Solana Beach Fund to award $16,000 in grants to local organizations

Solana Beach Fund Grants Committee (L-R): Holly Smith Jones, Sharon Leib, Nancy King, Nancy Giberson, Ann Rybowiak, Monica Boyd, Laura Fleming and Marion Dodson. Not pictured: Holly Lewry and Kim Quinney.

By Kristina Houck

Five local organizations will receive more than $16,000 in grants during the inaugural Solana Beach Fund Grant Ceremony June 26 at Fletcher Cove Community Center.

After receiving 16 applications, members of the newly created Solana Beach Fund, which is part of the Coastal Community Foundation, decided to divide donations among the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito, Casa de Amistad, La Colonia de Eden Gardens, North Coast Repertory Theatre and San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

“There are a lot of people who want to do something to give back to their community, but don’t exactly know how,” said Sharon Omahen, who has served as executive director of the Encinitas-based Coastal Community Foundation for more than four years. “We hope this makes more people aware of philanthropy and how they make a difference in their own backyard.”

The Solana Beach Fund was launched in the fall, a project spearheaded by 17-year resident Laura Fleming. She and other founding members held focus groups to learn whether there was enough interest in creating a fund to support programs and projects that benefit the community.

In less than a year, locals donated about $18,000 toward the fund.

“I love Solana Beach, so, to me, the most obvious way was to get involved in my own community and try to get other residents involved,” said Fleming, who has served as a board member of the Coastal Community Foundation for two years. “I feel like we kind of do what we do, but we don’t cross paths enough. I learned there are so many people that have the same passion for Solana Beach and want to help and know more about what’s going on with the nonprofits in the area.”

In January, the foundation encouraged organizations to apply for a grant through the fund. By the end of the late March deadline, 16 local and regional organizations submitted applications.

The Solana Beach Fund Grants Committee was formed to sort through the applications, giving preference to organizations with budgets less than $2 million. The 10-member committee narrowed the field to seven applications and visited five sites before members made their final decisions.

“They were very excited by the site visits,” Fleming said. “I think it really made them feel empowered and more a part of the community through the experience.”

The Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito will receive a grant to support its after-school and teen mentoring program at the La Colonia Branch, which serves 63 elementary school children and 43 teens each week in Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community.

Casa de Amistad will receive a grant to support its science, technology, engineering and math tutoring services for low-income children.

La Colonia de Eden Gardens will receive a grant so residents of Eden Gardens can develop a community garden.

North Coast Repertory Theatre will also receive a grant to support “The Miracle Worker” production, which will be seen by school groups and the greater public.

Lastly, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy will receive a grant to support its Citizens Restoring Coastal Habitat program, which teaches volunteers about native habitat and restoration.

Grants range from $2,000 to $5,000.

The Solana Beach Fund is one of several managed by the Coastal Community Foundation. Founded in 1987 by former Solana Beach Mayor Margaret Schelsinger and former Encintas Mayor Anne Omsted, the Coastal Community Foundation creates a way to support arts and culture, education, the environment, health and social services in the North Coastal communities of Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside.

Donors, grant recipients and community members will gather 4:30-6 p.m. June 26 at Fletcher Cove Community Center in Solana Beach to celebrate the new Solana Beach Fund and highlight the work of the grant recipients.

“It really is fun to give, pull people around it and see the results,” said Omahen, an Encinitas resident. “It’s a nice feeling.”

For more information about the Solana Beach Fund and to donate, visit coastalfoundation.org.


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