Next In Our Backyard Event is April 24, 2024

The Community Foundation aims to be a catalyst and connector for positive change in the community. We provide opportunities for donors to understand the community’s needs and experience the impact of their philanthropy. We review data, research trends and collect feedback from our nonprofit partners.  Our donor education series, affectionately called “In Our Backyard,” offers you a chance to expand your knowledge and awareness about the happenings in your local community. You’ll hear from industry experts in a panel forum and engage in a lively Q&A with the audience. We design topics around various issues, including the arts and culture, environment, vulnerable populations, health and human services, education, and more.

The Spring 2024 topics include Mental Health and Families Under Pressure. The Fall sessions will be announced soon.

Event Recap: We held the first In Our Backyard event in March, focusing on the crucial topic of mental health. It aimed to elevate our understanding of adults, children, and their families living with a mental health diagnosis. We heard from experts Jill Bolster-White and Roberto Cueva from the Transitions-Mental Health Association, as well as Kamela Proulx from the Atascadero High School Wellness Center. We learned about the increased mental health needs of youth in our community, the breadth of programming now available to help address the increased needs, and where the gaps in services exist. We were encouraged to learn of the Central Coast Hotline, our community’s only 24/7, 365-day free, confidential mental health guidance, crisis, and suicide prevention line. Please consider adding the hotline to your phone and sharing it with others at 1-800-783-0607.

Additional Mental Health Information:

The California Healthy Kids Survey is an excellent resource for data on student mental health. You can access their Data Dashboard by clicking here.

March E-Newsletter

Dear Fiends,

As we eagerly welcome the arrival of spring, it brings with it a sense of renewal and anticipation for the vibrant days ahead. Just as nature blossoms with new life, we too find ourselves embarking on exciting developments at The Community Foundation.

In March, we devoted attention to Women’s History Month, a time to honor the remarkable women in our community who fearlessly lead nonprofits. Their dedication is a testament to the transformative impact that women continue to make in shaping our community’s narrative.

On Employee Appreciation Day, we took a moment to express our gratitude to the incredible team at The Community Foundation for their outstanding efforts, especially in light of our recent recognition as recipients of the Blue Diamond “Change Makers” award by SLO County Family-Friendly Workplaces. Their unwavering commitment and passion contribute immensely to making this organization an exceptional place to work. We celebrate each member of our team for their invaluable contributions. Learn more about our staff.

We also carry heavy hearts as we reflect on the loss of one of our own. Dr. Brendan “Ben” McAdams, a philanthropist of SLO County whose dedication and generosity leaves a lasting mark on our community. Ben’s enduring legacy echoes far and wide, touching lives and igniting inspiration. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who join us in commemorating his memory.

Looking ahead, The Community Foundation’s annual events are just around the corner. We warmly encourage you to consider joining us as an essential participant in these initiatives. Your support ensures the success of these events and strengthens our collective impact.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our mission. Together, we look forward to a bright season of growth, appreciation, and community connection.

~Heidi McPherson, CEO Community Foundation San Luis Obispo

Read Full Newsletter.

Tips for Local Giving this Holiday Season

With hundreds of active nonprofits in San Luis Obispo County, there are many options available for giving during the Holiday Season that will ensure your tax-deductible contributions support our community. The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is here to simplify your year-end giving. Let us be your guide — we’ll handle the research, starting with these tips you can use to maximize the benefits of supporting your community.

Use a Donor Advised Fund (DAF): A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) opens up the world of philanthropy to donors who want to address community needs in San Luis Obispo County and beyond. You can enjoy full tax deductions now and contribute to the fund as frequently as you like, and then recommend grants to your favorite nonprofit organizations whenever it makes sense for you.

If you already have a fund held at The Community Foundation, you can easily recommend a distribution to the charity of your choice. For grants you wish to distribute in 2023, please contact before December 16. This is the preferred date to submit recommendations to provide the best chance of grantees receiving funds before December 31.

Use your IRA for Charity: Contributing from your IRA directly to The Community Foundation is an easy way to reduce your tax burden and make a gift to support multiple causes that are meaningful to you. The transfer must be to a qualified exempt nonprofit and may be for a designated purpose or field of interest fund. Make sure to contact your financial advisor for more information. 

Gifts of Cash:  You can donate to The Community Foundation directly by check, with cash, through our website, or however is easiest for you. You can trust us to help direct your contribution to a cause in SLO County or beyond. 

