Power of Purpose Newsletter — September 27, 2021

 In Newsletters


Dear Ventura County Community Foundation Family,

As I mark my one-year anniversary as part of your family serving as Chief Operating Officer, I pause to reflect on the amazing work we accomplish together as a community to positively impact the lives of our residents, businesses, and local community organizations. I am particularly proud of VCCF’s partnership with hundreds of organizations throughout Ventura County to increase the response to the U.S. Census in 2020, where we collectively showed what grassroots community collaboration can do with trusted messengers to make a difference. We are now repeating that success by reengaging as the “Complete Reach Committee” and repositioning this inspirational group of community leaders to support outreach and education around the vaccine. I’m grateful to report that we are seeing the success of this work; as of this week, all zip codes but two in Ventura County have exceeded a fully vaccinated rate of 65%. There is much more to do and we are proud to announce that with the help and support of the County of Ventura, a second round of funding to local nonprofits to continue the work of community outreach to get vaccinated has been launched.

As we look to the future beyond the pandemic, we need to think about all of Ventura County and ensure our rebuilding efforts are accomplished through a lens of equity and inclusion, both economically and socially. At your Ventura County Community Foundation, we envision an engaged and thriving community inspired by growing generosity. Our Mission is “connecting people, resources and solutions to create a lasting impact in our shared world.”

We are in this together more than ever.


Jeffrey Lambert
Chief Operating Officer of the Ventura County Community Foundation

Two Upcoming Grant Opportunities

Ventura County Bar Association Legal Services Fund

The primary focus for this application shall be to fund legal services and to provide legal information beneficial to the residents of Ventura County, California. The secondary area of focus is to distribute monies to Ventura County community-based organizations which deliver programs and services to special populations including youth, seniors, disadvantaged and the physical and mentally challenged, as well as for unrestricted general charitable purposes within and without the County of Ventura, California.

The application deadline is Friday, October 22, 2021 at 5 p.m. Questions about the grant program should be directed to Calleen O’Neall, Executive Liaison to the President & CEO and Board of Directors, at coneall@vccf.org.

Vaccine Outreach and Education

The County of Ventura and VCCF have partnered to expand the vaccine outreach in Ventura. The grant application for the second round of Vaccine Outreach is now available. This grant will focus on geographic and demographics populations of the county not yet vaccinated, prioritizing applicants in the following areas:

Priority geographic areas are: Simi Valley, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, and high-density residential areas

Priority Demographics to support are: Young adults and students (12-18, middle schools, high schools, and colleges), Filipino/Asian Pacific Islanders, African Americans, faith/spiritual groups, millennial Latinx, and seasonal farmworkers

Grants applications must be completed by October 5 at 5 p.m. The review committee will strive to make granting decisions by October 31.

Lunch & Learn – Family Justice Center and Housing Pilot Program

VCCF’s September Lunch & Learn call featured an update on the Housing Pilot Program, as well as a feature on the Family Justice Center. A recording of this session is available below, and highlights some of the foundation’s great work to address homelessness and housing in Ventura County.

Nyeland Promise

On a cold morning, Mike was at the local water company conducting some maintenance at 5:30 a.m. Three girls came walking down in their PJs and a blanket wrapped around each one of them. They placed their backpacks on the fence and turned to walk home. A second group came down and did the same thing. When the third group of children in PJs and blankets came down with their backpacks, Mike asked them, “What are you doing?” One girl answered, “We place our backpacks on the fence to hold our place in line. That way, we are the first ones on the bus and the first ones off the bus, so we can go eat breakfast because we are hungry.” This was the catalyst for Mike Barber and Mary Anne Rooney to start the Nyeland Promise.

VCCF is so grateful to Nyeland Promise for its community outreach and partnership int the 2020 Census effort and vaccine outreach and education.

