OVER A DECADE
In October, Impact100 Sonoma will kick off its 2021 Membership Drive with a series of casual online new member recruitment events to introduce prospective new members to its vision of a thriving Sonoma Valley.
Impact100 Sonoma is a women’s collective grant-making organization. Since its founding in 2009, Impact100 Sonoma has granted almost $2.7 million to nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley, making it one of the Valley’s largest funders. The concept of Impact100 Sonoma is simple: one woman + $1,000 = one vote. Shared memberships are available, as well as scholarship programs. One hundred percent of every membership donation is used to fund grants each year.
Impact100 Sonoma, a women’s collective giving organization, held two “State of our Union” meetings for members and guests to announce its new grantmaking strategy for 2021 on September 29 and 30. Recognizing the challenges faced by nonprofits as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Impact100 Sonoma will award “Impetus Grants” of up to $25,000 in 2021, to provide funding related to strengthening nonprofit organizations’ core missions and support them on the road to long-term recovery and resilience.
In May, Impact100 Sonoma formed a 2021 Grants Task Force to assess the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on Valley residents and nonprofits. It sought input from a wide range of local nonprofits and explored approaches being taken by similar funding organizations. The Task Force found that Valley nonprofits will need immediate relief and increased flexibility in order to stretch their funding through 2021, and determined that the Impetus Grants Model would provide the best response to current needs, spread funds for maximum effect, and allow for flexibility as conditions evolve.
Applicants for the Impetus Grants will be required to explain their response to the pandemic and how they have pivoted to fulfill their mission, show financial stability, use the grant funds to build long-term sustainability, and have a plan to demonstrate the impact of the grant funds. Impact100 Sonoma is committed to reducing the burden on applicants, allowing grantees to adjust their objectives as conditions change, and continuing to trust the Valley’s nonprofits to decide what they need and how to best serve the community in this unprecedented time. The Impetus Grants will be awarded for 2021 only, and Impact100 Sonoma members will vote on and award the grants by March 31, 2021.
On September 29 and 30, Impact100 Sonoma hosted our “State of Our Union” virtual meetings to announce our 2021 grants strategy. In our Spring 2020 Member Survey, members prioritized long-term nonprofit organization sustainability and a willingness to evolve grant-making to meet changing needs. The timing was certainly right. Over the summer, our Grants Task Force assessed the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, and considered our community, similar funders and nonprofit organizations in developing our strategy for grant-making in the time of Covid-19. The Task Force determined that Sonoma Valley nonprofits need timely and flexible relief to stretch their funding through 2021.
If you missed one of our Virtual Meetings, you can find a copy of the presentation HERE
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.
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.
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
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.”
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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