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h ig h l ig ht s

Donors change lives for good, for ever.

New year. New look. Resolve to visit the new Before you go, check out Page 15 for an intro to the completely redesigned site.

Winter 2010

Philanthropists who invest in endowment funds at the Ventura County Community Foundation create capital that provides opportunity for Ventura County residents in good times and in bad. This issue of Highlights features the ways generous donors have supported individuals and organizations through VCCF funds, funds that have and will benefit generations of Ventura County residents.

Photos by Jim Jenson

Left, Sergio A. Calix, a Moorpark High graduate, receives a scholarship award from the Ventura County Community Foundation Scholarship Grants Fund, established by VCCF staff and volunteers to provide scholarships to worthy Ventura County students who especially impress the selection committee. Center, Florence Gadbois embraces a winner of the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors Scholarship. Right, Carlos Espinoza, of Oxnard, and his mother, Irma Avila-Espinoza, celebrate Carlos’ receiving the Orfalea Health Field Scholarship.


A couple’s love of reading inspires a gift to the children of Port Hueneme and Oxnard. Page 4

Nonprofits form a creative collaboration to meet basic needs of residents rocked by recession. Page 12

• engagement • education • endowment • grants • scholarships

President’s Letter The power of legacies When we think of legacies, we might consider the auburn locks or distinctive chuckle we inherited from a parent or grandparent, or interests they ignited in us during childhood. We also contemplate the notion of legacies in less tangible ways – how our family history formed our view of the world and its politics, a place for religion, or our desire for community involvement or association with various organizations. For some, a legacy is the money that pays for school, or opened doors for children and grandchildren, or which helps fund charitable giving across the generations to reconfirm a family’s core values and beliefs. For others, it is a legacy established from the bounty and hard work of this life to help future generations meet the challenges of their lives. Legacies can be as varied as the donors who establish them, and can be a link to the past and a bridge to the future, a blessing or, perhaps, a burden. Each of us has experienced the legacies from our own families, and of the varied ways they carry into our sense of self and our potential for change. At VCCF, we look at legacies a bit differently, because we have the enormous privilege of ensuring legacies reach out to touch Ventura County’s future. Some legacies are established here to honor a person’s life work, or their passionate engagement with a place, profession or institution. Some legacies translate the promise of a life cut short – by accident, disease or circumstance – into an opportunity for someone else to pick up the baton, and carry on that promise in a different way, to a different place perhaps – but carry it on nevertheless. In these pages, we will introduce you to donors whose legacies keep their passions alive – through designated funds that benefit a particular nonprofit, a scholarship fund that extends to a new generation, a field of interest fund that gathers contributions to make a greater impact, or a particular cause like

preventing violence against women. Some bequests keep libraries full of books or seed investments in job skills or provide training and capacity building for the nonprofit sector. Each captures something unique about the donor, and his or her belief in something special here in Ventura County. Legacies come to VCCF in a number of ways: • In a bequest from a donor’s will, sometimes confirming discussions held over years and sometimes as a complete surprise; • In funds established during a donor’s lifetime, designed to carry philanthropic work into the future; • The remainder of a charitable gift annuity or other planned giving product negotiated by the donor, or; • A response to the death of a loved one, sometimes taken suddenly or far too early in a promising life. In each circumstance, VCCF accepts the obligation to ensure donor intent is carried out, either in specific directions stipulated or by addressing an issue of importance, or a cause near and dear to the donor. In some cases, the donor leaves the discretion to VCCF and its board, either to determine the highest priority or greatest need, or to align with whatever the board feels is the most effective way to distribute charitable funds to strengthen our region, or support a cause like health care or the arts. For a summary report of the last 10 years of VCCF’s Community Grantmaking, visit and look for grantmaking and its impact on local nonprofits. Legacies are precious gifts, ways we can create value and meaning long into the future. We are honored to have been chosen by so many to protect their legacies, and to introduce a new generation to the power of philanthropy to make a difference, for good for ever.

Hugh J. Ralston President & CEO

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.


VCCF endowments post positive returns, outperform benchmarks Performance Summary as of September 30, 2009 Endowment Portfolio

Policy Index*

Fiscal YTD



Last Year



Last 3 Years



Last 5 Years



Last 10 Years



Private Capital 6.0%

Domestic Fixed Income 26.1%


he investment portfolio of the Ventura County Community Foundation continued its rebound, up 12.6 percent in the Fourth Quarter of its fiscal year, President and CEO Hugh J. Ralston reported at the annual Open Investment Meeting at VCCF’s Camarillo headquarters in November. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the portfolio posted a 5.5 percent gain, up from significant losses when global financial markets hit historic lows in March 2009. The portfolio’s fiscal year-end results are also three times greater than the policy index of 1.7 percent, demonstrating VCCF’s long-term diversification strategies continue to provide additional value for its portfolio, Ralston noted. The policy index is used to compare a fund manager’s performance versus a blended benchmark of recognized indices, which mirrors the portfolio’s allocation of U.S. and international stocks and bonds.

Asset Allocation Summary as of September 30, 2009

Other Alternatives 13.0%

Portfolio rebounds, up nearly 13 percent in recent quarter

Domestic Equity 34.3%

International Equity 20.6%

Visit for more information on VCCF’s investment strategies.

