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Rise Together Grants

Photo Credit: Community
Health Trust of Pajaro Valley

Rise Together Circle of Support Grants

The Rise Together Circle of Support Grants fund members’ dreams to advance our collective goals for racial equity. 


Rise Together invests in our members, our work, and our dreams from a foundation of trust and mutual support. We invest in each other to advance the Rise Together goals collectively in a spirit of passion and optimism for each members’ gifts, talents, needs, and strengths.

Each year, the Community Foundation lets the membership know the amount of funding available. Each member organization will automatically receive an equal investment in the year ahead. Members will learn about each other’s projects and continually hear updates on the work.


These grants are about more than money. We are building a trusted ecosystem of leaders supporting each other’s vision and working together to ensure each project’s success. And together, we are transforming philanthropy. 

2023 Rise Together Investments, totaling $320,000: 

Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT) 

To help Tribal Members’ travel expenses within Mutsun and Awaswas territories to enable participation in local events and Tribal events such as stewardship of Native plant gardens, tribal gatherings, and ceremonies. 


Aztecas Youth Soccer 

To support clubhouse rent, soccer equipment, uniforms, shoes, warm-ups, and league fees.  


Black Surf Club Santa Cruz  

To program capacity and help cover essential expenses such as staffing, storage space, and program costs. To promote mental, physical, spiritual, communal healing through surfing, education, advocacy, and wellness.  


CA Film & Cultural Center 

To support the film archive project, skilled teachers for Young Adult Film School, free meal deliveries and instruction, and facilitated groups, resources, and growth opportunities for youth and young adults identifying as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or neurodiverse.  


Campesina Womb Justice 

To prepare and fund campesinas to attend a Mixteco doula program to prepare them for offering support at Watsonville Community Hospital. The goal is to pay campesinas to attend the workshop and then to work in their communities as promotoras de salud integrating indigenous Mixteco maternal health knowledge and traditions.   


Community Action Board Santa Cruz County 

To support CAB emerging leaders of color by connecting them to professional coaches, writing coaches, leadership development opportunities, self-care strategies, and supporting their individual professional career pathways. We’ll invest in Leaders of color and leaders serving communities of color and elevate their confidence, leadership and ultimately increase how they impact the low-income community through their work. 


Estrellas de Esperanza   

To bring visiting folkloric dance teachers from Mexico to Watsonville and purchase outfits for the dances learned last year on the Rise Together funded trip to Veracruz.   


Housing Santa Cruz County 

To hold community conversations about affordable housing, increase storytelling efforts for fundraising purposes, and provide professional development support for staff.  


Positive Discipline Community Resources 

To sustain the ability to provide 100% free tri-lingual parent coaching and be of service to flood impacted Pajaro families with children 0-5 years old through advocacy and efforts (providing shared leadership through the Pajaro Disaster Long Term Recovery Alliance as well as participating in County led Pajaro Recovery and Resilience meetings). 


Santa Cruz Community Health Centers: to support the development of a Patient Advisory Council and the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity) team of the health centers to continue supporting BIPOC patients and staff.   


Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative 

To support staffing and data collection related to Youth Ambassadors programming and development. Funds will also go directly to outdoor SCCBHMI county and state park activities and data collection for adults in 2024.   


Santa Cruz Local 

To support Noticias Watsonville, the Spanish-language division of Santa Cruz Local's newsroom. In 2024, Watsonville area residents will vote for a county supervisor, city council representatives as well as local ballot measures. We want to make sure Spanish-speaking residents in the Pajaro Valley have free, nonpartisan, independent information about the candidates and measures. We will also inform residents how to participate in the election. We will press the candidates on the issues we hear from Pajaro Valley residents. 



To support the development of sustainability plans and projects to mentor the new executive director, professional development for our instructors, and leadership restructuring that is more reflective of our Indigenous values. 


Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center 

To provide operational and programming support during the build up to a major capital campaign for new dance studios to support the 6,500 program participants. 


UC Santa Cruz University Library – Community Archives Program 

To build trust and connection through programming to help preserve stories and community memory 


Watsonville Film Festival 

To support Cine Se Puede, a program for emerging Latine filmmakers, to hold workshops in the community, and provide and educational outreach opportunities. 

