OVER A DECADE
On August 25, Karin Demarest, Vice President for Community Impact for the Community Foundation Sonoma County, presented an update on the state of nonprofits in Sonoma County for Impact members, guests, and local nonprofit leaders. Since the October 2017 wildfires, Karin has devoted her time to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, which CFSC launched to support the community’s long-term disaster recovery and resilience. Karin began her discussion with a general overview of the shifting and rising needs of the community and the declining resources of its nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The needs include not only basics such as food and shelter, but also support for mental health, childcare, environmental issues, racial and ethnic equity, and the “digital divide” impacting many students’ ability to participate in distance learning. Impact members also learned from Karin and the participating nonprofit leaders ways we can help nonprofits and the community to recover and build resilience in the face of disaster. One of her key takeaways was the need for unrestricted funding that allows nonprofits to pivot rapidly as situations evolve.
Karin’s PPT deck can be found HERE. Feel free to share it.
The Board of Directors of Impact100 Sonoma shares in the grief and anger that has erupted in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black people and people of color in our country. We join with the chorus of people and organizations proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, now and always.
We believe that injustice, inequality and structural racism exist everywhere, including in Sonoma Valley. We believe, though, that these social problems are solvable if we invest in solutions and equip ourselves to dismantle the systems and structures that allow them to thrive.
It is not enough to not be racist, we must be actively anti-racist.
The first step to becoming anti-racist is to be educated in the history and persistence of racism and our complicity in the perpetuation of injustice. To that end, the Board of Directors of Impact100 Sonoma will undergo training this summer in implicit bias and diversity, equity and inclusion. We will make this training available to all of our members at a future date. And our hope is to find a way to make training available to nonprofit boards of directors within Sonoma Valley. These are steps that affirm our commitment as an organization to being part of the solution.
As members of Impact100 Sonoma, we join together to leverage our collective impact against racism because we believe that alone we can do good, but together we can do better. Let’s do better.
Impact100 Sonoma is a member of the national women’s collective giving network Philanos, which has assembled a variety of resources for members to learn more about anti-racism. Click here to access those resources.
The Board of Directors of Impact100 Sonoma
Mary Jane Stolte
Lynne Lancaster, Co-President of Impact100 Sonoma joins Sonoma Brain Trust on Youtube to talk about the Needs of the Non Profits in Sonoma Valley and how their needs have changed during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In light of the current coronavirus crisis, Impact100 Sonoma has suspended its traditional grant review process and instead opted to divide the pool of $303,000 equally among all grant semi-finalists. The move is intended to directly benefit the local Sonoma Valley nonprofit community, many of whom are serving frontline roles in providing immediate relief and basic necessities to the hard-hit community. In all, 23 organizations will each receive $13,170 in unrestricted funds, which may be used as the organizations see fit, not necessarily for the program or project for which they originally applied (full list included below).
While this is an unprecedented move for the 11-year-old organization, Grants team member Dana Simpson-Stokes believes it is very much in keeping with Impact100’s focus on “trust-based philanthropy,” which recognizes that nonprofits themselves are best-positioned to make decisions about what they need, and will do so wisely. Simpson-Stokes said, “In Sonoma Valley, we are uniquely poised to apply this concept because we are a small community and our local nonprofits are well-known to us.”
For an organization that prides itself on the simplicity of its “one woman, one vote” concept, the decision to distribute the funds without a vote of the full membership on a slate of finalists was not taken lightly. As Co-President Lynne Lancaster remarked, “We gave this long and thoughtful consideration. We truly believe in the democratic philosophy of our giving group; however, we wanted the money to be available very quickly, and it would have been nearly impossible to vote on proposals that were written before this pandemic. Ultimately our dedicated board came to this decision, and we hope our members will be proud of the impact their funds will have by making these exceptional trust-based gifts during this challenging time.”
With one out of every three of its 303 members serving on a Grant Review Committee, Impact100 traditionally engages in a thorough vetting process of paper screening, financial review, site visits, committee nomination, and finally a vote by the full membership on a slate of finalists. Early last month, the Grant Review Committees had reached the third stage, with candidates identified for site visits. However, it quickly became apparent that this process would not be able continue given the widespread disruption and the shelter-in-place order. While reviewing all available options for proceeding with the distribution of $303,000, the Grants team made the final recommendation to divide the funds among the candidates identified for site visits. Co-President Claudia Sims praised the careful deliberation of the Grants team, saying “this situation is without precedent, but our team thought of everything and we’re grateful to them and to the 23 organizations we’ve entrusted with our funds.”