The Nyeland Promise is designed to provide the residents of Nyeland Acres with support, resources, advocacy, encouragement, services and basic needs to transform their lives and families. The smallest community in Oxnard, Nyeland Acres is located directly next to the 101 freeway with approximately 3,200 residents, of which approximately one-third are students, 93% of the residents identify themselves as Hispanic, and 71% of residents are under age 34. Nyeland Acres is a very low-income community with multiple families sharing homes.

Their volunteer corps, Comadres y Compadres, has led an aggressive campaign to educate the community about Covid and provide testing. Their efforts also include providing information about the vaccine and and encouraging residents to obtain a vaccine, resulting in a 5.61% increase in vaccinations. One of their current projects is providing free internet service to all school-aged children. Only 30% of residents can afford internet service, putting students at a disadvantage for their schooling and homework during virtual learning. Working with community organizations and local donors, Nyeland Promise is building out a wireless network for students.

Donor Interview – Mike Mereweather

VCCF’s Ginny Claborn interviewed VCCF’s long-time donor Mike Mereweather, who shared his thoughts on his own philanthropic journey.

New Projects at the Ventura Botanical Gardens

The Ventura Botanical Gardens have made excellent progress on their most recent projects, including their newly built-out nursery (pictured below) to propagate plants to be placed in the gardens. The gardens current house 30 thousand plants, with new additions created and acquired every day.

Another spot is one of their newest sponsorship sites, visually reflecting Ventura’s mission-era historical roots. This site was sponsored by long-time garden volunteers Terry and Candy Sommers.

One-hundred and thirty olive tree saplings have been planted at the gardens. With 40 different horticultural varieties, these plants will provide conservation and research opportunities. The gardens also have new Torrey, bishop, Monterey and foothill pine saplings. The bishop and Torrey pines species are threatened and vulnerable, respectively, due to habitat loss, fire and the bark beetle. These bishop saplings will hopefully produce seeds to replenish wild populations.

To see these sites for yourself, visit the Ventura Botanical Gardens website to plan your visit.

Oxnard-area Boys & Girls Clubs raises over $5M to help with science-related career paths

The Ventura County Community Foundation is so proud to have supported the major capital campaign of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Exceeding its goal to raise $5 million by about $80,000, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme thanked donors and club leaders at a reception Tuesday for their contributions toward building science, technology, engineering, art and agriculture, and math centers at each of its four club locations in Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Nyland Acres.

Welcome Malena McKaba!

Malena McKaba is the Scholarship Administrative Assistant at VCCF. Born and raised in Southern California, she believes in the importance of expanding equity, both locally and globally. As a recent student herself, she knows the importance of being able to afford a quality education and is looking forward to helping students navigate the scholarship process.

Power of Community

Good News from YOUR Ventura County Community

Climate First, Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG)
“Your Climate Watchfrog on the Central Coast”

VCCF will be participating in the 2021 California Clean Air Day on October 6. California Clean Air Day is built on the idea that shared experiences unite people to action to improve our community health.

VCCF has taken the pledge and will commit to helping Ventura County by planting a tree on Clean Air Day. Click here if you would like to take the pledge and see what small changes you can make to improve the air quality of your community.

One local nonprofit participating in this year’s event is Climate First, Replacing Oil and Gas. First established in 2014 as a climate “watchfrog” organization to monitor oil and gas operations in the county, CFROG envision a future with clean energy, protecting the health of the community, air, land, and water. They advocate for a positive change towards a fossil-free Ventura County to work towards clean power, green jobs, and environmental justice, combatting environmental racism that brings pollution communities of color.

Just a few of their current campaigns include halting the expansion of a natural gas compressor in a low-income Latinx community directly across from a local elementary school, dedicating $9 billion to clean up 33 abandoned wells alongside state agencies, and partnering with CSUCI to build an environmental advocacy and education program for junior and high school students this fall.

CFROG, as well as West Side Clean Air and other community members, protesting the expansion of the gas compressor outside E.P. Foster Elementary School

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