2022 Rise Together Circle of Support Grants, totaling $400,000:

Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT)
$14,400 To provide 25 weeks of wages for AMLT's first Food Sovereignty & Native Plant Steward, whose responsibilities include producing and distributing healthy, organic, and native foods to the Tribal community, providing education about those foods, and making progress towards the development of a new food sovereignty program.


Aztecas Youth Soccer
$22,500 To have continuous funding for the Club House- a safe space for health education, life-skills, tutoring, and mentoring.  


Black Surf Club Santa Cruz 

$22,500 General operating support, programs and resources that reduce barriers to outdoor spaces, water, and surfing for People of Color. To promote mental, physical, spiritual, communal healing through surfing, education, advocacy, and wellness. 


Campesina Womb Justice
$9,900 To start a Doula Program to train farmworkers to advocate and support each other through births. To offer womb care and personal hygiene kits, and small donations of money. For farm workers to exercise freedom to practice ancestral womb medicine, rooted in reproductive, menstrual, farmworker, healing justice. 


CA Film & Cultural Center
$13,500 For reorganizing as a community center encompassing film and cultural education including: Westside Video (YA Film School, screenings, biggest library in state), AAVE Cafe (community cooking show, barista training program), Mystery Coast Productions (Set School), and EDI Educators (diverse youth program, discussion facilitation, HR policy development, trainings and panels around gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, accessibility) all under one roof.


Community Action Board Santa Cruz County
$18,000 To help assess community needs and realities for those in poverty. To engage with voices of community members, pay a consultant of color to help design a plan, and support surveys, interviews, focus groups, to gather info and pay participants to be compensated for their time. This project will inform the next Community Action Plan -  a tool to help decision-makers respond to needs.

Digital NEST
$18,000 To provide youth in Watsonville and surrounding area with the skills to pursue careers in multimedia and to share positive stories of their community. To produce 5 short documentaries led by 3-6 youth per film. The curriculum will be brought to other regional NESTs.


Speak for Change Podcast & Everyone's Music School
$18,000 To jump start a Scholarship Program for BIPOC students, community classes and film production and expansion. To train teachers to open a new Watsonville location.


Housing Santa Cruz County
$18,000 To build capacity to promote and advocate for affordable housing while staying focused on maintaining the priority of DEI throughout Santa Cruz County. Assistance with general operating funds will help advance this priority, sustain leadership growth and development opportunities needed to serve the community in this capacity.


Positive Discipline Community Resources
$35,000  For a robust strategic planning process with Impact Launch allowing for growth as an effective Executive Director. Increasing ability to engage in root level systems change with a radical transformational leadership skill set. Partially support a Program Manager position for 1 year to support organizational capacity for sustainability and growth. 


Estrellas de Esperanza & Esperanza del Valle
$30,000 To provide an inter-generational, cross cultural experience for participants. 28 adult and student dancers will travel to Veracruz, Mexico to learn from master folklorica instructors. 


Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative
$13,500 To support staffing, curation of 2-3 events, and continued operations of BMHI. To support the improvement of the quality of Life for Black residents through culture, connection, programs, partnerships, events, space-making, and belonging activities. 


Santa Cruz Local
$18,000 For a part-time, temporary position to create bilingual news that addresses information needs of Latinos in Santa Cruz County.


$50,000  To compensate 5 Senderos Dance and Music teachers equitably for their time teaching (previously as volunteers).


Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center
$13,500 To expand the capacity and reach of the TWDCC Diaspora Performance Project beyond our current 6 selected cultural artists of the African Diaspora and community programming. Operative funding to allow TWDCC to establish a sustainable model to support our current cohort of artists while inviting more artists to join. Provide additional unrestricted stipends to support livelihood of artists outside of general operating support.


UC Santa Cruz University Library
$4,800 To provide payment to community members we work with, provide scanners and harddrives to community members so they can begin scanning materials they choose and host an event about the Amah Mutsun Land Acknowledgement with tribal members and other folks who assisted in writing it.