Those 23 organizations are:
· 10,000 Degrees
· Audubon Canyon Ranch
· Becoming Independent
· Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)
· Jack London Park Partners
· Kid Scoop News
· La Luz
· North Bay Children’s Center
· On the Move
· Pets LifeLine
· Social Advocates for Youth
· Sonoma Ecology Center
· Sonoma Land Trust
· Soroptimists International Sonoma
· Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS)
· Square Peg
· Sonoma Valley Education Foundation
· Sonoma Valley Mentoring
· Sweetwater Spectrum
· Teen Services Sonoma
· Transcendence Theatre Company
· Valley Vibes Orchestra
· Vintage House
Members of Impact100 were sent a detailed FAQ with more information about the process, and they were invited to attend Q & A sessions with the Grants Oversight Chair and Co-Presidents to answer any lingering questions that remain.
There are two new initiatives happening in Sonoma Valley that we want our members to know about as we face the current coronavirus crisis together:
We hope everyone is safe and healthy as we practice social distancing and get through this together.
Putting its 2019 Community Grant of $19,500 to work, Community Matters has implemented its Safe School Ambassadors® Program (SSA) in three Sonoma Valley schools. SSA is a youth-led and delivered program that trains students to stand up and speak up when they witness bullying and mistreatment, and to intervene in safe and effective ways to create a more welcoming, inclusive and safe school campus for all.
At Adele Harrison Middle School (AHMS), the SSA Program was inaugurated 17 years ago. Through community funding, including support from Impact100 Sonoma, the program is now ingrained in the school culture, providing a common language for students and teachers and a space for open communication between administrators and students. Currently, 41 AHMS students participate in the program, more than 10% of the school population. The Ambassadors come from different grade levels and social groups and help influence their friends to make good decisions. The program also provides leadership opportunities for Ambassadors. The Ambassadors help other students on campus understand common terms and language to identify mistreatment, promote SSA by teaching intervention skills in small groups, and host No One Eats Alone days and Be the Change Rallies.
Recently, an Ambassador described to the Program Advisor how he helped another student feel comfortable. The student was wearing their sweatshirt hood in class because they were embarrassed about a new haircut. The Ambassador told the student he liked their hair and empathized with them about how hard it is to come to school with a new haircut not knowing how people will react. At break, the Ambassador noticed that the student was no longer wearing the hood and felt excited that he was able to help the student feel more comfortable. Little acts like these happen regularly thanks to the AHMS Ambassadors, and the ongoing thoughtful gestures add up to make a big and positive difference in the campus culture.
The administrators at Adele Harrison have remained strong proponents of Safe School Ambassadors over the years because the program empowers students to be change agents. “That’s where we’ve seen so much impact,” commented Adele Harrison Program Advisor Kim Bellach. “Specific tools that help students feel confident empower them to be the voice.”
Safe School Ambassadors® is a program of Community Matters, a nationally recognized leader in bullying prevention, school safety efforts and school climate improvement, serving schools in 40 states and 5 countries. To date, over 100,000 students have been trained in 2,000 schools.
On September 23, a benefit screening of Seeing Brave” was held at the Sebastiani Theatre, co-sponsored by Impact100 Sonoma, G3 Sonoma and Sonoma Valley Newcomers. The Emmy-nominated documentary tells the inspiring story of three women doing remarkable philanthropic work around the world. The film profiles Sonoma’s own Anna Bimenyimana, who owns the Bon Marché thrift shop,using proceeds from her shop’s sales and donations to fight malnutrition in her native Rwanda. Rwanda is still recovering from the trauma of the Tutsi genocide 25 years ago, in which many of Anna’s relatives perished.
Other women featured in the film include Leah Missbach Day, who co-founded World Bicycle Relief following the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and Syrian native Lina Sergie Attar, who founded the Karam Foundation for refugee children in response to the horror of witnessing her hometown of Aleppo being bombed beyond recognition in the brutal ongoing Syrian civil war.
After the screening, G3 Sonoma’s Michelle Dale led a Q&A with Anna about her life and her efforts on behalf of the Rwandan people through Bon Marché and Gardens for Health International (GHI). The Rwandan nonprofit GHI teaches families to farm organically and to cook nutritious meals in a country where 35% of the children under age five are chronically malnourished. Since 2006, Bon Marché has raised $400,000 for its charitable work from sales of gently used clothing and household goods, which in turn help some of the neediest families in Sonoma. “Every day, wake up with purpose in life,” Anna told the Sebastiani audience, “Don’t be afraid to shine.”
Before the proverbial paint was dry, Art Escape put its 2019 $20,000 Community Grant to work, expanding its successful Teen Art Lounge to two Fridays per month from August 2019 through July 2020. Though 20 participants is considered a full session, 21 showed up the first week, then 26 the next. The program is off to a great start.
