Ten groups vie for city grants

SOLANA BEACH — Ten organizations are seeking a total of $44,000 to $48,000 from the Community Grant Program, which “officially” has $25,000 available to fund nonprofit, nongovernmental groups and civic or youth organizations serving Solana Beach and its residents.

But with help from additional sources all requests might be fully funded.

Coast Waste Management and EDCO Waste and Recycling Services, the city’s two waste haulers, each contribute $5,000 and $15,000 comes from the city’s general fund.

For the past few years Santa Fe Christian Schools has provided $15,000 in monetary and in-kind donations, primarily for programs in Eden Gardens. This year the Solana Beach private school committed $10,000.

That money could go to La Colonia de Eden Gardens, which is seeking $5,000 to help fund a one-week summer leadership and life-skills camp, or the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, which requested $5,000 to provide no-cost enrichment activities for at-risk and disadvantaged Latino youth through the La Colonia Clubhouse.

The Community Resource Center asked for $5,000 for Holiday Baskets, an annual distribution program that provides a dignified and free “shopping experience” for families who might otherwise receive nothing for the holidays. It will take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in December.

The Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito requested $3,000 to buy shoes and socks for up to 75 preschoolers at St. Leo’s Head Start.

“While it’s really difficult to come up with an exciting presentation about shoes and socks for little preschoolers … it’s a worthwhile and very exciting program and one that’s really needed in our community,” Roberta Waterman, Assistance League board president, said.

“Some of these children … have never been in a store to buy brand new shoes.”

Councilwoman Jewel Edson helped with the shopping event last year.

“I was really impressed,” she said.

Casa de Amistad is seeking $5,000 to implement its Dreams + Tech initiative, which will increase the time low-income students, from preschool through high school, will have to access design, research, engineering, art, math, science and technology activities outside of school.

The grant money, which will be used to recruit and train volunteers currently working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, will help “close the digital divide that exists in our community by making technology accessible to all students and parents,” according to the application.

The program was added because homework has changed significantly over the past few years, with many elementary school students spending more time accessing web-based learning, the application states.

But many may not have access to laptops, computers or iPads at home, program director Deanna Wolf said.

If its grant request is approved, North County Immigration and Citizenship Center will use the $5,000 to help low-income, eligible applicants become citizens.

Linda Martinez Haley, the organization’s executive director, said last year’s grant helped 23 people — some who had been in the United States for 25 years or more — successfully through the process.

She said most tell her they waited so long because they did not have the money or know where to go.

Reality Changers would use the requested $5,000 for its College Apps Academy, which will guide approximately 25 low-income youth through a yearlong course that will help them with applications for college, financial aid and scholarships.

North Coast Repertory Theatre is seeking $5,000 to help children in need participate in the theater’s school’s production of “The Secret Garden” this spring.

For the past few years council members have authorized the Public Arts Commission to fund NCRT’s grant requests. Mayor Mike Nichols said that will likely be done again this year.

All these organizations previously applied for and were awarded funds from the grant program.

The American Association of University Women, one of two first-time grant applicants, is seeking between $1,000 and $5,000 for its Tech Trek STEM camp.

Each $1,000 will pay for one middle school girl to attend a weeklong summer camp at the University of California San Diego. The program goal is to increase the number of females who study and later pursue careers in STEM.

The Solana Beach Civic & Historical Society would like $5,000 to begin converting archived documents such as scrapbooks and newspaper articles about Solana Beach. Many of these items are beginning to deteriorate and are not available for public viewing.

“They’re all great deserving programs I’m sure we’d all love to fund to the fullest extent,” Nichols said.

With a combined $15,000 from Santa Fe Christian and the Public Arts Commission, the city is only $8,000 short of being able to do so.

Edson asked if that could be done “since we did seem to have a pretty good year last year.”

“I think there’s probably a way to do that, and we can talk about that,” Nichols said.

If council members decide to supplement the program, it won’t be the first time they will have adjusted the amount of money available. For a few years beginning in 2010, when the economy was weaker, they reduced the city’s donation to the program.

Unless council decides to fully fund all requests, the recipients will be announced at the Dec. 13 meeting.

Beginning in 2018 the grant cycle will coincide with the fiscal year — July through June — because under the current system, during an election year, different council members may analyze applications and hear presentations while others allocate funds.

Accordingly, the next round of applications will be due in June, with awards granted in July.

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