Laguna Beach women’s collective gives $100k to 5 Southern California nonprofits

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Impact Giving’s original board members from left to right: Karen Wilson, Elizabeth Gosselin, Carol Lindquist Olson, Susan Marx, Liz Landon, Ann Duncan Levy and Sam Dawson. Courtesy of Impact Giving

By Robin Pierson, Special to the Independent

A dozen years ago, a handful of Laguna women who wanted to amplify the effectiveness of their charitable donations to make positive social change, joined together to form Impact Giving, a collective women’s giving group. Instead of donating individually to nonprofits, they embraced the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go it alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

They pooled their resources, sought others to join them, and to date have given over $1.4 million to charities both local and global.

At its most recent grant giveaway on June 3, Impact Giving and its 100 partners, gave away $100,000 to five nonprofits. This year the recipients, vetted by and voted for by the groups’ members, were all local.

Elder Law and Disability Rights Center in Santa Ana, which has been on the forefront of pushing Orange County to find permanent solutions to homelessness, will use the $12,500 it received to help pay for another attorney to aid the homeless, low-income seniors and disabled people navigate the legal system. The nonprofit seeks to remove legal barriers to help those with limited resources get needed services, including housing.

Beyond Blindness will use its $20,000 grant to introduce underserved, visually impaired pre-school to high school seniors in Orange County, and their parents, to cutting edge technological tools to help them succeed in school. Some of the devices include screen readers that voice what’s on a computer screen along with magnifiers allowing those with limited vision to see materials.

WISEPlace in Santa Ana gives unaccompanied homeless women a safe place to live where they receive individualized services aimed at putting them on a path leading to secure housing, jobs and financial security. A $20,000 grant will fund the case management of 100 women in the nonprofit’s Steps to Independence program.

Just in Time Foster Youth of San Diego works to unwind foster kids’ trauma as they move into adulthood. A $22,500 grant will support the Rise to Resilience program designed to give young adults the tools to process trauma, build resistance along with emphasizing healthy living essentials like nutrition, sleep, exercise, healthy relationships and mindfulness.

Girls Inc. of Orange County’s $25,000 grant will allow up to 150 girls to participate in the nonprofit’s Meet the Workforce program. Girls will be matched with mentors in their field of interests with the aim of bolstering the participants’ confidence in their abilities to eventually get jobs paying livable wages. The bulk of the participants come from families who live below the poverty level, which in Orange County is less than $40,000 a year.

Impact Giving partners, nonprofits, and friends attending the virtual grant giveaway also donated an additional $25,000 to be split evenly between the other 10 finalists, which included several international charities. One recipient, Mother Miracle, is based in Rishikesh, India and will continue to provide education, meals and healthcare to 588 students and their families.

Another finalist, Concern America, will use the funds to continue to train locals in Chiapas, Mexico, to be nurse practitioners. With My Own 2 Hands will erect wash stations in rural Kenyan villages to improve hygiene in a region where the pandemic is uncontrolled.

Impact Giving partners selected the grant recipients, which are researched by committees also made up by members. All the members then vote for their favorite finalists.

Community members interested in supporting nonprofits working to improve people’s lives locally and globally are welcome to become members. Dues are $1,250 annually or $780 per year for members under 40 years old. To learn more about joining the group, contact [email protected]

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