“We believe risk-adjusted, diversified portfolios provide the best opportunity to achieve long-term growth over all other investment options, and the performance of this portfolio bears that out,” said Robert Katch, chair of the VCCF Investment Committee and member of the VCCF Board of Directors. “While we are naturally pleased at the results for this immediate past – and very challenging – year, we are also pleased to share the portfolio’s long-term results,” Katch said, noting it outperformed its benchmark in every time period. This includes 3-, 5- and 10-year, as well as since inception, with the 10-year record outperforming its benchmark by 300 basis points. “VCCF remains committed to its core competency: managing endowments for long-term growth so that annual distributions – after fees and inflation – still permit capital growth through market cycles,” Ralston said. “This provides distributions in perpetuity, a core element of donor intent.”

Charitable Gift Annuity: A win-win in tough times For One Life (Yourself) Age Rate 60 65 70 75 80 85 90+

5.0% 5.3% 5.7% 6.3% 7.1% 8.1% 9.5%


For Two Lives n these challenging times, a VCCF charitable gift annuity (Yourself and another) continues to offer solid benefits and an opportunity to make Age Rate a difference for the Ventura County charity or cause of your 60/65 4.8% choice. 65/70 5.0% These annuities allow you to leave a legacy in Ventura County 70/75 5.3% while receiving a guaranteed lifetime income. Only at VCCF 75/80 5.8% can you benefit multiple regional charities of your choice. 80/85 6.5% For more information about eligibility requirements and 85/90 7.5% program details, please call Ilana Ormond at (805) 988-0196, 90/95 9.0% Ext.122, or e-mail her at effective date 12/01/09

• e n g aI ng ve emsetni nt g• e c ant ti ounr a• Ce o nu do m eFnotr • Ggor a i nd uVe nw t y. o ndt.sF•o sr cEhvoel ar.r s h i p s


Donor passion inspires legacies The Fairburn Fund launched 500 diplomas


illiam and Cynthia Fairburn used the fortune they made from matches for the purpose of enlightenment – educating generations of Ventura County students. Their scholarship fund, established in 1994, is one of the largest at the Ventura County Community Foundation. It had been their shared dream to provide financial aid to young scholars, said Dick Shipley, a founding board member. “They both believed the finest heritage you can leave children is an education,” he said. The Fairburns settled in Ojai and became fixtures at the city’s famed Tennis Tournament. Cynthia outlived her husband by about 20 years and became active in charity work, including reading for the blind. “She was one of the most delightful ladies I have ever met,” Shipley said. And also one of the most private. In addition to leaving the bulk of

Photo courtesy of the Ojai Tennis Tournament

Cynthia Fairburn volunteered each year at the tea tent at the Ojai Tennis Tournament.

her estate to VCCF scholarships, she funded scholarships during her lifetime. And although she loved reading about the recipients, she remained very much in the background, Shipley noted. On March 26, 2001, Cynthia was driving her trademark Jeep, when she lost control of the vehicle. She died shortly after the single-car accident. Eight years after her death, 76 students received the 2009 Fairburn Scholarships through VCCF. They are studying at some of the finest universities: Wellesley, Georgetown,

UC Berkeley and Tufts. Winners include the captain of Moorpark High’s national championship Academic Decathlon Team. The Fairburn file at VCCF is stuffed with notes of gratitude from scholarship winners. Like this one from Jessica Pillioni, who is attending Holy Cross College: “Time endures but cannot fade the memories that kindness has made.” Hers is one voice among the hundreds already touched by the Fairburn’s generosity and of the hundreds yet to come.

George and ‘Tessie’ Bach bequest is one for the books


he more than 8,000 students of the Hueneme School District have the world at their fingertips because of the passion for reading shared by a devoted husband and wife. The George and Maria Theresa “Tessie” Bach Charitable Endowment Fund for the Libraries of the Hueneme School District was established at the Ventura County Community Foundation in 1994 to buy books for the school libraries. Tessie Bach founded the first library in the district. By the time she retired after almost 30 years, 11 district schools had libraries. “She was devoted to books, children and learning,” said Bach’s former financial adviser Midge Stork. George Bach, a Santa Paula native, was a building


contractor. The pair never had children and lived frugally. George passed away in 1993. A year later, Tessie established the library fund at VCCF. She died Feb. 28, 1998, after she was rescued from a fire in her home. In her will she left $350,000 to support the libraries. Most years, the $20,000 or so the district takes from the endowment pays for books. It also paid to enlarge one school’s library and to replace the district’s antiquated system for tracking books, said Debra Reeves, the school district’s chief business officer. “Tessie’s fund has made a huge difference for our children,” Reeves said. And their endowment will continue to extend the Bachs’ love of books for years to come.

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

Grateful descendants honor Ventura County pioneers


ominick McGrath likely would have been proud of the fund established at the Ventura County Community Foundation in his name and that of his late wife, Bridget. A careful farmer, a prudent businessman and proud patriarch, the Ventura County agricultural pioneer understood stewardship and investing in the community. In 1992, almost 100 years after his death, some of his 500 descendants established the Dominick and Bridget McGrath Fund to support the work of the Community Foundation, as it addresses community needs. “Rarely in life are we given the opportunity to record a presence and a place in history and at the same time enhance the future well-being of our community,” said Tom Leonard, the VCCF board member and McGrath descendant who established the fund. As young man, Dominick had left his native Longford County, Ireland. While other men flocked to California looking for gold, McGrath invested his earnings as a shepherd into a thousand head of sheep. He sold the 49ers wool, mutton and hides, according to a family history written

Photos courtesy of Roz McGrath

Dominick and Bridget McGrath settled in Ventura County 135 years ago.

by McGrath descendant Yvonne C. Bodle. It was in Northern California where he met Bridget Donlon, 18 years his junior. She had ties to Ventura County and the pair scouted land in this region. In 1874, they bought a 1,337-acre ranch on what is now West Gonzalez Road in Oxnard and settled down to farm it. Along the way they had 14 children, with 10 surviving into adulthood. The family prospered, and their holdings were so extensive that a person could walk from Montalvo to Hueneme and never leave McGrath land. Bridget died at 42, giving birth to a stillborn child. Dominick was 81 years old when cancer claimed him in 1908. The endowment has been put to work throughout the county. Grants have bolstered the efforts of the Women’s Legacy Fund, El Centrito de la Colonia educational center and the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Foundation, to name a few. Said VCCF President and CEO Hugh Ralston, “For years to come, the McGrath Legacy will reach out to help this region they loved.”