Gifts of Stock:  Donating appreciated stock offers you a way to support causes you care about while potentially enjoying a more cost-efficient deduction based on the current market value, not just what you originally paid. If your stocks have grown significantly since you bought them, donating them directly to a nonprofit like us can provide you with a deduction for their current value while bypassing taxes on potential gains. This means more of your contribution goes towards making a difference in our community.


Gifts of Property or Land: Donating real estate is a powerful way to fulfill your charitable aspirations while maximizing your tax benefits within legal boundaries.There are many ways that you can gift property to receive tax benefits and maximize your estate planning. The Community Foundation has established the Real Estate Foundation of San Luis Obispo County specifically for property gifts to alleviate property upkeep concerns, sales, insurance, and taxes for you and your family.

Your donations shape our community’s future. Partner with us to make a difference that lasts beyond the holiday season. Reach out to Donor Services at for personalized assistance. 

**The tips and information shared here are for educational purposes only and should not be considered official financial advice. We encourage readers to seek personalized guidance from a certified financial advisor for their specific financial needs.**

The Community Foundation will continue processing grants and issuing payments through the end of the year, but external factors such as delayed postal service or organizations closing offices for holidays, can impact when grantees receive funds. As a reminder, there is no tax implication for donors when grantees receive Foundation funds.

Honoring Excellence in Education: The Julian Crocker Community Scholarship Fund

The Julian Crocker Community Scholarship Fund – held at The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County – is a community fund which pays tribute to Dr. Julian Crocker, a leader and advocate in our community for education access. The former San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools has been a vocal advocate for public education and an outstanding ambassador for the community.

The fund’s mission is to make post-secondary education accessible to a broader range of San Luis Obispo County residents, irrespective of their financial circumstances.

“It is an honor to have established this scholarship fund in the
name of Dr. Julian Crocker and to recognize his leadership and
commitment to our students. We continue to build upon his legacy and his ongoing dedication to supporting students’ pursuit of higher education.” – Heidi McPherson, CEO


Through this scholarship, individuals can aspire to achieve their educational goals and create brighter futures for themselves and their community; it provides hope and support to those who may have otherwise struggled to access post-secondary education.

Who Is Eligible for the Julian Crocker Community Scholarship? San Luis Obispo residents who demonstrate financial need. It particularly favors two groups of students:

  • Transferring students: Those transitioning from a community college to a four-year college or university.
  • Career technical education (CTE) seekers: Individuals pursuing degrees or certificates in career technical education at accredited institutions.

And the best part? The more the community contributes, the more students can achieve. Every member of the community is welcomed to contribute to this scholarship, making a direct and positive impact on the educational journey of our future leaders.

Join us in celebrating the legacy of Dr. Julian Crocker and the promise of a brighter, more educated future for San Luis Obispo County. Your support, no matter how big or small, brings us one step closer to a more inclusive, vibrant, and educated community for all.


Julian Crocker Community Scholarship Fund


#25for25 Feature: An Open Letter from Jane Sinton

An open letter to the community from Jane Sinton about our Foundation’s humble beginnings, the Women’s Legacy Fund, and the amazing impacts that began with these passionate ideas. 

This feature is part of our #25for25 showcase where we highlight 25 stories to mark our 25 years of philanthropy in SLO County. These partners and community members have allowed the Foundation to continue giving and growing – together!

“When Dee Lacey first called me about helping to start a community foundation in San Luis Obispo County, she billed it as ‘you get to just give money away!’ Well, how could you say no to that? I should have known there was a hitch! In the beginning, we had to convince people to put money into the endowment before we could earn interest and be able to give that money away.

In hindsight, helping to start the Foundation and being the founding Board President was one of the most rewarding and hardest things I have done in my life. Now, here we are celebrating 25 years! We have given $66 million dollars back into the community to support people who need assistance. What I love about the Foundation is that we now have so many stories to tell about helping local people improve their lives. Real stories about real human beings in need – how we have helped to lift them up in life. We have stories of helping students go to college, helping the homeless find housing, helping save the environment, helping people with disabilities. The list goes on.

