Making Santa Cruz County a better place to live, now and in the future, is the mission of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. Since 1982, its workshops, grants and resources have been strengthening the local nonprofit sector, and its investments often address some of the region’s most pressing needs, from affordable housing to sustainability. Susan True, who has served as the organization’s CEO for the past eight months, shared her insights about the organization and its role with MBEP:
What is unique about Santa Cruz County as it relates to your organization’s mission?
Susan: Santa Cruz County is an exceptional place, and its future is too important to leave to chance. As a community foundation, we get to shape the future today by bringing together philanthropists, community leaders, and social entrepreneurs, turning their passion into action.
Our mission is about connecting people, ideas, and resources to improve the lives of everyone in the community. We have the unique privilege of creating opportunity and local impact that strengthens our whole county — from the arts to education to the environment and much more!
As CEO, how are you putting your own stamp on the Community Foundation?
Susan: The best path to community transformation is through relationships centered on solutions to our most persistent problems. I hope that people look at my leadership of the Foundation and feel that their relationship with us has strengthened what they do, exceeded their expectations, advanced equity and led to positive impact. That happens through relationships built on trust, listening and shared purpose.
I also have a bias for action so even though we are here for good, forever, we know that we start building that future with today’s actions. To that end, I am dedicated to investing our resources in urgent needs.
For example, our Board has just approved three impact investments that expand opportunity for local residents: Landed for teacher housing, Farm Link to support farmers in growing their productivity through sustainable practices and New Way Homes for affordable housing. We have also just built a new way for donors to become investors in projects like these through our Community Investment Revolving Fund.
Our community is hungry for this opportunity to get working capital in the community for social good; we just received our first investment to the fund of $1.5 million. Those funds will be deployed immediately in low-interest loans that complement the goals of our grant making.
My stamp for the Foundation should be the one that honors our legacy and the people who have made our community the special place it is, seizes opportunity to achieve great results in the present and plans for a future filled with generosity and hope for a brighter future.
What do you wish more people understood about what you do as an organization?
Susan: This is YOUR Community Foundation. People often think of Community Foundations as only serving the very wealthy. Since coming here, I have learned how regular people use their appreciated property, retirement plans, gift annuities and other vehicles for tax benefits and to serve the organizations working on key community issues.
Our work is about inspiring generosity and passion that makes Santa Cruz County a stronger, more vibrant community for all. I am thrilled to get to team up each day with the amazing people dedicated to solving our community’s challenges – now and in the future.
Reprint authorized by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), a regional nonprofit, membership organization consisting of public, private and civic entities located throughout the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz.
Membership information: http://mbep.biz/who-we-are/members/membership-info/