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RSF Foundation Grants $200,000 for ‘Advancing Education’

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation is pleased to reveal the recipients of our inaugural Advancing Education grant cycle: A Step Beyond and Casa de Amistad. Both nonprofit organizations have a significant impact in addressing educational disparities in their communities. They will use the grant awards to continue their important work in reducing the impact of learning loss for young students.

A Step Beyond, located in Escondido, is a creative 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.

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.

Representatives from both organizations joined us at a grantee reception to meet with Rancho Santa Fe Foundation leaders and to recognize their efforts to promote equitable access to educational opportunities.

About the ‘Advancing Education’ Impact Pillar

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation’s Advancing Education Impact Pillar is designed to support nonprofit organizations working to create a seamless pipeline of learning opportunities, starting with early childhood education and continuing through K-12, post-secondary education and workforce development. Through this grantmaking initiative, we seek to catalyze sustainable solutions to educational disparities in San Diego’s diverse communities. 

The grants awarded to A Step Beyond and Casa de Amistad are “unrestricted,” meaning the organizations have the autonomy to use the funds in any way to further their mission. At Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, we embrace participatory grantmaking which actively involves the community impacted in the decision-making process. This ensures that community needs and insights directly shape equitable funding choices.

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.

Celebrating Genuine Partnerships for Good

“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.”

“With heartfelt gratitude, A Step Beyond thanks Rancho Santa Fe Foundation for this generous Advancing Education grant, a beacon of hope guiding our youth and families,” said James Wright, CEO, A Step Beyond. “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.” 

“The students, parents, volunteers and staff at Casa de Amistad are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to be awarded the Advancing Education grant from Rancho Santa Fe Foundation,” said Nicole Mione-Green, executive director, Casa de Amistad. “Casa de Amistad is committed to bridging the enrichment and learning gaps that exist locally in our community. 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.”

A Collaborative Approach to Grantmaking

The Advancing Education Impact Pillar is one of three grantmaking focus areas for the Foundation. The others are Building Healthy Communities, which supports San Diego nonprofit organizations that promote physical, mental and environmental health, and Supporting Our Heroes, which awards grants to local nonprofits that advance critical work to support military service members, veterans and their families.

Our approach to grantmaking operates on principles rooted in fostering genuine partnerships, amplifying community voices and ensuring equitable access to resources. The Foundation recognizes the invaluable expertise of local organizations and aims to build strong, trusting relationships to maximize the impact of its philanthropic investments.

Through our collaborative grantmaking pillars, donors have the added benefit of knowing that each nonprofit has been vetted through an application process that is reviewed not just by our staff and Grants and Projects Committee, but also by an expert Grants Advisory Panel (GAP) whose members include volunteers with expertise and professional experience as well as lived experience in the respective impact area.

The Advancing Education GAP is a diverse mix of community members, education professionals, nonprofit leaders and Rancho Santa Fe Foundation board members, including: 

We are grateful to this wonderful team of volunteers for lending their time and experience in partnering with us during this cycle. Thank you all!

Next Grant Cycle Focuses on Youth Mental Health

Our next grant cycle will concentrate on communities and organizations working to improve youth mental health in San Diego County. Nonprofit organizations are invited to submit letters of intent beginning January 24, 2024. For more information, please visit our Building Healthy Communities webpage.

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation continues its mission of transforming communities through strategic philanthropy. Stay tuned for updates on more impactful initiatives!