Community Grants Awarded

2022-2023 Grants Awarded

The Watsonville Rotary Club is pleased to announce the completion of its 2022-2023 Community Grants Program and the organizations selected for funding. During this grant cycle, our foundation received 16 grant proposals,  with applicants requesting grants of up to $5,000 for a total of 79 ,000 in funding requests. Our foundation relies on a transparent process using objective tools to thoroughly review and select the proposals most closely aligned with our guidelines and objectives.

With a grant-making budget of $25 ,000 this year, and many strong grant proposals to consider, the final funding decisions were very challenging.  We wish we could do more, and to that end, we will continue to work toward increasing our capacity to generate additional grant-making funds in the future.

It should be noted that Watsonville Rotary Foundation's grant-making budget is determined by the success of its annual fundraising efforts. While our members generously contribute directly to these efforts year-round,  a large portion of our grantmaking funds are generated by individual community residents and sponsors who support our Club's Annual "Claws for a Cause" Maine Lobster Drive-Through Dinner, held each summer.
We are extremely grateful for our community's generous support – which is both a source of pride for our Club and we hope an area for continued growth in the future.

Guidelines Followed This Year

In June, 2023 , grants were made to organizations in Watsonville and the greater  Pajaro Valley community that addressed the following priority areas:

Safety Net & Crisis Resolution Services: These are programs that help families and children meet basic human needs for safety, food, shelter, clothing and childcare.

Healthy Lifestyle, Learning and Living: These are programs that give youth access to activities and training that support youth with positive solutions to social problems, increase access to mental health services for youth and their families and increase access to education, job skills training or enrichment opportunities.

Health and Youth Development:These are programs that encourage the practice of making safe and healthy lifestyle choices, teach life skills, conflict resolution, teamwork and ethical behavior.

Our Foundation's maximum award per applicant is up to $5,000 per award. Applicants can and did request smaller grant amounts in accordance with their needs. Finally, only applicants whose annual budgets are $2.5 million or less were eligible to apply for a grant this year.


The resulting awards, which ranged from $3,000 to $5,000, were made to the seven nonprofit agencies listed below for a total of $ 25,000 in grant awards in support of children and youth in the Pajaro Valley. We are proud to present this year's grantees:

  • Boy Scout Troop 599: $3,000 (Serves up to 23 scouts). Program Grant to subsidize outing fees for low-income scouts (Healthy Lifestyles-Learning).
  • Cabrillo College Foundation-Engineering Abroad Program: $3,000. (Serves 43 Pajaro Valley students). Program Grant to support 2-week service-learning experience in small Central American village designing & building local projects (Healthy Lifestyles: Learning & Living)
  • FoodWhat!: $3,000 (Serves  up to 275 Pajaro Valley Youth). Core Operating grant supports leadership, job skills development & healthy lifestyle training for local youth  (Healthy Lifestyles, Learning & Living)
  • Live Like Coco Foundation: $3,500 (Serves up to 4,500 PVUSD students). Program Grant supports free English/Spanish reading books for ten PVUSD elementary schools. (Healthy Lifestyles, Learning & Living).
  • MENtors Driving Change: $4,500 (Serves estimated 80-100 PVUSD boys & their families). Program Grant funds support broad activities to improve coping skills, communication, conflict resolution and overall mental health for boys. (Health & Youth Development).
  • Pajaro Valley Shelter Services: $5,000 (Serves 100+ children in 42 families). Core Operating Grant to support homeless children & their families with training to build emotional, financial and self-sufficiency skills. (Safety Net & Crisis Resolution).
  • Watsonville Wetlands Watch: $3,000 (Serves 24 interns, grades 9-12). Program Grant provides year-long paid internships to prepare local students for college-level study & careers in science.  (Healthy Lifestyles, Living & Learning)


2021-2022 Grants Awarded

All grants were $5,000.

