Sebastopol Rotary Club community grant applications due soon

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, January 24, 2021

West county organizations that would like to receive a Rotary Community Grant must submit applications by Monday, Feb. 8, according to the club’s website.

The online application invites applicants to describe their status if they are not a tax-exempt organization. Those interested can apply at this link: https://sebastopolrotary.com/sitepage/community-grants.

Grant committee co-chair Cindy Carter said the Rotary Club offers grants from $500 to a maximum of $5,000 this round, though the club’s webpage for grant information said offerings start at $501.

The grants can apply to capital equipment or projects, according to the webpage. “It can be any type of capital equipment depending on the business you’re in,” Carter said, such as woodworking machines for Analy High School’s Project Make or ovens and fridges for the Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol.

The webpage listed criteria such as emphasis in Sebastopol and west county, long-term impact and overall community benefit. Another qualification under consideration is whether the organization faces a “lack of alternative funding services.”

The online grant information also states the community grants will not finance operational costs or travel expenses. Carter said salaries and rent are examples of operational expenses that will not be funded through the grants.

She said the club tries to offer two rounds of the annual grants and that this round is actually the offering postponed from last fall.

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol has a $15,000 pot of grant funding to give out this time, compared to its usual $3[1] 0,000 to $35,000 or so “because people are hurting,” she said. While the need for funding has always been great, organizations in west county are in a similar position, she said. “Every organization of every type is hurting in west county. In the whole entire country.”

Carter said, “As you can imagine, with COVID, we can’t have fundraising events, so life is a little bit different. So, things have gotten delayed and postponed, so our fall fundraiser is now scheduled for May and we’re still at this point not knowing if we’re going to be inside or outside or totally remote.”

She clarified the May fundraiser is to raise funds for community grants to be offered in autumn of 2021. She said the club hosts a live and silent auction for the large fundraiser raising money for the $500 to $5,000 community grants. “And the problem was, last year, it was scheduled the day we all got evacuated out of Sebastopol because of the fires,” she said. Fewer people were able to make the new date after the fundraiser was postponed, she said.

“It’s been a very tough climate for many years. Small businesses were hurting because of the fires and people lost their homes, so they obviously weren’t in the community spending money,” Carter said, with COVID-19 adding to the challenges.

“But you know, this year, once COVID’s over, we’re hoping to be back in gear and moving forward,” Carter said.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com