Reimagining the Nonprofit Funder Dynamic

How might we create a more proactive, open dialogue between nonprofits and funders in order to invite greater understanding and collaboration? What would it look like to reimagine the nonprofit funder relationship in order to advance greater capacity building for organizations and community leaders?

COVID-19 has affected communities across the world in unprecedented ways. As we all faced times of global uncertainty, the implications and economic fallout hit hardest upon small rural communities, early in the pandemic.

While most vulnerable to economic impact, small towns are often also blessed with an overwhelming social fabric and a sense of togetherness. In Cuyama Valley, the shutdown sent Blue Sky Center into action to reimagine resiliency for their rural community.

Throughout the pandemic, Blue Sky has worked with Cuyama Valley organizations and businesses to create a comprehensive and nimble community response — including the Victory Gardens, the creation of a “hotline” website to provide community updates and resources, a relief fund providing breakfasts for school-age children, transportation for food bank contributions, and providing no-interest, delayed-repayment loans directly to individuals to help cover essential household costs.

During Partnership for Excellence, you’ll hear from Blue Sky Center’s Em Johnson, in conversation with The Fund for Santa Barbara Foundation’s Patricia Solorio, to learn how Blue Sky’s Victory Gardens pandemic project catalyzed a grant revision, elevated language justice and community leadership, and inspired deeper trust and understanding in this nonprofit-funder relationship. 

Em Johnson

Executive Director
Blue Sky Center

Through measured and deliberate work, Em has been leading rural innovation through social enterprises and systems thinking with Blue Sky Center since 2016. She is motivated by holistic community investment that uses celebratory tools of art and creative community engagement, often bringing people together over food. In the Cuyama Valley, Em connects people to resources, developing a self-sufficient model by blending entrepreneurial initiatives to reclaim the power of rural resiliency.

Patricia Solorio

Associate Director
The Fund for Santa Barbara

A native of Santa Maria and mother of two, Patricia has served as senior program and management staff with the Central Coast Future Leaders over the last 12 years, including her role as Executive Director since 2016. As a bilingual and bi-cultural community leader, Patricia has a profound understanding of the communities of North County.

She has worked with CCFL, and held leadership roles in many local community actions and initiatives, including her service on the FUND’s Grant Making Committee and annual North County Tardeada event. Among her numerous recognitions, in 2016 Patricia received the Working Families Award from the Santa Barbara County Action Network for her many efforts to improve the lives of working families in the region.

Registration Deadline: Friday, October 15, 2021

Your participation and perspective are welcomed to help ensure diverse and regional voices from our broad community.

Options for you to participate:

  • Register to attend PFE Community Connections on October 20
  • Volunteer to be a conversation host for a small group breakout
  • Consider an adaptation or lesson your organization/foundation realized that you are willing to reflect upon during the program (and maybe briefly share during a community conversation breakout session)

NOTE: You must register in advance to participate in any part of virtual PFE 2021

The Foundation Roundtable Sponsors

Audacious Foundation

James S. Bower Foundation

Patricia and Paul Bragg Foundation

Cottage Health

The Crawford Idema Family Foundation

G.A. Fowler Family Foundation

Hutton Parker Foundation

The Ann Jackson Family Foundation

La Centra Sumerlin Foundation

Linked Foundation

McCune Foundation

The Henry E. and Lola Monroe Foundation

Mosher Foundation

The Natalie Orfalea Foundation

June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust

Anthony and Kyra Rogers Family Foundation

Santa Barbara Foundation

The Santa Ynez Valley Foundation

The Towbes Foundation

United Way of Santa Barbara County

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara

PFE Volunteer Advisors

Gary Clark, Santa Barbara Foundation

Steve De Lira, Family Service Agency

Palmer Jackson, Jr., Ann Jackson Foundation

Joni Meisel, The Foundation Roundtable

Patricia Solorio, The Fund for Santa Barbara

Stanley Tzankov, CAUSE


Produced by Ruby Road Leadership with ZoomEvents hosting by Visionality, Inc.

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