SBCC Foundation continues to provide much-needed resources

David Sjostedt, Channels Staff

In the aftermath of the Montecito mudslides and the Thomas Fire, the SBCC Foundation continues to see success as City College students are receiving free tuition, books, and supplies.

“To me, what’s exciting about it is the creativity of what you can do with the resources given by the community,” Foundation CEO Geoff Green said.

Green presented the organization’s financial statement to the college’s board of trustees on Feb. 22, announcing that it brought in over twice as much money as it did this time last year. The foundation has about $65 million in assets, 40 million of which is invested cash that’s permanently restricted.   

The foundation’s growth has come in spite of the Thomas Fire’s devastating impact on the lives of many benefactors.

“People who lost their homes are major donors here,” Green said.

Still, the foundation found ways to provide care for those in need by funding programs such as the Bucket Brigade and the Santa Barbara support network. The foundation also reimbursed students forced to take other modes of transportation because of freeway closures.

“The community college and the foundation have been critical disaster recovery organizations, and that’s not often what people think of us as,” Green said.

The foundation is better known for funding scholarships, capital needs, buildings, and causes such as the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and Promise programs, which give students the opportunities and support to achieve a college degree regardless of their circumstances.  

Manuel Rea is one Promise student at City college.

“I didn’t really want to go to college until we heard about the Promise,” Rea said, “and then there was no excuse.”

The Promise program was implemented by Green in the fall of 2016 with the radical idea that the foundation could raise scholarship money to put every Santa Barbara student through city college. Since then, the foundation has spent around $2 million every year on the program, which allows 1500 students to attend City College for free.

The SBCC foundation serves as a private investment entity that supplements the school by collecting gifts from members of the community. The idea came from private universities that found that their greatest donations would come from alumni, Green said.

Once these private schools began seeing success with the method, countless institutions followed their lead. Although community colleges were relatively late in joining in, Santa Barbara City College is one of the earlier adopters of the funding strategy.

Green said that over time the foundation has built an engaged and robust group of community supporters that want to help the college.

“The community really appreciates the value of having a world class community college right in the heart of Santa Barbara,” Green said.