Saving the lives of women for years to come


uriel Robinson will never know how many lives she has saved. In her lifetime, the Simi Valley teacher had served on the Ventura County District Attorney’s Task Force Against Domestic Violence. In 2002, she opened the Muriel W. Robinson Fund to Empower Women at the Community Foundation, a part of the Women’s Legacy Fund endowment. Two years later, when she passed away at age 67, most of her estate came to VCCF and her fund. Since then, her wishes have been carried out through grants awarded by the Women’s Legacy Fund at VCCF,

specifically to programs that address the needs of women confronting violence. This year alone, almost $28,000 from her fund went to organizations that help abused women start over free of the daily fear of abuse. Other programs teach teens to recognize potentially abusive partners and break the cycle of domestic violence. “Thanks to Muriel Robinson’s bequest, the Women’s Legacy Fund’s grantmaking will support domestic violence prevention and services in every grant cycle, in perpetuity,” said Tina Knight, vice president of Programs and Grants at VCCF.

The late Muriel Robinson was a major benefactor to the fight against domestic abuse in Ventura County.

• engagement • education • endowment • grants • scholarships


Classmate honors law student who died too young


arah Moody hadn’t been feeling well. Her doctors did not know why she was in pain and suffering from an array of symptoms. She was scheduled to have her gallbladder removed after her last final at the Ventura College of Law.

she pursued her degree from the Ventura College of Law. In 2004, Kassandra started a memorial fund at the Ventura County Community Foundation on behalf of Sarah’s parents, Jerry and Millie Moody, of St. Charles, Mo., who have made significant contributions to the endowment. “It helped all of us deal with losing Sarah,” Kassandra said.

Sarah would not have the surgery nor take the final on Dec. 9, 2002. After she and her best friend Kassandra Clingan had studied in the morning, Sarah went home. When Sarah’s boyfriend found her at lunchtime, she had passed away. Her autopsy showed nothing wrong with her gallbladder. The cause of death was determined to be acute glycemia. The decision was made to hold finals and to keep Sarah’s death a secret until after the last exam that semester. Kassandra and the assistant dean both believed Sarah would have wanted her classmates to complete their course work. “Sarah was so down to earth,” said Kassandra, who now owns a ranch in Tehachapi. “She was going to be a criminal defense lawyer. She knew about life, and she wanted to

The scholarship is awarded annually to a law student entering his or her third year with the lowest grade point average in the class — a position Sarah had occupied.

Sarah Moody died before taking her last final at Ventura College of Law in 2002. Her classmate found a way to help others after her tragic loss.

make a difference.” Just 36 years old, Sarah worked at the law firm of Earnest Bell while

“Sarah worked hard at school and her job. She did not have the best grades, but would have made a great attorney,” said Kassandra, noting the scholarship helps defray expenses that pop up around graduation. When Kassandra married Daniel McQuillen, she had made it clear: if they should ever decide to start a family, the name Sarah for a girl was nonnegotiable. Today Sarah McQuillen is 3 years old.

We get letters: VCCF scholarship winners express thanks in their own words From Kimberly Patton, 2009 James C. Basile Scholarship recipient: I have had to face a lot of struggles and some might have given up but I have always had positive people behind me giving me the strength to continue to make goals and reach them. Especially in my hopes of becoming a teacher, to be someone who educates as well as encourages students of younger generations to reach their goals and become the person they want to be. Thank you for helping me in my journey. Kimberly is studying at California State University, Northridge ¶¶¶ From Dorothy Voelker, 2009 Star Scholar:


This year I will be participating in a leadership program called the Next Gen Academy. Through this program I desire to better myself and my capacity to be a contributing member of this society and world. Due to your generous support I am able to pursue these dreams and further my education on the academic level. ¶¶¶ From Maxine Holland, 2007 Jan Heyne Memorial Scholarship recipient, 2007 Salik Omar Shah Scholarship recipient, and 2007 Star Scholar: I’m amazed at the many opportunities that Stanford has had to offer, but they would not have been made possible without your support. I truly appreciate what this foundation has done for me and many students like me, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to help others in the

