Power of Purpose Newsletter – March 22, 2021

 In Newsletters

Dear Ventura County Community Foundation Family,

Just over a year ago, March 13, 2020 to be exact, we released a joint press release announcing that the Ventura County Community Foundation, in coordination with the County of Ventura, Amgen Foundation, Southeast Ventura YMCA, Give An Hour, and the Economic Development Collaborative, had launched a Rapid Response Fund for Ventura County to support the needs of individuals and families with food and housing support, childcare, wage replacement, mental health care, and so much more.

As local public health officials were working heroically to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, we knew that so many in our community would experience extreme financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and we wanted to ensure that our local nonprofit organizations would have the financial support needed to maintain and increase services to keep up with demand.

I vividly remember pacing my hallway at 4 a.m. that morning, reflecting on the international pandemic and volatile global markets, knowing it was natural to feel alarm and deep concern. But, I had learned from the previous few years as our community responded to numerous wildfires and tragedies, that our community is generous. I knew we would never let fear prevent us from taking the very urgent actions needed to help Ventura County and those in our community who lack a reliable and consistent social safety net.

And, of course, that is what we have accomplished together! More than $14 million has been contributed to nonprofits and families in need this past year!

In addition, the County of Ventura provided over $20 million in funding for thousands of small businesses to receive financial support grants. Our cities contributed as well, with the City of Camarillo leading the way in approving $1 million for small business grants for local businesses through your community foundation.

You have each made a significant difference in the lives of over 100,000 of our neighbors! Thank you!!!

Please stand with us again now as we continue to support those who need it most. A huge thank you to the Amgen Foundation for matching dollars raised during this critical time. Every dollar makes a difference!

My best to you,

Amgen Foundation Provides Critical Matching Funds for Rapid Response Fund for COVID-19

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VCCF is incredibly grateful to the Amgen Foundation for its generous contribution of $300,000 in matching funds to VCCF’s Rapid Response Fund for COVID-19.

All funding will be directed to local nonprofit organizations providing critical needs in our community. For a full list of prior grant awards from the Rapid Response Fund for COVID-19, click here.

“Over the next several weeks, our goal is to raise a total of $600,000 with the help of these matching dollars,” said Vanessa Bechtel, President and CEO. “We are so profoundly grateful to the Amgen Foundation for their partnership over the last year and their continued generosity in supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.”

Creating Lasting Impact in Our Shared World:
An Impact Report Speaker Series


As we have reached the one-year mark of social distancing and unprecedented giving, we are pleased to invite you to a special virtual celebration of key accomplishments open to all: Creating Lasting Impact In Our Shared World: An Impact Report Speaker Series

Each impact report event will provide an update on a specific initiative, personal stories from our community, and will include special presentations by key community leaders.

Register now for our upcoming events, or watch the recordings of our previous events.

We hope you can join us!

Testimonials about the Rapid Response Fund


“Safe Passage was in a position in February 2020 to respond immediately to vulnerable micro communities who were even more at risk to the pandemic because of their limited access to services. We had the staff, the volunteers, and the ability, but what we needed was financial support and that is where the Ventura County Community Foundation stepped in.

Because of the Rapid Response Fund we were able to:

  • Provide emergency food relief to families who were stricken with COVID-19 and/or suddenly left unemployed because of the economic shut down
  • Deliver over 140,000 meals to children
  • Disperse over 60,000 diapers to families
  • Deliver over 100,000 pounds of groceries to keep families healthy
  • Issue more than 300 emergency utility grants for persons of color who have children in their household and were unable to pay their utilities because of the impact of COVID
  • Ensure weekly COVID testing in micro communities of color

The Rapid Relief Fund, in a true sense, is the engine for nonprofits to be able to respond more quickly than government in emergency situations.”

– Tim Hagel, Director
Safe Passages Youth Foundation


When COVID-19 hit our community last year, Habitat for Humanity Ventura County predicted that many of its homeowners’ jobs would be affected and that many would need direct financial assistance. In response, staff conducted a COVID-19 needs assessment survey with all of HFHVC’s homeowners across the county and indeed found that many had lost their jobs or had reduced hours and some were worried that they wouldn’t be able to make their monthly mortgage payments.

Thanks to a quick-funded grant from the Rapid Response Fund for COVID-19, Habitat for Humanity Ventura County has been able to provide direct mortgage assistance to nine of its homeowners. That’s nine families who were able to stay current on their mortgages, remain in the homes they worked so hard to build and purchase, and weather the financial challenges that happened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

– Katie Norris, Director of Development and Communications
Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County

Thousand Oaks Community Commitment Award

City of Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña introduced a monthly award program to recognize volunteers in the City. The Community Commitment Award recognizes individuals who are volunteering in the community, without much recognition, and making strides in helping those in need.

Check out this uplifting video of 20-year-old Luis Tun who received the award for his volunteer efforts at the Westminster Free Clinic and throughout the Conejo Valley!

“VCCF’s support at Westminster clinic has impacted this young man and his family over the years and made his success possible.”

– Lisa Safaeinili, MPH, Executive Director
Westminster Free Clinic

CA Relief Grant: Arts and Cultural Program


The State of California and the California Office of the Small Business Advocate has announced the Arts and Cultural Program to support eligible, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural institutions as part of their comprehensive urgent relief package. Funds from this grant can be used to cover costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety restrictions such as business interruptions or business closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deadline to apply is March 23rd, 2021.

Click below to learn more and apply.


Dignity Health St. John’s Healthcare Foundation Launches CEO Challenge for Behavioral Health

Dignity Health’s St. John’s Healthcare Foundation is raising money to expand access to behavioral health services in Ventura County. In support of this initiative, Lloyd H. Dean, CEO for CommonSpirit Health, has challenged Darren W. Lee, President and CEO for St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital and St. John’s Regional Medical Center, to a sit-up challenge on Wednesday, April 7Each CEO will be competing to do the most sit-ups and raise the most money in support of behavioral health expansion in Ventura County!

National standards for care state that a minimum of 50 inpatient mental health beds are recommended to serve every 100,000 people; currently, Ventura County has only 10 for every 100,000 people. The need to expand access and services is immense. Support St. John’s and help raise funds for behavioral health programs by donating here.

Power of Community

Good News from YOUR Ventura County Community

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This month we are proud to feature TOArts, a nonprofit fundraising and presenting partner of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Their mission is to enrich lives and strengthen the fabric of the community through arts education and the presentation and support of visual and performing arts at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center and beyond. VCCF was a recent sponsor of the TOArts Road Show: Concerts in Your Car Series.

In response to the pandemic, TOArts rose to the challenge to Keep the Arts Alive in our community:

  • In September 2020 they launched the TOArts Road Show, a series of movies and live concerts that average about 50 or so cars per performance.
  • In October 2020, they launched AccessArts with a vision to provide equal access to high quality sequential arts education to elementary schools. They partnered with Conejo Schools Foundation and Conejo Valley Unified School District to provide weekly virtual arts education to all 16 CVUSD elementary schools which represents nearly 7,000 students. These lessons are available on YouTube for anyone to access!
  • In December 2020, in response to a request for virtual field trips from the schools in our County, they launched Virtually Kids and the Arts providing free access to high quality diverse performances and National Geographic speakers sourced from around the country and even internationally. Sign up today to check out these virtual field trips and performances!
  • In January 2020, in the spirit of “ALL,” the TOArts board adopted a statement of commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and appointed a task force of the Board to initiate a relationship with an equity consultant who will help bring this statement alive through their audiences, performances and commitment to arts education.
Click below to learn more about their programs and how you can get involved!

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