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City of SLO approves grant funding for diversity, equity programs

Courtesy of the SLO Rep
The task force awarded a grant to the San Luis Obispo Repertory Theater, for its focus on bringing the work of BIPOC playwrights to its stage.

This summer during the Black Lives Matter protests, the city of San Luis Obispo created a diversity task force, with a goal of making the city more inclusive. Now, the city is provided grant funding for local nonprofits and programs.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force has selected eight nonprofits to receive a portion of $109,800 in grant money. Task force chairman Amman Asfaw said out of the 20 nonprofits that applied, those selected are focused on the most pressing needs. 

“All of the organizations were very deserving of grant money," Asfaw said. "But, you just have to look at the current moment and context we are in for the city and you have to ask yourself ‘what is it that SLO needs right now?'"

Asfaw said those immediate needs include nonprofits that support the arts, health care, education and literacy.

Rebecca Brogdon is with SLO Noor, a foundation that provides free medical care to uninsured individuals. She said its $20,000 grant will help provide bilingual health and supportive health services. 

“About 75 percent of our patients are people of color and about 60 percent are Spanish-speaking," Brogdan said. "So this is primarily affecting low-income, rural farm working and Hispanic populations.”

$10,000 will go to Literacy for Life, a nonprofit that provides free one-on-one tutoring services for individuals learning English as a second language.

Executive Director Bernadette Bernadi said the grant comes at a crucial time, with the pandemic.

“We serve people that are now one of the pop words, essential workers," Bernadi said. "Many of the people we serve..are out on the front lines helping us all be able to live within this challenging time that we are living in.”

$3,200 will go to One Cool Earth, a nonprofit which helps students throughout SLO County and Northern Santa Barbara County learn about farming practices through school gardens.

Executive Director Dylan Jones said this money will help translate the organization's curriculum for Spanish-speaking students, something they couldn’t offer before. 

“Something that stuck with me that [San Luis Obispo] Mayor Harmon said was ‘this isn’t a cure, it’s not the fix-all,’" Jones said. "So for us, we understand there are a lot of other barriers to what we do, but at least if we can offer our lessons in Spanish as well, it's just a great first step in what we can do.”

Other grant recipients include RACE Matters SLO, Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success, SLO International Film Festival, Diversity Coalition of San Luis Obispo and the SLO Repertory Theater.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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