The Fund for Santa Barbara

Apply for a Grant



The Fund for Santa Barbara has several grant-making programs.

  • If you are interested in the Youth Making Change Grant Program, please click here for details
  • If you are intersted in the Emerging Need Grant Grant Program, please contact Director of Grantmaking Elena Richardson at (805) 962-9164 or
  • If you are interested in the Donor Advised Grant programs, please contact Executive Director Marcos Vargas at (805) 962-9164 or
  • If you are interested in the General Fund (Spring & Fall Grant Cycles), please read below


The Fund was established as a community foundation in 1980 by a group of individuals who shared a vision of a just and humane society offering people an alternative concept in philanthropy. The Fund is dedicated to finding solutions to current and emerging social problems and issues that challenge our society as a whole. Since its inception, The Fund has awarded over $5 million to more than 1,000 projects.

The Fund believes that significant social changes ultimately require broad participation in a democratic control of all social and economic institutions. Historically, social conditions improve most dramatically when when people organize on their own behalf, form alliances with other like-minded people & organizations, and build coalitions to confront and change the conditions that have denied them access, equity, and justice.

The Fund gives preference to projects working to address the root causes of social, economic, environmental and political problems. The Fund provides seed grants to new grassroots projects, general support or project grants to small organizations, and targetted grants to larger, more established organizations.

We Invite Applications From Groups That:


  • Work against discrimination based on race, sex/gender, age, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, physical/mental ability, ethnicity, language, or immigration status;
  • Struggle for the rights of workers;
  • Promote self-determination in low income and disenfranchised communities;
  • Promote international peace and organize locally for a just foreign policy;
  • Working on improving the environment, especially organizing a constituency usually without access to decision makers;
  • Operate in a democratic manner, responsive to and directed by the constituency being served.

We Do Not Fund:


  • Projects involved in electoral campaigns on behalf of candidates or parties;
  • Private (vs. public) interests;
  • Direct labor organizing;
  • Projects located outside of Santa Barbara County;
  • Projects providing direct services without a social change component;
  • Direct support to individuals, capital ventures, or building improvements.

Affirmative Action considerations are among the criteria used in all funding decisions.


The Fall 2016 Funding Cycle is now open.

Fall 2016 Funding Cycle Schedule

Request For Proposals / Applications Available: Monday, August 1st, 2016

Deadline for Proposal Review: Tuesday, September 6th at 5:00 p.m. (please see application for details)

Free Grant Application Workshops:

  • Santa Barbara: Tues, Aug 9th @ Orfalea Downtown Center (1221 Chapala Street)
  • Carpinteria: Wed, Aug 17th @ Carpinteria Library Multipurpose Room (5141 Carpinteria Avenue)
  • Santa Maria: Thurs, Aug 25th @ Community Cornerstone Room (120 East Jones Street)
  • Lompoc: Tues, Aug 30th @ Dick DeWees Community Center (1120 W Ocean Avenue)Santa Barbara: Feb 4th 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Orfalea Downtown Center (1221 Chapala Street)

Please RSVP by calling (805) 962-9164, emailing or clicking to reserve a seat.

Application Deadline: Friday, September 9th, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.



Below are the Fund for Santa Barbara Application Packets for the Spring 2016 Grant Cycle in English and Spanish:

  • For a pdf copy of the Application Packet in English click here.

  • Para obtener una copia PDF de la Solicitud de la Beca, haga clic aquí.

For your convenience, the following links will take you to MS Word.doc versions of the application. These versions may be downloaded and completed on your computer, but signed hard copies must be submitted by the deadline:

  • For a word version of the Grant Application, click here.
  • Para obtener una copia en MS Word de la Solicitud de Beca , haga clic aquí.


*NOTE: The Fund for Santa Barbara does accept the Common Grant Application, but ONLY if you contact staff first by calling (805) 962-9164.

Amount of Funding Available
The maximum award for each individual project is $10,000. The average grant is approximately $6,500.

Technical Assistance
Our Grant Making Committee strongly encourages applicants to attend one of our free Grant Application Workshops held during each funding cycle and to call the office to take advantage of staff assistance before you write your grant proposal.

Repeat Funding
We do accept requests for repeat funding of projects. Such proposals must include detailed information about the outcome of the previous grant, how further financial assistance would advance the goals of the original proposal, and in-depth analysis of the successes and failures of the original grant.

Tax Exempt Status
The Fund for Santa Barbara will accept grant applications from groups regardless of their tax-exempt status as long as their activities clearly fall within IRS tax-exempt guidelines. Fiscal sponsorships are acceptable, but not required.

How to Apply for a Grant
1. Contact us at by phone at (805) 962-9164
2. Consider attending a Grant Application Workshop to receive more information and support.
3. Return a completed application in person by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 4th, 2016.

Submitting Your Application
When submitting your application please expect to be in the office for 30 minutes. At this time staff will review your application to assure it is complete. Please do not submit your application with any additional folders, envelopes, or the like. One original copy is required, plus one unstapled copy. Please submit single-sided.

Multi-Year Grant Program
The Fund For Santa Barbara will be accepting applications for our Multi-Year Grant Program during the Spring Cycle only. Please call (805) 962-9164 for a pre-application and guidelines. The Multi-Year Grant Application is different than the regular cycle grant so any interested applicants must first contact the FUND office.

Emerging Need Grants
Projects that need immediate financial assistance and could not meet the deadline for our regular Fall or Spring Grant Cycle due to extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances may be eligible for an Emerging Need Grant.
We do not consider poor planning, cash flow problems, depletion of funds or insufficient fund-raising efforts to be grounds for an Emerging Need Grant.

Donor Advised Grants
The Fund for Santa Barbara also manages a limited number of Donor Advised Funds focused on social justice work. These grants are not available through the regular application process.