Sonoma Land Trust wins $100k Impact grant tied to future of SDC land

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Impact 100 Sonoma on Saturday named the Sonoma Land Trust’s Sonoma Developmental Center Land Protection Project as the recipient of its $100,000 annual “impact grant.”

Impact 100 is a collective of local women who each make an annual donation of $1,000 with a goal to “impact the future of the community.” Each year the nearly 300-member group pools its resources to make a $100,000 impact grant toward a single nonprofit, in addition to smaller “community grants” to other organizations.

John McCaull, land acquisition program manager for Sonoma Land Trust, was thrilled, describing the SDC land as Sonoma’s Valley’s biggest asset.

“Over the next year and a half we’re all going to figure out together what to do about the Sonoma Development Center,” said McCaull. “We are your Land Trust – we are a tool of this community to protect land. When the time came to do something that is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Impact100 stepped up in a big way,” McCaull said at the June 10 event to announce the grants.

The Sonoma Land Trust had been in the running for the impact grant three years before, said McCaull. But no doubt the impending 2018 closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center played a far greater role in the decision now than it has previously.

The Land Trust’s winning proposal focused on proactive protection of SDC’s 700 undeveloped acres before the state shutters its facilities at the end of next year. The land serves as a vital wildlife corridor for mountain lions and other species feeling the squeeze from human development.

With SDC’s closure on the horizon, McCaull acknowledges that the Land Trust’s work has just begun. Community buy-in about protecting the public lands in Eldridge is essential for the Land Protection Project to succeed, and some of the grant money will be used to build public consensus. Still, $100,000 for the nonprofit is an enormous boon, and McCaull is both incredulous and grateful. “It’s a relief and a surprise,” he said of the grant. “Now we can do our work.”

Impact 100 is a “giving circle” style of philanthropy; chapters can be found in 31 American cities. Membership is open to all women 18 years or older who make a contribution of $1,000 per year.

Impact 100 Sonoma has a membership of 290 women, who collectively provided $290,000 in charitable funding last year for Valley nonprofits. Since its inception eight years ago, the organization has granted $1.76 million to local organizations, making it one of the Valley’s most significant funders.

Beginning in January, chairpersons Diana Sanson, Claudia Sims, Margaret Grandy, and Lynne Lancaster began the process of vetting the 38 original applications to narrow them to a short list of contenders. The three finalists — Sonoma Land Trust, La Luz, and Community Child Care Council (4C’s) — were then asked to make presentations in May.

The runners-up were both granted $10,000.

The remainder of Impact100 Sonoma’s 2017 funds, totalling $172,227, were awarded as Community Grants to the following nonprofit organizations:

10,000 Degrees – $20,000 to pilot a college awareness initiative for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and their parents at Altimira Middle School.

On The Move – $19,990 to expand its Parent University program (currently at El Verano and Sassarini elementary schools) to Flowery Elementary School, motivating parents to become engaged in their children’s learning.

Redwood Empire Food Bank – $20,000 to provide fresh produce and healthy staple foods for low-income residents of Sonoma Valley.

Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) – $20,000 to expand no-cost services to grieving youth in Sonoma Valley.

Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards – $10,000 to repair damage from erosion and overuse on Sonoma’s Overlook Trail.

Sonoma Valley Education Foundation – $20,000 to expand the Jump into Reading summer intervention program to improve reading proficiency for students in grades K-3.

Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance – $20,000 for its ongoing Road Map to Your Future program.

Teen Services Sonoma – $19,845 to expand its Ready to Work program.

Teen Services Sonoma – $14,344 to purchase equipment and supplies to up-grade its hospitality programs at TSS’s Lovin’ Oven and Sonoma Valley High School’s No Name Café.

Email Kate at kate.williams@sonomanews.com.

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