Montecito Bank & Trust Donates $1 Million to Nonprofits at Annual Community Dividends Luncheon

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Thanksgiving week kicked off Monday with Montecito Bank & Trust’s 21st annual Community Dividends luncheon event, where bank officials showed their gratitude by giving back to local nonprofit organizations that give all year long.

Since the tradition was created in 2003 by the bank’s late founder, Michael Towbes, awards totaling $1 million are given to local nonprofits each year, with the highest honor being the Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend that was created in 2019. 

This year, 195 nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were represented, and the recipients of the Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividends — who each received $50,000 — were Children’s Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara County and Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association.

“These organizations are meeting critical needs of our most vulnerable community members and we’re expanding our support to help them meet their missions,” said Janet Garufis, Montecito Bank & Trust president and CEO. “When we created the Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend, our hope was to honor Mike’s legacy by providing meaningful financial support to specific programs so that the organizations meeting those programs would in turn have a meaningful impact on our community.”

Anne Towbes, widow of Michael Towbes, said that, through its Childcare Expansion and Steps to Licensing Program, Children’s Resource and Referral will recruit, train, and provide technical assistance and grants to 30 family childcare providers, with an emphasis on low-income, underrepresented women. She added that the program will create 30 new jobs and 240 newly available childcare spaces in the county.

“Children’s Resource and Referral is dedicated and determined to advocate for inclusive, quality, accessible childcare by developing countywide systems, building best practices for important, valuable, and vulnerable people in our community — the children,” said Jacqui Banta, Children’s Resource and Referral chief operating officer.

“The Michael Towbes Community Impact award equips us to create hundreds of new childcare spaces, ensuring the parents can remain or reenter the workforce confident that their children are safe, and children can be nurtured to enter kindergarten ready.”

The award for Livingston Memorial Visiting Association will support its Grief and Bereavement Program, as well as its Latinx/Hispanic Capacity Building Program. Towbes said that Livingston Memorial Visiting Association’s approach for this includes cultural competency training, a steering committee for equitable care access, bilingual and bicultural care teams, and culturally sensitive outreach and engagement strategies.

For the 20th Community Dividends event last year, Montecito Bank and Trust doubled its total donation amount to $2 million, and five nonprofit organizations received the Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend, each receiving $100,000 — CommUnifyPeople’s Self-Help HousingDoctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street MedicinePacific Pride Foundation, and the Arc Foundation of Ventura County.

“This award has enabled us to expand our family self-sufficiency program, which provides a variety of services including intensive case management, financial literacy, and employment counselling,” said CommUnify CEO Patricia Keelan. “We’ve been able to serve 36 families, 100% of them have secured stable housing and continue to maintain that housing after a 90-day period.”

People’s Self-Help Housing said it was able double the capacity of its College Club, which helps students prepare for higher education with application assistance, financial aid navigation, career exploration, campus visits, and continuing mentorship. The program used to support 22 students, but now it can support 49 students.

Similarly, the Arc Foundation of Ventura County was able to expand its employment program — which was previously only available to people age 22 and above — to include people ages 16 to 21, creating student and parent awareness, adding new employers, and providing job training and paid internships.

“Pacific Pride Foundation has made a commitment to becoming a fully bilingual organization by 2024,” said Kristin Flickinger, Pacific Pride Foundation’s executive director. “Anyone who wants to access our programs, our services, or interact with us in any way can do it both in English and in Spanish. We’ve been able to really supercharge that effort. Now we have staff who are bilingual and bicultural in all parts of our team, we’ve been able to translate our website, publications, communications, our annual report.”

Flickinger also said that Pacific Pride Foundation provides bilingual LGBT counseling. 

Santa Barbara Street Medicine Executive Director Marguerite Sanchez said that the organization has been able to hire a full-time case manager, purchase points of contact testing, upgrade its telemedicine program, and update its electronic medical record programs.

“All of this would not have been possible if we had not received this funding,” Sanchez said.

Other nonprofit organizations that received community dividends this year include 195 organizations providing services in arts and culture, youth and education, social services, health and medical, and more.