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

Scholarship winner goes to the head of her class


ome people have an innate drive to reach a goal. Emily Christison has achieved many goals in her 22 years. Christison, of Ventura, knew she would have to work her way through UCLA. So instead of taking a lowpaying job which would require her to work many hours and could get in the way of her studies, she developed a plan. In 2006, Christison was awarded the Ventura County Career/Technical Education Scholarship which she used to go to LuRoss Academy to study to become a licensed beautician. While pursuing the 14-week, 40 hour per week course of study at LuRoss, she also managed to attend night classes at Ventura College. She finished the Academy a month early. “I knew if I could finish up the program ahead of schedule, I would be able to continue my studies at Ventura College full time and also make a sufficient amount of money doing hair to pay for school,” Christison said. She worked hard to become bilingual, with classes at Ventura County and an immersion program which turned out to be life-changing. “After participating in this program, I found that the global studies major fit the criteria of my interests,” she said. Emily did not stop there. She received the James C. Basile Award in 2008 and headed off to UCLA to earn a degree in global studies. In her first quarter at UCLA, she distinguished her-

way you’ve helped me. Maxine is junior at Stanford University, majoring in economics and classics. ¶¶¶ From Laura J. Fredrickson, 2006 Association of Water Agencies Scholarship recipient, 2006 Star Scholar, 2006, 2008 and 2009 William A. & Cynthia D. Fairburn Memorial Scholarship recipient: Last year, my junior year, was the most academically challenging year so far. I enrolled in a graduate math class, worked very hard and learned a ton in the process. I often spent over 12 hours on each weekly homework assignment, turning in 10 single-spaced pages of proofs. I’m planning on taking two yearlong graduate courses this year so I should be well prepared for the graduate

self for diving into difficult theoretical material while collaborating with her fellow students, according to her art professor David Gere. “Working effectively in a group can be a very tough life skill to master,” Gere said, “yet from my standpoint it is the key to success in the real world.” Christison graduated in June 2009. Her senior thesis ex- Emily Christison had a plan plored the global cosmetics for her education and was able to stick with it, thanks industry. to two VCCF scholarships. Today she has her own hair and makeup artistry business, She has worked with Disney and other production companies and will work at a high-end West Hollywood salon. “This is a fabulous opportunity for me ... and to get my foot in the door is huge,” Christison shared. “I have aspirations to begin my own cosmetics line and one day to have a salon of my very own in the west Los Angeles area,” she said. To express her gratitude over the support she has received from VCCF, she offered to style the hair of everyone on the scholarship committee. “Emily has such a generous heart and exemplifies how scholarships can really make a difference in students’ futures,” said Virginia Weber, VCCF’s program officer for scholarships.

Jariah L. Strozier accepts the 2009 Orfalea Scholarship from Catherine Brozowski, vice president of the Orfalea Family Foundation/ Orfalea Fund.

Photo by Jim Jenson

level coursework I plan to undertake. Laura is scheduled to graduate in 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from University of California, Irvine.

I n v e s t i n g i n Ve n t u r a C o u n t y. F o r G o o d . F o r E v e r.


Scholarship awards reach record high in 2009


record number of scholarships were awarded to local students at the Ventura County Community Foundation Scholarship Awards Reception in June. Nearly 380 of the 490 recipients attended the event, sponsored by Haas Automation Inc. Scholarships totaling more than $1.35 million were handed out, also a new record. Despite the downturn in the economy this year, the Community Foundation awarded at least $290,000 more than it did in 2008. “At this time of economic dis-

tress for so many families, these scholarships well may decide whether students continue their education and keep their dreams alive,” said Pierre Y. Tada, chair of the VCCF board. In 2009, donors created $135,500 in new scholarship funds. The scope of this annual undertaking would not be possible without dozens of unsung volunteers. A team of 18 processed the more than 3,060 applications. Sixteen screened the applications to make sure they complied with the guidelines set by donors. A committee of 40 volunteers rated the 1,371 eligible applications.

VCCF scholarships by the numbers

Photo by Jim Jenson

Sarah Gonzalez waits to hear her name called so she can accept her James C. Basile Scholarship at the June awards reception.

Total amount awarded: Total first year (1993): Total in 2009: Increase: Scholarships funds at VCCF: Applications in 2008: Volunteers in 2009:

$5 million $5,625 $1,329,801 236x 96 3,060 74

Young talents receive first Emerging Artist scholarships


eremy Hanna, of Newbury Park, and Elizabeth Hatakeyama, of Thousand Oaks, have been honored with the inaugural Emerging Artists scholarships at the Ventura County Community Foundation. Hanna and Hatakeyama each received a $2,500 award through a new fund that helps students enrolled in any artistic course of study attend institutions known for excellence in teaching the arts. The Emerging Artists Scholarship comes out of the ArtsLIVE initiative — a threeyear effort underwritten by the James Irvine Foundation’s Communities Advancing the Arts — to spotlight and


Photo by Jim Jenson

Elizabeth Hatakeyama, of Thousand Oaks, will study animation at CSU San Jose, thanks to winning one of VCCF’s first Emerging Artists scholarship.

enhance artistic expression in Ventura County. The VCCF Community Response Fund provided the seed money for this year’s inaugural awards. The Foundation now seeks local donors to contribute to this endowment fund, which will ensure scholarships can be distributed annually to the most talented artists in the Ventura County region. “Part of our objective is to build an enduring source of support that will send the best talent from our county to the finest schools in the country, to

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

continued on Page 9.

VCCF fund honors board chair


he VCCF Board of Directors established a legacy to honor one of Ventura County’s most revered philanthropists, and one of its own. The Mary Leavens Schwabauer Leadership Fund is a tribute to the long-time VCCF board member, who stepped down in 2008 after four years of serving as the first woman board chair in VCCF history. Schwabauer, of Moorpark, remains on the board. A teacher and an advocate of historical preservation, Schwabauer’s passions include serving on the VCCF scholarship committee for over 15 years; helping to establish the Heritage Fund to preserve Ventura County’s history and values; dedicating time and resources to the Workforce Education Task Force of the Ventura County Civic Alliance; and participating as founding member of the Destino and Women’s Legacy Funds. “The Community Foundation needs to continue in the direction it is going,” said Schwabauer, noting VCCF’s endowments have almost tripled in the past five years. The Schwabauer Fund was established to ensure VCCF’s mission to address the needs of Ventura County and sustain a balanced budget through challenging economic times. “Leadership begins with the board, and it is important the organization have the resources to do its job,” Schwabauer said. “Annual support demonstrates that we believe in the

ARTISTS: Continued from Page 8.

give them the training they need to succeed as artists,” said Hugh Ralston, VCCF president and CEO. Hanna, a Newbury Park High School graduate, is studying theater arts at California Lutheran University. An award-winning performer, he hopes to teach theater so he can help students work through their emotions by acting, instead of acting out.