Creating “Puzzle Boxes” was a new artistic challenge offered, using bookboard, acrylic sheet, book cloth and Japanese hole punches to create the boxes. Teenager Peyton described her experience saying, “When making a puzzle box I learned that having the right measurements and planning ahead can really help when creating a project and make it easier. Learning that skill is already coming in handy with school projects and in classwork.” Many of the teens also expressed their appreciation to have time away from the pressures of home life and teenage responsibilities.
Peyton continued, “One benefit of going to Teen Art Lounge is making friends. When I first started coming here I would come with my school friends, and tonight I decided to come by myself because I feel so comfortable here. Also, my artistic skills are growing. Learning new methods to create is also a really cool thing that I take away from Art Escape. I get to try out new materials that I don't have at home or school.” The chance to connect with other teens has been particularly helpful for several home-schooled students who, before attending Teen Art Lounge, felt they were without a community.
Some Art Escape teens have become assistant teachers, organizing materials and helping with classes, and several high school seniors have decided to pursue art related Senior Projects with Art Escape staff as their Senior Project mentors. “I think that Teen Art Lounge is a great program for Sonoma to have because it includes kids who aren’t always into regular activities,” Peyton concluded. “At Teen Art Lounge we can express our artistic abilities and also be around other types of kids – from different schools and who are different ages. Lots of kids like to spend their Friday nights at football games and at parties, but some of us have been looking for a place like this to feel like part of the community.”
At its 10th Annual Awards Celebration, Impact100 Sonoma gave its $100,000 Impact Grant to Sonoma Valley Community Health Center to fund its Sonoma Valley Vision Clinic. In honor of the organization’s 10th Anniversary, Impact100 awarded a grant of $50,000 to Vintage House to expand their program offerings. Since the founding of Impact100 Sonoma in 2009 the organization has awarded $2,386,000 dollars to nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley, making it one of the community’s largest funders.
Upon receiving the Impact Grant, Ryan Pocock, Director of Development and Outreach for Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, expressed his gratitude to Impact100 Sonomasaying, “Comprehensive vision services for Medi-Cal and uninsured patients do not currently exist in Sonoma Valley. Thanks to this grant, we will be able to provide vision services for thousands of Sonoma Valley residents.”
Co-President Lynne Lancaster opened the lively and well-attended event at Hanna Boys Center by welcoming members and their guests. She announced that in 2019, a record number of 319 women joined Impact100 Sonoma. With five shared memberships, and a one-time gift of $10,000 from Impact100 Sonoma’s reserve fund in honor of the 10th anniversary, that means Impact100 had a total of $324,000 in grant money to award to nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley.
Two Impact Grant Finalists, Pets Lifeline and Challenge Sonoma Adventures Ropes Course, each received unrestricted grants of $10,000. And eight additional organizations received $154,000 in Community grants ranging in size from $14,500 to $20,000:
Art Escape -- $20,000 to expand their Teen Art Lounge to every summer Friday and two Fridays a month during the 2019/20 school year.
Ceres Community Project -- $20,000 to prepare 5,500 organic medically-appropriate meals for 30 low-income families who have a seriously ill family member, and offer bi-lingual nutrition education and resources through the Community Health Center.
Challenge Sonoma Adventure Ropes Course, in collaboration with Sonoma Valley Youth and Family Services -- $14,500 to relocate and rebuild the four low elements (under 2 feet high) of the Ropes Course, used primarily by younger, less experienced students from the now-closed Sonoma Developmental Center to Hanna Boys Center.
Community Matters -- $19,500 for their Safe Schools Ambassadors program to train up to 120 student leaders and 18 adults at three public schools to become adept at defusing incidents of mistreatment and improve school atmosphere, attendance and performance.
Flowery Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, in collaboration with Flowery Elementary School -- $20,000 toward the installation of a new playground structure to replace the present damaged and rusty 30-year-old structure, giving students and the local community a safe up-to-date place to play and learn.
Legal Aid of Sonoma County -- $20,000 to provide on-site Sonoma Valley assistance to low-income families, seniors and immigrants threatened with eviction, price gouging and irresponsible landlords in order to keep them safely housed in our community.
North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council (NCRCDC)-- $20,000 to implement the Waste Wizard project at four local schools that have been on a waitlist. State law requires school districts to recycle organic wastes but does not provide funds to do so.
Teen Services Sonoma -- $20,000 to expand the proven Ready to Work (RTW) program to La Luz Center and Boys and Girls Clubs, increasing RTW courses from five to seven and providing services to 40 additional youth.