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): Core Operating Support for training CASA Advocates. (Health & Youth Development)
  • Family Services Agency-Survivors Healing Center: Program Grant Support to provide services to youth victims of sexual assault as well as prevention information for youth (Health & Youth Development)
  • Jacob's Heart: Core Operating Support for children with cancer and their families (Safety Net & Crisis Resolution Services)
  • KidPower: Program Grant Support for training & coaching to address abuse, violence prevention & healthy lifestyle choices. (Health & Youth Development)
  • Live Earth Farm Discovery: Core Operating Support for active education programs that teach youth nutrition & environmental science in an enriching outdoor setting; plus fresh organic produce distributions to student participants. (Health & Youth Development)
  • National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI):  Core Operating Support to provide mental health services to At-Risk Children & Youth & Their Families (Healthy Lifestyles: Learning & Living)


2020-2021 Grants Awarded

Organizations receiving grant funding from Watsonville Rotary are noted with an asterisk.*

AG HISTORY PROJECT $1,000*  This grant supports installation of bilingual signage (English/Spanish) for the exhibits at the Ag History Project in order to better serving local residents, including children, whose primary language is Spanish.

FOOD WHAT! $1,000  Funding will support access for Pajaro Valley youth to safe and enriching opportunities  to immerse themselves in education that encourages advocacy for healthy food, healthy diet, food justice and youth well-being.

LIVE LIKE COCO FOUNDATION $1,000  Funding will support purchase of 1,000 Spanish language books to be used in Coco's Birthday Books Program or to be given away at five PVUSD elementary schools and/or at Little Free Libraries in the Pajaro Valley.  Cocos's will also continue to deliver free, new English-language books for students to choose as a birthday gift.

MENTORS DRIVING CHANGE FOR BOYS, MEN AND DADS $1,000  Programming provides mentoring services to boys, men and fathers to help them develop enriched awareness and engagement in seeking positive solutions to social and personal problems and to develop healthy masculinity.

MONTEREY BAY ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP $1,000*  Funding supports free services to students, employers, educators and the community that includes Monterey Bay internships, local college career readiness resources, job seeker resources and local labor market data.

NOURISHING GENERATIONS $1,000  Funding helps cover costs for the agency's nutrition, cooking and fitness education programs for low-income children at five Mid-Peninsula Affordable Housing sites in the Pajaro Valley.  Children will learn healthy eating and exercise habits, culinary skills along with proper kitchen safety and hygiene.

O'NEILL SEA ODYSSEY $1,000  Programming supports enrollment of up to 300  PVUSD students with in O'Neill Seas Odyssey.  Students will take part in a "living" classroom on a 65-foot catamaran sailing Monterey Bay where they will engage in hands-on lessons in marine science, watershed-to-the-sea ecology and navigation. Follow-up classes will take place at the shore-side education center at the Santa Cruz Harbor where students will learn to use science tools and technology for academic and career experience to encourage a life of ocean stewardship.

PAJARO VALLEY SHELTER SERVICES $1,000  Funding is used to supplement the cost of providing mandatory workshops for all families at the Pajaro Valley Shelter Services (PVSS).  The workshops empower homeless families by teaching emotional stability, positive parenting, family planning, banking & budgeting, safety in the home, health & nutrition and especially focus on strategies for economic self-sufficiency, enabling them to move into stable housing.

SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY ASSOCIATION $1,000  Funding  helps support the symphony's Youth Concerts at the Mello Center (or by Zoom if necessary due to Covid-19 precautions)in Watsonville to introduce Pajaro Valley elementary school students to classical music.  Included in programming is connection to an ongoing music education program that provides teachers with the tools to teach their students how to read music by singing and clapping to rhythms, and to learn to play an instrument like a recorder or ukulele.

WATSONVILLE POLICE ACTIVITIES LEAGUE $1,000*  Programming provides academic support and recreational activities for Pajaro Valley youth, ages 8-17, at two WPAL locations. Programs include homework support, arts and crafts, hiking, gardening and mentoring. Grant funds would be applied toward fees that will help keep low-income youth enrolled in programs.

WATSONVILLE WETLAND WATCH $1,000  Funding supports a new, free program offered by Watsonville Wetlands Watch,  the Climate Corp Leadership Initiative (CCLI).  The program enrolls up to 15 local high school students in a hybrid (depending on Covid-19 precautions required) of in-person and online environmental education, stewardship action, leadership development and career exploration.

