The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County logo
March 2019 Edition
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead

Dear Members of The Community Foundation Family,

In light of Women's History Month, we hope you enjoy the above quote from Margaret Mead. Just as our Foundation visionaries started with an idea of creating a place of everlasting support for our community, we know that our family of nonprofits, donors, and community members are the path to improving the quality of life in our communities.

Our partnerships across all sectors-- public, private, and philanthropic-- are vital to achieving the exponential impact we can make in San Luis Obispo County when we all work together.  Through our shared commitment and engagement we can create long lasting solutions to better our community for years to come. Thank you for your ongoing support - we couldn't do it without you!


Heidi H. McPherson
Chief Executive Officer
Spotlights and Highlights
Community Needs Grants
The Community Needs Grant program brings together multiple funds to respond to current needs in the county and support local nonprofit organizations in achieving their missions. The primary goal of the 2019 Grants Program is to provide funding for agencies and programs that directly address community needs as identified by local needs assessments and other sources. The Foundation will consider proposals that address one of the following community needs with a focus on direct services: Arts & Culture, Environment, Human Services, Seniors and People with Disabilities. Applications for the Community Needs Grant program will be accepted HERE until April 19, 2019.
Growing Together at Pride in the Plaza
Supporting Education for Allo
SLO Symphony Petting Zoo
Senior Nutrition Program Home Delivered Meals
Join Us at the Women of Distinction Awards March 21

The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County’s Women’s Legacy Fund partners with Cuesta College each March to celebrate the Women of Distinction Awards. The awards will honor five Central Coast women for their professional and civic contributions.

Community and Public Service, Professional - Simone Y. Hosey
Community and Public Service, Volunteer - Jessica L. Lorance
Progress for Women - Janet Wallace
Susan Dressler Educational Leadership - DJ Pittenger
Grace N. Mitchell Lifetime Achievement - Eve Vigil

The awards ceremony will be held at Cuesta College on Thursday, March 21, 2019 from 4-6pm. Tickets for this event are available online until March 18 HERE. The ceremony and awards celebrate Women’s History Month (March) and recognize the contribution that women have made in the areas of volunteering in the community, their profession and in philanthropy. To read more about past recipients, please click HERE.

Image: This years' Women of Distinction Award honorees: Simone Hosey, Jessica Lorance, Janet Wallace, DJ Pittenger and Eve Vigil.
2019 Women of Distinction Honorees
Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship Awarded

The Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship has announced this year’s recipient: Grace Shirley, age 15, who is an honors student at Templeton Independent Study High School. The $2,500 scholarship will provide support for Grace to attend a summer intensive ballet training program at Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco in July. Read more about Grace and this scholarship HERE

Jennifer Thoma was professionally accomplished, warm, generous, and kind. She was also passionate about dance – particularly classical ballet. She attended hundreds of performances, drove their daughter to countless rehearsals, sewed costumes, raised funds, was a board member of the Gilbert Reed Ballet Company, and in her spare time, did a little dancing herself. 

Unfortunately, the Thoma family lost Jennifer to a battle with cancer in 2010. Like many survivors who lose a loved one, Bill, Jeffrey and Jessica wanted to honor Jennifer’s memory in a way that reflected her passion for the arts. They also desired to get something set up quickly so people wanting to memorialize her with a contribution would know how to do it.

Bill was fortunately directed to The Community Foundation by a friend, who knew exactly how to get this done. Almost instantly, the Foundation set up the Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship, devoted to supporting what Jennifer loved most: talented youngsters learning to dance ballet. At Jennifer’s memorial many donations were received by the family for this scholarship. Today, Bill and family as well as family friends and supporters of ballet,  continue to seed and augment the fund in Jennifer’s memory for the benefit for young and up and coming students of classical ballet.

“Our family missed our wife and mother," Bill shared, "but through it all, we have been able to heal, knowing that her legacy and memory lives on through dance through this wonderful performing art.”

Contact the Foundation if you are interested in learning more about gift options.

Grace Shirley
Grace Shirley jump
Jeff, Bill, Jennifer and Jessica Thoma
Celebrating 25 Years of Film
Each year the Foundation supports the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival by sponsoring film screenings that highlight issues important to our community. This year is the 25th anniversary of the festival from March 13-17 and we are proud to have the Women's Legacy Fund and the Growing Together Initiative Fund sponsor the following impactful documentaries. 
  • Afghan Cycles is a feature documentary about a generation of Afghan women who are pedaling their own revolution, aggressively challenging gender and cultural barriers using the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom, empowerment and social change. This inspiring film beautifully documents the indomitable spirit of a small but powerful group of athletes who hope to make the journey easier for future generations. 
  • Light in the Water is a documentary about the West Hollywood Aquatics Club which was formed in 1982 as the first openly gay swim and water polo club that shattered both world records and homophobic stereotypes. This film follows their battle for acceptance: from their humble beginnings, to how these men and women have become a renowned force fighting injustice in the world of competitive sports and dive into four decades of LGBTQ history. 
For more information go to or click on movie images below. Tickets are available for purchase online and will also be sold at the venue on a first-come, first-served basis. For more info call 805-546-3456.
Afghan Cycles
Foundation Stories on YouTube
Have you seen our YouTube page? The Foundation posts videos of our Women's Legacy Fund Luncheon, Women of Distinction Award ceremonies, Growing Together Initiative Fund Pride Award ceremony, and more. Click on the video below to watch our 20th Anniversary celebration videos. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook for the latest updates.
The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County videos
Click here to view the Foundation YouTube page.
Important Dates
March 14-17: Foundation Sponsored Films Showing at SLO Film Festival
March 21: Women of Distinction Awards
March 29: Opportunity to Thrive Grant Proposal Deadline
April 18: National Give OUT Day for the LGBTQ Community
April 19: Community Needs Grant Proposal Deadline
You can make a difference!
The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is a grant making and education foundation that provides support to charitable organizations throughout our county. The Foundation has provided almost $35 million in grants and scholarships since 1998 and our charitable assets under management have grown to nearly $60 million, and provide support to all aspects of our community in perpetuity. For further information or to donate to any fund, please call 805-543-2323.
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Copyright © 2019 The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, All rights reserved.

The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County
550 Dana Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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