Projects must take place in the County of Santa Barbara
  4. Have a Tax ID Number, Employer Identification Number (EIN), or a fiscal sponsor
  5. Have an organizational bank account (or a fiscal sponsor's)


  1. To be eligible, an organization must meet The FUND's Funding Guidelines and Priorities.
  2. Note: **REFSBC funding cannot be used for lobbying, legal strategy, or 501(c)4 work
The Fund for Santa Barbara