Photo by Fred Bauermeister

Mary Schwabauer states her support for VCCF’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

work we are leading, and are willing to back it with our wallets as well as our hearts. How else can we demonstrate the value of what we do, if we don’t support it ourselves?” Every member of the board and 100 percent of the staff contributed to the fund, including a donation to establish an endowed core, which will ensure the fund in perpetuity. Contributions to the Mary Leavens Schwabauer Leadership Fund can be made online at, via check (made out to VCCF) or by donating other assets as approved by VCCF. For more information, contact Lindsay Smith, Donor Relations Officer, (805) 988-0196, Ext. 115. A 2009 graduate of La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, Hatakeyama is enrolled in the animation program at California State University, San Jose. As a volunteer, she created posters encouraging donations of supplies to the Agoura Animal Shelter. Donors interested in contributing to the fund are invited to contact Hugh Ralston at VCCF, or make donations online at

Arts Council offers creative approach to helping artists Helping our community and our artists at the same time: What could be better? That question is posed by Margaret Travers, executive director of the Ventura County Arts Council, in introducing a new program by and for local artists. Called the Artists in Community Partnerships Grants Program, it supports employment for local artists, while also helping nonprofits stretched thinner by the demand on their resources brought on by the recession. The Ventura County Arts Council (VCAC) spearheaded the development of this program as part of the ArtsLIVE in Ventura County partnership with the Ventura County Community Foundation. The goal is to raise $20,000 to match the $40,000 from the James Irvine Foundation to provide grants to artists who use their creative skills to partner with community organizations in raising that organization’s profile. “In its first year, this program has shown the natural partnership of nonprofits and artists to improve our communities,” Travers said. To keep the program robust, Travers and the VCAC Board are calling on 200 artists to contribute $100 each, although donations of any amount are welcome. More information: Contact VCAC at (805) 658-2213; or go to VCAC’s Web site:

• engagement • education • endowment • grants • scholarships


Bolstering nonprofit survival skills in a tough economy Center pays tribute to long-time donors

Photos by Fred Bauermeister

Gary Erickson and the Erickson Family Fund at VCCF support the Center’s tech program by donating equipment and underwriting resources for the Center’s library.

Berta Steele, of Ventura, is a longtime donor and founder of several of Ventura County’s key nonprofit resources. She served as the first director of the Center.


he Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the Ventura County Community Foundation has expanded its course offerings in response to the toll the recession is taking on local charities, VCCF President and CEO Hugh Ralston announced at the Center’s recent Annual Open House. At the autumn event attended by 150 representatives of local Ventura County nonprofits, Ralston unveiled the new lineup which includes: • Financial literacy for nonprofit board members and staff; • Structuring investment policies for endowments; • How endowments work, and why they are not reserve funds; • Nonprofit governance in crisis times; • How to use new media tools to tell the stories that engage donors; • Donor development and the role of planned giving in nurturing relationships through the tough times. “Our curriculum has adjusted and will continue to adjust to address topics that focus on the skills to succeed in these less forgiving times,” Ralston said. “The Center for Nonprofit Leadership has stepped up to the plate by responding to the

needs emerging around us in this recession.” For the first time in its 18-year history, the Center for Nonprofit Leadership has laid out a sequence of courses — much like a college curriculum — so that participants can build on their knowledge and skills in a more systematic way. To develop the new courses, the Center for Nonprofit Leadership — under Vice President and Director Dena Jenson — sought input from the graduates of the Center’s board leadership program, the Center’s faculty, local experts on social media, financial experts and VCCF staff, particularly Ilana Ormond, vice president of Philanthropic Services. “Our goal through the Center,” Jenson said, “is to help nonprofits through these economic times by educating boards and their members on their fiduciary responsibilities, on how to position themselves to donors, on the absolute need for transparency in their operations, and if necessary on how to collaborate with other nonprofits to patch the holes punched in the safety net by the recession and changing state budgets.”

Report Card FY2009

Representing honoree Wells Fargo were Robbin Preciado, Pacific Coast Community Bank regional president, and Jonathan Weedman, regional vice president of the bank’s foundation.


The Center for Nonprofit Leadership has another banner year: Number or workshops: 98 Number of attendees: 2,000 Board members trained: 526 at 19 events Number of tech training students: 400 from 193 unduplicated organizations Circuit Rider (onsite technology assessments): 8 organizations served Planned Giving Institute: 5 nonprofits realized charitable gift annuities in the range of $100,000 Number of local arts organizations receiving training: 22 Faculty milestones: 65 faculty members provided over 300 hours of classroom instruction

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

VCCF and donors working together Despite economic downturn, grants enjoy banner year The Social Justice Fund for Ventura County latest awards were presented at a reception on Nov. 5 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Ventura. The recipients were Arts for Action, El Centrito Family Learning Centers, Foundation for Educational & Employment Resources Development Inc., Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, Kids vs. Global Warming’s Sea Level Awareness Project, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper; and Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. More info: ¶ Nonprofits that provide free health care to uninsured women, aid victims of domestic abuse and shelter homeless mothers and their children received a total of $70,000 at the Women’s Legacy Fund Luncheon at Saticoy Country Club in September. Ventura County CEO Marty Robinson delivered the keynote address of the event. The 2009 Women’s Legacy Fund grant winners are: Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Ventura County; Area Agency on Aging; the Free Clinic of Simi Valley; Interface Children Family Services; Many Mansions; Many Motors; Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project; Rain Communities Inc; Rescue Mission Alliance for the Lighthouse Women & Children’s Mission; and United Way of Ventura County. More info: womens_legacy/index.shtml ¶ ArtsLIVE in Ventura County named the winners of its inaugural round of grants at a reception in May. A

Among those honored for their volunteer efforts on behalf of VCCF are, from left, Doug Green, Doug Graham of Shred Rite, Nancy Stehle and Fred Bauermeister.