Watsonville Film Festival
$18,000 For the Cine Se Puede Fellowship which supports a cohort of emerging Latine filmmakers at any stage of their film project for one year. The program provides funding, mentorship, connections with industry reps, promotion and community!


Watsonville Campesino Appreciation Caravan
$13,500 To provide support during winter/non-work season to campesinos. For weekly appreciations, information packets, COVID safety messages, and gift cards for household essentials. Funds will help cover 100 gift cards of $150 when hardship for farmworkers is highest.


Healing Events 

$13,500 To put on a series of events that support community healing in wake of COVID-19 and economic impact on People of Color. Funds support the capture of storytelling from elders, pay participants on panels, provide food, and cover supply costs.


La Alianza Del Valle Pájaro
$5,000 For general operating support this organization that leads two of the largest cultural events in Watsonville: Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo. 


BBQueer Fest
$5,000 to compensate the performing artists and organizing leaders of BBQueer Fest - a Black, Brown, and Queer dance festival. 



$5,000 to sustain and empower the grassroots youth programming in the Beach Flats serving predominantly Latinx youth. Supporting free beach soccer, holiday and back to school drives, scholarship opportunities, snacks and supplies.


London Nelson Legacy Project
$5,000 to help fund year 1 of a 3-year project to research the history of London Nelson and other Black residents of Santa Cruz County. 


SC Equity Collaboration
$13,500 to help fund events and activities related to the restoration and maintenance of the Black Lives Matter mural.

Watsonville is in the Heart
$2,000 to support collaborative programs with the Community Archiving Programs for Watsonville is in the Heart in collaboration with the Tobera Project.

2021 Rise Together Circle of Support Grants, totaling $423,000:

CA Film & Cultural Center

$13,000 to support instructors and materials for Young Adult Film School and Set School for youth of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Watsonville Film Festival

$20,000 to launch Cine Se Puede Lab to bring resources, connections, and support to Latinx filmmakers at any stage of their project to realize their full potential. 

Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA)

$75,000 to hire a community organizer for Santa Cruz County to lead the COVID-19 recovery through training, mentoring, increasing leadership, and community


NAACP Santa Cruz County Branch

$47,000 to create a comprehensive suite of educational services for Black-identifying youth in Santa Cruz County including an incentivized mentoring program that offers leadership opportunities, academic and culturally appropriate programming to help students maximize their potential as rising professionals.     


$50,000 to hire the first paid leadership position supporting programming, fundraising, and Senderos’ longer term sustainability.


$21,000 for NESTcorps to continue creating youth-driven changes in their community by researching issues, developing strategies, and taking action that supports their community while also preparing them for future careers.

Community Action Board Santa Cruz County

$15,000 to develop an equitable human resources structure and hiring practices that center the values of communities of color and increase opportunities for leaders of color to grow.

United Way Santa Cruz County

$25,000 for United 4 Youth to organize a system of school and community partners to address gaps in opportunities and provide support for K-12 youth of color through mentorship, academic support, career readiness, health and wellness, and community engagement.

Mahala House Foundation

$15,000 to launch the "Moms in the Middle" pilot program providing direct grants and resources to single mother caregivers that identify as Black and/or Indigenous in Santa Cruz County and are experiencing financial hardship to reduce their income volatility, improve health, and support financial planning.

Aztecas Youth Soccer

$40,000 to secure a safe physical space for Aztecas youth to go for safety, belonging, connection, and support.

Watsonville Campesino Appreciation Caravan

$15,000 to share appreciation for farmworkers by providing food, water, gift cards, and information about community resources.

Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative, Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center

$40,000 for the Black Health Matters Initiative to build the staffing and programmatic infrastructure to support Black mental health through the arts and culture, community building, youth development and leadership.

Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance

$40,000 to support trauma-informed healing for youth through art therapy and a communal art project at PVPSA.

Estrellas de Esperanza

$7,000 for the youth Mexican folkloric dance group to expand the repertoire Bailes de Tabasco through dance lessons and performances.

If you feel moved to join in supporting these projects, please donate directly to the organizations leading this work. If you'd like to learn more about the grants' process, please read our blog. 

If you are excited to see Rise Together and our trust-based participatory grantmaking process grow,  please donate to the Rise Together Fund. 

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