The Coast News Group
A Step Beyond is an Escondido-based youth development organization that provides free after-school dance classes, academic support and social services. Courtesy photo
CommunityCommunityCommunityEscondidoNewsRancho Santa FeRegion

Foundation awards $200K to local orgs tackling learning loss

RANCHO SANTA FE — Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, a leading philanthropic force committed to transforming communities in San Diego, announced the first nonprofit recipients of their new “Advancing Education” grants program to address local learning loss: A Step Beyond and Casa de Amistad.

A Step Beyond, located in Escondido, is a youth development organization serving youth and their families living at or below the poverty line with free after-school dance classes, academic support and social services. A Step Beyond received a $100,000 grant award that will be distributed over two years.

A Step Beyond CEO James Wright expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” for the award on behalf of the organization.

“This support not only aids in overcoming COVID-19-induced learning loss but also illuminates a promising path for our students to reach and fulfill their dreams,” Wright said.

Solana Beach-based Casa de Amistad, a community outreach program that works to strengthen underserved youth and families through tutoring, mentoring and enrichment activities, also received a $100,000 grant award that will be distributed annually over two years.

Casa de Amistad Executive Director Nicole Mione-Green said her team was also incredibly grateful for the award.

“Casa de Amistad is committed to bridging the enrichment and learning gaps that exist locally in our community,” Mione-Green said. “With the support of Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, we look forward to working collaboratively with local agencies to improve the learning outcomes of our students.”

These grants are unrestricted awards, giving the organizations the autonomy to shape their projects in response to the specific needs of the communities they serve. The first $50,000 grants were awarded in December 2023, and the remaining $50,000 grants will be awarded in December 2024, for a total of $100,000 awarded to each organization over two years.

Awarding multi-year grants – as opposed to one-time grants – allows for increased sustainability, more freedom to innovate, and reduces the administrative load for grant applicants, among other benefits, according to the foundation.

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation’s “Advancing Education” impact pillar is designed to support nonprofit organizations working to create learning opportunities starting with early childhood education and continuing through K-12, post-secondary education and workforce development.

The foundation seeks to catalyze sustainable solutions to educational disparities that persist and cause learning loss among San Diego’s diverse communities.

“A Step Beyond and Casa de Amistad exemplify the spirit of our ‘Advancing Education’ impact pillar,” said Karen Sprigle, interim president and CEO, Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. “By supporting endeavors that address learning loss in third through eighth-grade students in San Diego County, we believe we can bridge educational gaps – gaps that only widened during the pandemic – and create a ripple effect to positively impact our region’s academic landscape for generations to come. These organizations are embedded in the communities they serve, doing the work. With unrestricted grant awards, they have the freedom to deploy funding as they see fit for maximum impact.”

The “Advancing Education” impact pillar is one of three grant-making focus areas for the foundation, which also includes “Building Healthy Communities” and “Supporting Our Heroes” pillars.

Leave a Comment