YOUR FUTURE IS OUR BUSINESS $1,000  Funding is used to support a series of work-based learning experiences for PV elementary, middle and high school students through career expos, career panels and job shadowing opportunities

VENTANA WILDERNESS ALLIANCE $1,000*  Funding supports overnight and day hikes for up to 30 Pajaro Valley youth, ages 13-18, to expose them to the wilderness where they learn first-hand the benefits that time in nature bestows, including, history of the indigenous residents of the area, exercise, healthy habits, stress relief, strengthening the immune system and sparking inspiration.  The program includes classroom orientation in a preparatory workshop, followed by immersion in the outdoor classroom.

25 KIDS $1,000*  This program provides access to no-cost books by staging book fairs at elementary schools in the PVUSD.  Teachers and librarians help students make appropriate reading choices.  500 elementary children will receive one new and one used book to take home.


2019-2020 Grants Awarded

Organizations receiving funding for the first time are noted with an asterisk "*".

Assist high school students in developing skills to co-teach art lessons to elementary and middle school students

Support Pajaro Valley Cabrillo College students in the Engineering Abroad Program

Provide a safe environment for at-risk and disadvantaged youth learn to use bikes safely

Free bilingual counseling and mental health services for underserved families and youth

Support the bizzNEST program to enable youth to gain valuable experience through working with clients

Provide youth with grief support programs

Support an At-risk Youth Mentorship Program for siblings of children with cancer program

Staff and youth training for Violence Prevention and Intervention Skill-Building Program in local schools

Support the "Ending the Silence" Program to reduce the stigma of mental illness by educating students about mental health issues

Diabetes education services for low-income and underserved children and families

Purchase distance learning supplies for special education teachers and therapists (OT, PT) during the COVID-19 pandemic

Support the summer Empower Watsonville Youth Leadership Program and Conference

Support workshops for at-risk youth to develop positive social, emotional, and life skills

Support the Santa Cruz Seeds/Semillitas to establish college/vocational school savings accounts for low-income babies at birth

Support the Teen Chef Program

Support free public performances, classes and workshops in local schools to expose children to Taiko drumming


2018-2019 Grants Awarded

Court Appointed Special Advocates: $1,500- Transition Age Youth in Foster Care
Ceiba Public Schools Foundation:  $2,000- Experiential Learning Project
Ecology Action: $2,000- Transportation Safety Equipment Program
Friends of Santa Cruz Public Libraries (La Selva Summer Reading Program): $950- 2019  Summer Learning Program
Jovenes Sanos: $1,500- Youth Leadership Development
Live Like Coco Foundation: $1,250-  Nisene Marks Field Trip Learning Program
Music in May: $1,500- Introduction to Music in PV Elementary Schools
New School Community Day School: $2,000- Outdoor Science/Character Development
Nourishing Generations Educational Project: $2,000- Nutrition Ed/Cooking/Fitness
O'Neill Sea Odyssey:  $2,000- Pajaro Valley Oceanography Program
Pajaro Valley Shelter Services: $1,500- Financial Empowerment Workshops
Santa Cruz Symphony Association (youth concerts): $2,000- Youth Concerts
Fairgrounds Foundation (Careers in Ag Mentorship): $2,000- Careers in Ag Youth Mentorship
Second Harvest Food Bank: $2,000- Passion for Produce Youth Inc.
Watsonville Ivy League Project: $2,000- Tours of East Coast Colleges
Your Future Is Our Business: $1,800- Career Exploration Training

Youth Now: $2000- Middle School After School program


2017-18 Grants Awarded

AZTECAS YOUTH SOCCER ACADEMY $1,500. Year-round soccer team for at risk-youth

COMMUNITY ACTION BOARD $ 750. Alcance's-Xinachtli Girl Empowerment Program

DIGITAL NEST $ 500. Retreat for Youth-Led Consultancy

FAMILY SERVICES OF THE CENTRAL COAST $1,000. Survivor's Health Center, Caring 4 Kids

Food What?! $1,500. Food for Self, Family & Community Program

HOSPICE OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY $1,500. Children's Grief Support Program

JACOB'S HEART CHILDREN'S CANCER SERVICES $1,500. Teen Support & Peer Mentorship

KIDPOWER $1,500. Building Capacity to Reduce Youth Violence

MENtors, Driving Change for Boys, Men and Dads $ 750. Boys Inc. Club



TRIPS FOR KIDS $1,000. Take 100 Kids Mountain Biking

WATSONVILLE WETLANDS WATCH $1,000. Green Careers Institute