One of my favorite stories about the early days of the Foundation is when we had our first grants awards ceremony. We had very little money to give away, but we tried to make it count. It was the Turtle and Tortoise Club – a very modest club with few members, but they were passionate about taking turtles and tortoises around the county to schools to educate the kids. I think they asked for $200 to help with the gas money. When we awarded it to them at a wonderfully intimate awards gathering, they were so excited! It wasn’t a big grant, but it had a big impact on the people who were passionately dedicated to teaching kids about turtles and tortoises, as well as the kids who benefitted from their passion. Those were humble beginnings but stories like this drove us to work harder. That then convinced donors to give to their own passions to help us build a permanent endowment that will permanently help our community. Now we are able to give away thousands of dollars in multi-year grants to organizations that do the wonderful work of helping people in this community.

One of the things that makes CFSLOCO unique is that we all share information on what things have worked and what hasn’t worked. Early on in the Foundation’s evolution, I keyed in on one idea that really interested me – a Women’s Legacy Fund. Many community foundations across the country have some version of a women’s fund that builds an endowment to benefit women and girls. In 2002, the women serving on the Board of The Community Foundation got together and went to work. We set a goal of raising $100,000 to create a fund that could start giving away earnings within a few years. Women from across the county jumped in and signed up as Legacy Leaders for $1,000 each. We raised the first $100,000 in just three months. The fund is now at $2 million, and we have given more than $600,000 to organizations and programs focused on helping women and girls. And we have dozens of stories from our nonprofit partners of women and girls who have benefitted – by getting an education, leaving abusive relationships, learning financial literacy, leaving homelessness behind, becoming more self-confident, and bettering their lives and the lives of their families.

After serving more than 12 years on the Board, I termed out, but I just couldn’t leave the organization that I feel so passionate about. I have since sat on every committee that will have me – which turns out to be all of them! My most recent committee experience brings me full circle. I am a current member of the Grantmaking Committee. While on the Board, I concentrated my efforts on building an endowment and organizing the committees we needed to do our work effectively. The only committee I hadn’t served on was the grants committee. It’s particularly gratifying because, 25 years after Dee told me I would get to give money away, I am still helping to give the money away! What a rewarding experience that has been!

I have been able to watch The Community Foundation in action, giving back to people in the community. In particular, during the pandemic, it was incredible to see our donors’ tremendous response to the increased need across the county. The Community Foundation was able to support so many nonprofits who were then able to assist people who were suffering, and the agencies struggling to help them. It has been my honor and privilege, with so many other wonderful, hardworking, dedicated people – both Staff and Board – to build this Foundation that has made such a difference in the lives of people in this community!”

Final Five Grantees Revealed: Celebrating 25 Years of Community Impact

In celebration of our 25th anniversary, we embarked on a journey at the start of 2023 to make a lasting impact on our beloved community. To honor this milestone, we decided to give back in a meaningful way, allocating $100,000 to support local nonprofits dedicated to the causes close to the hearts of SLO County residents.

From June to September, we proudly granted $5,000 each to fifteen remarkable organizations tirelessly working to enhance the well-being of our entire community. As we prepare to conclude our anniversary celebrations in the months ahead, we are thrilled to introduce the final five grantees who have received a $5,000 gift from our $100,000 fund:

  1. 5 Cities Homeless Coalition: Committed to addressing homelessness in our region, 5CHC provides the resources, support, and hope that families and individuals need to become self-sufficient, productive community members.
  2. Basin Street Regulars: A champion of the arts dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional jazz by providing a place where jazz musicians can play.
  3. Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County: Seeks a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community through advocacy and education.
  4. Shower the People: This compassionate initiative provides hygiene services to individuals experiencing homelessness, restoring dignity and hope.
  5. South County Youth Coalition: Focused on empowering our youth, this coalition offers vital programs and resources to help young people thrive in our community.

In total, we have awarded $100,000 to twenty outstanding nonprofit organizations across San Luis Obispo County:

  1. Boys and Girls Club of the Mid-Central Coast
  2. Lumina Alliance
  3. Promotores Collaborative
  4. The Link
  5. Paso Robles Youth Arts Center
  6. City Farm SLO
  7. SLO Food Bank
  8. SLO Repertory Theatre
  9. SLO Children’s Museum
  10. SLO YMCA
  11. Community Foundation of Estero Bay
  12. Friends of the Elephant Seals
  13. Los Osos Cares
  14. Meals that Connect
  15. Pacific Wildlife Center
  16. 5 Cities Homeless Coalition
  17. Basin Street Regulars
  18. Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County
  19. Shower the People
  20. South County Youth Coalition

The impact these organizations have on our community is immeasurable, and we couldn’t be prouder to support their work. While we wish we could have provided grants to all the deserving nonprofits in our county, we are confident that our ongoing commitment and services will continue to bolster the diverse array of organizations that tirelessly serve our community

With our mission to support nonprofits in our community, we invite you to consider making a donation to The Community Foundation. Your contribution will go a long way in helping us continue this vital work for the next 25 years, ensuring a brighter future for San Luis Obispo County.