President’s Award honors dedicated volunteers Ten volunteers who have donated their time and talents to bettering the lives of thousands in Ventura County were honored with the new Ventura County Community Foundation’s President’s Award. Recipients were chosen for outstanding service on VCCF committees, as volunteer faculty members for the Center for Nonprofit Leadership or as past Board members who remain active with VCCF. “We simply could not accomplish all that we do for Ventura County without the contributions of these community leaders,” VCCF

President and CEO Hugh Ralston told the roughly 75 attending the reception at the Commemorative Air Force WWII Aviation Museum in Camarillo.

total of $129,950 was awarded to two dozen nonprofits and individual artists who submitted proposals showing how they would use creative expression to address community problems.

programs serving Ventura County’s Latino community at its reception in April. The grants focused on Health (specifically teen pregnancy and communicable diseases), Reading, Literacy, Writing and Financial Literacy as well as Arts and Culture. These organizations received the 2009 grants: United Way of Ventura County-Ventura County AIDS Partnership; El Concilio del Condado de Ventura; City Impact Inc.; El Centrito Family Learning Centers; City Corps of the Central Coast; Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme; Lucha Inc., as fiscal sponsor for Inlakech Cultural Arts Center; and Téatro de las Américas Inc. More info: destino_fund/index.shtml

The 2009 grantees include a proposal to adapt Shakespeare for young children, to inspire teens to create a mural depicting the endangered creatures living in the waters off of Ventura County’s coast as well as to publish a collection of autobiographies written by incarcerated youth. For a complete list of 2009 grantees go to: artslive/index.shtml ¶ Destino: The Hispanic Legacy Fund awarded grants totaling $51,000 to

The winners of the 2009 President’s Award are Fred Bauermeister, of Moorpark; Doug Green, of Santa Paula; Ted Jensen, of Port Hueneme; Lois Manning, of Ventura; Richard Shipley, of Camarillo; Shred Rite, of Oxnard; Nancy Stehle, of Oxnard; Alex Teague, of Santa Paula; George Tillquist, of Ventura; Peter Wakeman, of Westlake Village.

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n 2007, Ventura County charities entered an unprecedented collaboration to aid farmworkers thrown out of their jobs by a catastrophic winter freeze.

Nonprofits ally in fight against recession’s ills

The effort, started just as the worst of the recession was hitting home in early fall of 2008, has been helped by the Amgen Foundation, which matched dollar for dollar all donations up to $150,000 made through Dec. 4.

In 2009, nonprofits showed that same drive for creative partnership in Ventura County Together. This time, they united to provide food, rent and medical care to local residents pushed to the edge by the worst economy in 70 years.

“We are pleased the Amgen Foundation recognized this collaborative approach to help our neighbors who are struggling during these tough economic times,” said Hugh Ralston, president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation.

So far the campaign has raised $224,000. The first grants went out of the door last fall and have allowed FOOD Share to provide diapers, food and baby formula. They have funded free health clinics in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard. Eight nonprofit agencies have used VC Together grants to provide a safety net for those on the brink of eviction. “In times of trouble, communities have always come together to help their own,” according to a joint statement by First 5 of Ventura County, the United Way of Ventura County and the Ventura County Community

Donors show support of Ventura County Together Amgen Foundation Bank of American Foundation VCCF United Way of Ventura County First 5 Anonymous individual The Gas Co. AT&T Private donors Total (as of Jan. 1)

VCCF Datebook January

14th: ArtsLIVE grant applicant information meeting: 9 to 10:30 a.m., in the Community Room at VCCF, 1317 Del Norte Road, Suite 150, Camarillo. Attendance is mandatory for anyone seeking a grant. Information: LaToya Ford at (805) 988-0196, Ext. 126, or e-mail 20th: Board Service 101: 9 a.m. to noon, VCCF Community Room for seven Wednesdays, January through July. Offered by the Center for Nonprofit Leadership. Information: Susan Seale (805) 988-0196, Ext. 110, or e-mail at 25th: Monday Night Grantwriting: 6 to 9 p.m., VCCF Community Room for six consecutive Mondays, through March 8 (no class on February 15th). Offered by the Center for Nonprofit Leadership. Information:


Foundation, the three founding members. Those organizations committed $10,000 each as seed money in “The Buck Starts Here” drive.