Over the past five months Claudia Sims (Grants Oversight), Mary Jane Stolte (Impact and Anniversary Grants), Margaret Grandy and Dana Simpson-Stokes (Co-Community Grants) led the process of narrowingapplications down to three finalists for the $100,000 Impact Grant, two finalists for the $50,000 10th Anniversary Grant, and 12 finalists for Community Grants. The finalists were selected after careful review by more than 75 Impact100 Sonoma members who served on financial and grant review committees. The grant recipients were selected by a vote of the entire Impact100 Sonoma membership.
Reflecting on the awards ceremony, Co-President Gera Vaz said, “We have so many deserving grant applicants it makes the process of deciding very difficult. But I’m very proud of our process of reviewing grants collaboratively, then taking a democratic vote to decide on our awardees. We just could not be happier in this, our tenth anniversary year, to be able to give away $324,000!”
The Annual Awards Celebration was sponsored by Union Bankwith other financial and in-kind contributions from Hanna Boys Center.
Impact100 Sonoma is a collective grant-making organization that brings together at least 100 women in a common purpose: to award an Impact Grant of $100,000 every year to a nonprofit organization serving Sonoma Valley. The organization’s mission is to empower women of Sonoma Valley to invest in a more sustainable nonprofit community through collective giving and responsible stewardship.
Impact100 Sonoma welcomes all women to join the organization. Information about Impact100 Sonoma can be found at www.impact100sonoma.org or by calling 707-939-5007.
Caption for photograph #1: (Impact Grant)
Sonoma Valley Community Health Center receives the 2019 Impact100 Sonoma $100,000 Impact Grant to fund its Sonoma Valley Vision Clinic. From left to right: Cheryl Johnson, CEO of Sonoma Valley Community Health Clinic; Ryan Pococh, Director of Development & Outreach at Sonoma Valley Community Health Clinic; Mary Jane Stolte, Impact Grant Chair.
Caption for photograph #2: (10th Anniversary Grant)
Vintage House receives the 2019 Impact100 Sonoma $50,000 10th Anniversary Grant to fund expansion of its program offerings. From left to right: Mary Jane Stolte, Impact Grant Chair; Priscilla Essert, Executive Director of Vintage House,;Claudia Sims, Grants Oversight Chair
Caption for photograph #3: (Community Grants)
Recipients of Community Grants of up to $20,000 celebrate their awards. From left to right: Dana Simpson-Stokes, Community Grants Co-Chair; Margaret Grandy, Community Grants Co-Chair; Sarai Obermeyer, Legal Aid of Sonoma County; Evie Facendini, Ceres Community Project,;Robert Smith, Challenge Sonoma Adventure Ropes Course; Oona Heacock, North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council; Thena Trygstad, ArtEscape; Kate Ortolano, ArtEscape; Becky Jo Peterson, Teen Services Sonoma; Esmeralda Sanchez-Moseley, Flowery Elementary School; Mary Hotaling, Community Matters.
Caption for photograph #4: (Impact Grant Finalists)
Impact100 Sonoma awarded its two $10,000 Impact Grant Finalist awards to Challenge Sonoma Adventure Ropes Course and Pets Lifeline. From left to right: Nancy King, Pets Lifeline; Cheryl Johnson, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center; Ryan Pocock, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center; Robert Smith, Challenge Sonoma Adventure Ropes Course.
Photography by Bari Williams
Members’ anticipation was high for the opportunity to tour The Lyon Ranch on May 9 – and every expectation was met and exceeded. Rob and Robin Lyon, our hosts and the founders of The Lyon Ranch, along with their daughter Linette, wove fascinating stories about the evolution of the 12-acre property and the lives of the 65 animals and birds who live there.
The Lyon Ranch is a nonprofit that rescues abandoned, ill or abused animals, including Asian camels, ocelots, servals, emus, donkeys, horses and miniature horses, African fox, bush babies (heard of that one?), alligators, dogs, cats, and many exotic birds. Ten of the animals have been trained for Animal Assisted Therapy (including the camels!) and the Lyons trailer them to hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, as well as to schools and corporations.
After touring the barn and various corals to meet some of the larger animals, members were guided to a large deck outside the Lyon’s home to enjoy wine and appetizers while Linette carried out various animals and birds for a meet and greet. How amazing to share a table with a 40-pound serval!
Many thanks for the wonderful afternoon go to the Lyon family for their generous welcome, and to members Tia Pierce, Hope Nisson and Member Engagement Chair Sandee Crisp for all their hard work.
OUR VISIONA Thriving Sonoma Valley
Empowering women of Sonoma Valley to invest in a more sustainable nonprofit community through collective giving and responsible stewardship
Impact100 Sonoma is a member of Philanos
Impact100 SonomaP.O. Box 1958
Sonoma, CA 95476
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