Make a donation to The Community Foundation at

5 North Coast Grantees Receive $5K from Anniversary Fund

To mark our 25th anniversary, this year we’ve proudly granted $5,000 to ten local organizations spanning the county, all passionately dedicated to enhancing the well-being of our entire community.

Today, we are happy to announce the next 5 grantees receiving $5,000 as a gift to celebrate 25 years of philanthropy in SLO County. The following organizations are dedicated to creating a positive impact on the north coast of San Luis Obispo:

  1. Community Foundation of Estero Bay provides recreational participation financial assistance to children living in the Estero Bay area of Los Osos, Morro Bay, Cayucos, and Cambria
  2. Friends of the Elephant Seals is dedicated to educating people about elephant seals and other marine life and to teaching stewardship for the ocean off the central coast of California.
  3. Los Osos Cares serves the residents of Estero Bay to provide access to information, referrals and services within employment, economic sustainability, health, housing and transportation.
  4. Meals that Connect provides free, healthy, noontime meals to over 1,000 seniors 60+ throughout San Luis Obispo County.
  5. Pacific Wildlife Center is San Luis Obispo County’s only licensed rehabilitation center that cares for injured birds, mammals, and reptiles.

We want to extend our sincere congratulations to these organizations. Your dedication to our community is inspiring, and we’re proud to stand with you.

In total, that’s $75,000 awarded to 15 nonprofit organizations across San Luis Obispo County:

  1. Boys and Girls Club of the Mid-Central Coast
  2. Lumina Alliance
  3. Promotores Collaborative
  4. The Link
  5. Paso Robles Youth Arts Center
  6. City Farm SLO
  7. SLO Food Bank
  8. SLO Repertory Theatre
  9. SLO Children’s Museum
  10. SLO YMCA
  11. Community Foundation of Estero Bay
  12. Friends of the Elephant Seals
  13. Los Osos Cares
  14. Meals that Connect
  15. Pacific Wildlife Center

…and we still have 5 more to go! Stay tuned to learn who the final 5 grant recipients will be as we close out the rest of our 25th anniversary celebrations this year.

A donation goes a long way – to help us support more nonprofits in our community, consider making a donation to The Community Foundation at

5 Additional Grantees Receive $5K from Anniversary Fund

We’re sure you’ve heard by now that 2023 has been a special year for us and our community  as we celebrate 25 years of community engagement and positive change. Back in May, we announced a heartfelt gift of $100,000 to bolster local nonprofits—a testament to our ongoing dedication to fostering a stronger community fabric.

We announced the first five grant recipients at a kick-off celebration: The Boys and Girls Club of the Mid-Central Coast, Lumina Alliance, Promotores Collaborative, The Link, and Paso Robles Youth Arts Center. These worthy organizations each received $5,000 grants, amounting to a combined support of $25,000.

Fueling this momentum, we recently invited our community to join us at a summer celebration in July. Surrounded by 250 neighbors and friends, we announced five more grantees:

  1. City Farm SLO – Empowering the next generation to live healthier, more prosperous lives through sustainable agriculture and farm-based education.
  2. SLO Food Bank – Alleviates hunger in San Luis Obispo County in order to build a stronger community.
  3. SLO Repertory Theatre – Strengthens theatre’s cultural influence by nurturing artists and providing theatre education for children and adults.
  4. SLO Children’s Museum – Inspires learning through play within a rich environment of interactive exhibits and programs in the arts, sciences and humanities.
  5. SLO YMCA – Offers values-based programs that build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.

Each grantee took the stage, sharing their impactful work, future plans, and ignited a spark of inspiration within the hearts of those present. With $50,000 from the grant pool pending, we still have 10 more grantees to go! Upcoming regional events will allocate the remaining $50,000 of this community gift, ensuring even more nonprofits in our community receive the vital support they need to flourish.