$112,000 $20,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $2,500 $2,000 $1,500 $53,000 $224,000

Many nonprofits are struggling to deliver basic needs, Ralston pointed out. The recession presented a double whammy: it made fund raising tougher just as the need for services grew. “Instead of staking out their turf, though, nonprofits found common ground in the urgency to care for those suffering the most from the economy,” he said. More info:

Susan Seale at (805) 988-0196, Ext. 110, or e-mail at

February 5th: ArtsLIVE grant proposals due: 1 p.m. For application eligibility and to download the Request for Proposals, visit 24th: The Changing Face of Philanthropy: noon to 2:30 p.m., Ventura County Office of Education, Conference and Educational Services Center, 5100 Adolfo Road, Camarillo. Joe Lumarda will examine the demography and psychology of donors in light of the unsettling economic environment. Fee: $40 per two-person team Lunch included. Information: Susan Seale (805) 988-0196, Ext. 110, or e-mail at Explore more options: go to

P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

Publications and public engagement Civic Alliance raises awareness of movement to reform government The Ventura County Civic Alliance is monitoring initiatives gathering momentum that could have significant impact on the future of the Ventura County region. Dick Thomson, the Civic Alliance’s California Governance Project leader, has created a new page on the Alliance Web site intended to be a point of entry for learning about these governance initiatives. “This project is based on the belief that each person can make a difference,” Stacy Roscoe, VCCA Executive Committee member. “The current California governance situation is so complicated that there is no obvious path for fixing it or leadership group to coordinate a fix,” he said. “It is in Ventura County’s best interest to inform and educate our population, and attempt to inspire a grass-roots, commonsense plan for making government work again on all levels.” The new watchdog site is www. ca_governance.shtml. The Civic Alliance has a lineup of presentations in early 2010:

• On Jan. 21, at the Courtyard

Marriot in Oxnard, 7:15 to 9 a.m., the Alliance will coconvene with the Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County. The topic will be our current water shortage.

• Also in February and early

March, it will hold workshops across the County to showcase the results of the fall mapping meetings.

The Civic Alliance, a VCCF initiative, promotes a healthy and sustainable future for the region. For more information visit www.

New VCCF publications shed light on local charitable efforts, civic engagement

Three recent publications created by the Ventura County Community Foundation provide an overview of philanthropy and civic engagement in our region. Transforming Community, Together charts VCCF’s record growth from 2004 through 2008. Released in the spring, this 20-page publication details the ways the Community Foundation — developed by donors and guided by community leaders — has created a source of charitable capital for Ventura County. It offers insight on how that capital — whether protected endowments, distributed legacies, funded programs or annual contributions — transforms the ways our region confronts the challenges of change. The full-color publication features a timeline of the Community Foundation’s growth in its endowment and its grantmaking. It also lists all funds established at VCCF that carry on its mission for Ventura County. Keeping the Trust, Making a Difference charts the Community Foundation’s grantmaking over the past decade. It focuses on VCCF’s Community Response Fund, Special and Urgent Needs Fund, the Mental Health Initiative and the Community Health Partnership, as examples of using funds to address community needs. One section is dedicated to the Freeze Fund — a collaboration of local nonprofits united to feed and house farmworkers thrown out of work by a catastrophic freeze in January 2007. Ventura County’s Most Livable Communities: Building Today For A Better Future, a new publication of the Ventura County Civic Alliance’s Livable Communities Working Group, features the Ten Tenets of a Livable Community and shows how these sustainable practices express themselves in every city in Ventura County. To page through the publications online, visit: We hope you will be inspired by the impact of the legacies at VCCF and the opportunities ahead.

• engagement • education • endowment • grants • scholarships


Endowment strategies sustain legacies


he times were hardest just as the need was greatest. Just a few months ago in Ventura County, unemployment hovered over 11 percent. Foreclosures were almost double what they had been a year earlier. The state slashed funding to our domestic violence shelters and programs for the frail elderly. Due to the historic market declines, VCCF’s Board of Directors voted to reduce its traditional 5 percent payout on some endowment funds for the first time in its 22year history. The board decided the uncertainty in the investment markets no longer supports that level of annual distributions. So there must be a silver lining somewhere? There is. Despite this necessary move, VCCF will in 2010 distribute more than $2 million from endowment funds to local charities to meet community needs ­— such as scholarships and programs that benefit youth and senior citizens — and to preserve donor intent. That is the power of endowments, said Hugh Ralston, VCCF president and CEO. “Donors expect endowments to remain intact, particularly through difficult times like we are going through,” Ralston said. “It is precisely to safeguard these endowments for the long term that VCCF took these prudent steps to preserve the values of core endowments and annual distributions – dual obligations our donors trust us to deliver on year in and year out.” The new policy will ensure all funds will make some annual distribution, Ralston said. “Unlike some community foundations, which have stopped distributions from ‘underwater funds,’ we chose to provide for at least some distributions to support


The late James C. Basile, a Simi Valley attorney, created an endowment at VCCF that has helped dozens of local scholars pay for their educations.

In good and bad times

the charity during these tougher times,” he said. “We know donors established these funds to support the important work of these local nonprofits, work that is even more needed in these difficult economic times,” added Ralston, acknowledging some nonprofits which are already struggling with fund raising may not be able to offset the decline in endowment contributions and will face difficult choices about staffing or services. The new policy complies with UPMIFA, the law governing the management of endowments in California, which became effective in January 2009. VCCF’s own endowments will be subject to the same restriction, Ralston noted, further impacting a budget that already has seen a $140,000 decline in fund fees this year due to the lower endowment balances.

