Since 2000, the Orfalea Foundation has been bringing together people and organizations to make Santa Barbara County a more resilient, healthy, and prosperous community.
For example, the foundation’s leadership in founding the Aware & Prepare Initiative led to the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, and the coordination of jurisdictions, volunteers, foundations, and businesses that help Santa Barbara County prepare for and respond to disasters.
In addition to providing millions of dollars in scholarships and university partnerships, we also support UCSB Arts & Lectures, improving access to great thinkers and ideas, and numerous local nonprofits focused on underserved populations, such as the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Easy Lift Transportation, and Listos, a grass-roots disaster preparedness program tailored to fit the needs of Spanish-speaking communities.
In 2007, we launched the School Food Initiative, which empowers the county’s public school districts to implement and sustain nourishing cooked-from-scratch food service operations. We quickly learned that there is more to school food than what is on the tray, and devoted resources to Kitchen Grants, Garden-Based Learning, Food Literacy, Public Policy, and Environmental Understanding.
Our Early Childhood Education programs focus on improving quality childhood education in centers and preschools across Santa Barbara County. For over a decade, we have brought innovative practices and quality standards to directors and teachers though group trainings, on-site visits, accreditation support, leadership development, and now online at www.WholeChildAction.org, a visual journal of practical ideas for addressing the needs of the whole child. Two of our largest ECE initiatives are the Outdoor Classroom Project and Preschool Food & Healthy Habits Initiative. Together, these efforts support our foundation’s vision that all children deserve quality environments and informed adults to ensure their success in school and in life.
Orfalea’s REACH youth development program, which evolved from our Montana Yellowstone Expeditions outdoor program, works with low income, high motivation students from their junior year of high school through their second year of post-secondary education. The program provides young people with essential life skills, from first aid to financial literacy, and the confidence to use them. REACH’s mission is to prepare students for lives of purposeful action, continuous learning, and the courageous pursuit of opportunity.
Learn more about our work at www.OrfaleaFoundation.org.