Kayla Rutland, Executive Director of City Farm SLO

Our eyes remain steadfast on the horizon, and our commitment to serving, uplifting, and nurturing our community endures. We envision a future where our collective efforts continue to ignite change, foster growth, and inspire others to stand alongside us in creating a world of boundless possibilities. Here’s to the past 25 years of impact and the limitless potential of the years to come.

Check back soon for grantee announcements and further updates as we continue our journey of community support and collaboration.

A donation goes a long way! To help us support more nonprofits in our community, consider making a donation to The Community Foundation at

Festival Mozaic and CFSLOCO: A Partnership Enriching Community Through Music

This feature is part of our #25for25 showcase where we highlight 25 stories to mark our 25 years of philanthropy in SLO County. These partners and community members have allowed the Foundation to continue giving and growing – together!

In the heart of California’s Central Coast, a remarkable partnership has thrived for a quarter of a century, bringing the art of music to San Luis Obispo County. Festival Mozaic – an annual celebration of music and one of the original grantees of the Community Foundation in 1999 – captivates audiences and fosters cultural enrichment through chamber music concerts, orchestra performances, crossover and popular artists, dinners and educational events, and more. With each passing year, Festival Mozaic has reaffirmed its commitment to artistic excellence, forging a lasting legacy that echoes throughout the region.

Festival Mozaic has been a grantee of The Community Foundation for many years. They have remained steadfast in their mission to provide the joy of live performances to the friends and families of San Luis Obispo County. Founded in 1971, Festival Mozaic has become a premier destination music experience unique to San Luis Obispo County. The roots of the festival can be traced back to the visionary minds of Clifton Swanson, Ronald Ratcliffe, and John Russell, three music professors at the California Polytechnic State University. In May 1970, they conceived the idea of a summer music festival and launched the inaugural season of the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival in 1971. Performances since have been featured in venues across the county from Shandon to Nipomo. 

Today, Festival Mozaic stands as a testament to the founders’ vision and the enduring spirit of classical music. They have expanded their programming to encompass a wide range of musical genres, creating a captivating symphony of music and settings and even offering free and reduced-price community events like mini-concerts, family concerts, master classes, lectures, and open rehearsals. 

Through the support of CFSLOCO, Festival Mozaic has been able to enhance awareness and accessibility to their programs, reaching more individuals in the community. The launch of a smartphone app and mobile website has provided convenient access to festival offerings, furthering their impact. In 2001, Festival Mozaic became the first recipient of a competitive grant from CFSLOCO for a family concert and educational outreach, marking the foundation of their long-standing collaboration.

“Grants from the Foundation have played a crucial and instrumental role in stabilizing, empowering, and ensuring the continued success and growth of Festival Mozaic, ensuring that irrespective of budget constraints, the magic of experiencing live music continues to resonate throughout the community,” says Lloyd Tanner, Executive Director of Festival Mozaic. “We’re especially thankful to The Community Foundation for sponsoring our Midday Mini-Concerts this year.”

As we celebrate 25 years of philanthropy this year, The Community Foundation takes great pleasure in sponsoring Festival Mozaic’s 2023 Midday Mini-Concert Series. By offering a contribution towards these events, we aim to enhance accessibility and enable a wider audience to experience the magic of these performances, and foster the profound impact that philanthropy has had, and continues to have, on our community throughout the years.

The Midday Mini-Concert series is just one of many series included in this year’s Summer Music Festival that CFSLOCO is proud to support. The Summer Music Festival takes place from July 24 – July 28 and includes over 20 events in total. Midday Mini-Concerts are free to the public, and will feature exceptional artists at unique venues across the County. Find the concert nearest you and join in! 

  • Friday, July 28 – Jessica Oudin, Alice Dade, Alex Wasserman – Community Presbyterian Church

“Festival Mozaic has been and remains an extraordinary presence, enriching our community through the power of music,” says Heidi McPherson, CEO of The Community Foundation. “We are honored to support the important work of Festival Mozaic as they have grown and expanded over the years, bringing the highest quality performances to our Central Coast residents and visitors.”

To learn more about Festival Mozaic and their upcoming Summer Festival, please visit their website at

Policies – Donor Advised Funds

The policies linked below are referenced in our Donor Advised Handbook and are here to support you in setting up a fund. Click on the links below to open a policy in a new tab on your browser. For any questions regarding these policies or for inquiries about Donor Advised Funds, please contact us at 805-543-2323 or email

Connect With Us
Heidi H. McPherson Chief Executive Officer (805) 543-2323