The power of endowments multiplies with the years, providing growth both in principal and annual distributions. The following examples are VCCF funds which have benefitted from our long term strategies: • A 2003 bequest of $6.2 VCCF’s operating budget took a 15 million to a scholarship percent cut earlier this year, which, fund has distributed $1.7 among other things, left four open million in awards to students positions vacant. attending public universities in California and still retains Many funds continue to benefit a balance of $6.3 million. from VCCF’s policies which • A 1987 scholarship fund has focus on the long term, while provided $65,000 in awards providing annual support to the over the years, and still has nonprofits donors had designated $77,000 balance. as beneficiaries. • An endowment supporting “For some funds that have been with a local agency has received VCCF for 15 years,” noted Ralston, $2.1 million in contributions, “they have had the advantage of distributed $1.2 million earnings and distributions over in operating support over time and yet still retain values 15 years and retains a $2.3 about the original contributions.” million balance. For more information on the Over time, investing the Foundation’s investment strategies principal so that it grows and and to view past investment distributes annually reflects presentations, go to the power of endowments. As financial markets continue to recover, the core endowment will generate returns to carry out donors’ legacies, year in and To find out the benefits of opening a fund at VCCF, go to year out.

Check the Web


P h i l a n t h r o p i c S t e w a r d s f o r Ve n t u r a C o u n t y.

Explore the new


oodbye, photo of the little boy missing a few teeth. So long, snapshot of the sandpiper. Farewell, portrait of mother and daughter. We’ll miss you. Hello, search engine. Greetings, easy donation options. Howdy, interactive scholarship eligibility quiz. In December, the Ventura County Community Foundation soft launched a major upgrade of It meant saying goodbye to those familiar images on the Web site’s slide show. In exchange the new offers visitors a host of online tools to pinpoint the exact VCCF service they are seeking. A menu at the top of the page speeds access to the features visitors know they want. Below, they are invited to explore the possibilities through interactive choices, such as “Invest in Our County’s Youth” or “Help Strengthen Local Nonprofits.” Funded by a $50,000 grant from Verizon, the upgrade is about more than just technology for technology’s sake, said Mike Silacci, chair of VCCF’s Communications/ Marketing Committee. “This upgrade isn’t about VCCF having the newest technology. It is about efficiency,” said Silacci, who also serves on the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. Features on the new site save printing and staff time, he noted, and therefore allow VCCF to lower overhead and preserve the charitable capital entrusted to it. The major upgrades include: • A secure “My Account” which allows donors with VCCF funds to view their statements online; • An interactive quiz that helps students seeking scholarships at VCCF make sure they qualify for any

The new was soft launched in December.

grant they apply for; • Individual pages telling VCCF donor stories; • Links to social networking sites and the future capacity to play videos. The Web site, said VCCF President and CEO Hugh Ralston, in essence makes the Community Foundation a 24/7 operation. “We know more information, research and dialog is occurring online, beyond normal business hours and away from traditional print venues such as newsletters and mailings,” Ralston said. “The new site allows us to be available when our stakeholders need us.” We invite your comments on the new Please e-mail us at

Above and beyond...


trio of Ventura County Community Foundation employees earned the most recent Staff Leadership Awards for exceptional resourcefulness in transitioning VCCF to new technologies. Heather Short and Lindsay Smith were cited for their work in moving VCCF fund statements from paper to digital access on the revamped Talon Klipp received the award for his efforts to streamline producing publications inhouse. “In all three cases, our staff colleagues jumped in, did the research, developed the skills and delivered

Talon Klipp, Heather Short, and Lindsay Smith are the most recent winners of VCCF’s Staff Leadership Awards.

results that will substantively improve the efficiency and effectiveness of key elements of our donor communications and relations,” said Hugh Ralston, President and CEO. “I am pleased to highlight their skills and dedication with this award, and to share the pride we have in their contributions to the

good work of VCCF.” Klipp serves as office manager and systems administrator and has been associated with VCCF nine years. Short, a fund development associate, has worked at VCCF since May 2008. Smith, donor relations officer, has been at VCCF three years.

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1317 Del Norte Road, Suite 150, Camarillo, CA 93010-8504 P: 805-988-0196 F: 805-485-5537 E: W: Philanthropic Stewards for Ventura County. Investing in Ventura County. For Good. For Ever.

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Oxnard, CA Permit No. 210

RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED Board of Directors Pierre Y. Tada, Chair Gary E. Erickson, Vice Chair Timothy J. McCallion, Vice Chair & Treasurer Stacy A. Roscoe, Vice Chair Scott B. Samsky, Secretary Mary L. Schwabauer, Immediate Past Chair Hon. Michael D. Bradbury Tim Gallagher Robert J. Katch Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Terri E. Lisagor, Ed.D. Armando Lopez Charles Maxey, Ph.D. Roz McGrath M. Carmen Ramirez Michael L. Silacci President & CEO Hugh J. Ralston

VCCF is certified in compliance with national standards for U.S. Community Foundations

Highlights is VCCF’s quarterly newsletter. Writers: Colleen Cason, Kesa Ryono; Design and production: Talon Klipp; Photos: Fred Bauermeister, Jim Jenson, Joe Virnig. To access Highlights online, visit This publication is printed on recycled materials.

Seven cool things you can do on the new


his month, Ventura County Community Foundation will unveil its completely revamped Web site.

Flip to Page 15 of this issue of Highlights for a report on the site’s improvements. Below is a preview of what you will find: 1. Donate directly to hundreds of funds managed by VCCF. 2. Navigate the new site with ease, whether you are a first-time visitor or frequent user. 3. Read the stories behind the donors and their legacies at VCCF. 4. Log on to the new ‘My Account’ section to access fund statements online. 5. Connect to a social-networking site linked to VCCF’s arts initiatives. 6. Access research about community needs. 7. Explore grantmaking from VCCF funds that help a wide array of local nonprofits.

VCCF Highlights Winter 2010  

Ventura County Community Foundation Newsletter

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