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Wellness Center at Santa Monica High In Line For City Grant

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

May 29, 2015 -- A Wellness Center at Santa Monica High School that provides physical and mental health services to teens is among nearly two dozen local nonprofits that deserve to receive grants from the City, officials told City Council members Thursday.

Santa Monica City Council members reviewed a staff report on this year's City's Human Services Grant Program (HSGP) program but did not vote Thursday on the report's recommendations to award more than $8.1 million to 22 local nonprofits. A formal vote will come at the Council's June 9 meeting, said Mayor Kevin McKeown.

Karen Ginsberg, director of Community and Cultural Services, said a grant of $170,000 to the Venice Family Clinic represents the first time the City has recommended funding the SAMoHi health center, which the Venice Family Clinic operates in collaboration with several health providers.

Andrea Blackbird, CFO of Venice Family Clinic, told Council members the clinic would use the City's grant to leverage additional donations to expand services to SAMoHi students ages 14-18.

“We're pleased to have the opportunity to expand our services at Santa Monica High School, in partnership with Westside Family Counseling, in the coming years,” said Blackbird.

Council members heard from more than 75 speakers Thursday, many of them expressing their gratitude for the funding. Several were former students helped by the City's Youth Resource Team (YRT), which is designed to get at-risk youth in their late teens and early twenties into skilled jobs.

This year the HSGP received more than $536,000 in Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants and other federal entitlements, and an additional $248,000 in LA County Proposition A funds.

In all, the program had about $743,000 more to dispense than last year, a 10 percent increase and the first significant boost in the program since 2008, said Ginsberg.

“As proposed, the additional funding would be used to scale up the collective impact model of YRT to reach youth under 16 and their families, implement a Wellness Center model at SAMoHi to deliver integrated physical and behavioral health services to high school students,” and increase services to disabled seniors, said Ginsberg.

This year, 24 agencies submitted 50 grant proposals totaling more than $10 million in funding requests, said Ginsberg.

City officials were tough on the applications, which were reviewed by no less than 40 people, including four City commissioners and several outside and in-house experts. Grant winners also must put up  30 percent minimum in matching funds.

Proposals that got rejected by staff duplicated existing programs, or served populations outside the City's target areas, said Ginsberg.

The Center for Civic Mediation's $35,676 proposal for community conflict resolution, OPCC's request for $140,000 for substance abuse treatment, and Santa Monica's Boy's & Girl's Club's $50,000 grant request to fund the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra all duplicated existing programs, according to staff.

The local Boys & Girls Clubs would receive $135,000 for its after-school programs under the staff's recommendation.

Some of the larger grant applicants this year included OPCC, which would receive $862,863, and homeless services provider, Chrysalis, which would receive $286,857 to help 500 low-income and homeless people with job training, reflecting the City's continued commitment to its Action Plan to End Homelessness, staff said in a report.

Clare Foundation would receive two grants totaling more than $150,000 to provide drug and alcohol counseling, health services and other programs for homeless youth and adults. And an agency that helps homeless veterans, New Directions For Veterans, would get $44,605 in grant money.

Eight groups would receive boosts over last year's funding -- Connections for Children, Family Services of Santa Monica/Vista del Mar, Meals on Wheels West, OPCC, St. Joseph's Center, Westside Center for Independent Living, Venice Family Clinic, and WISE & Healthy Aging.

Other grants included $45,446 to Connections for Children to provide a “kindergarten readiness” program for 650 Santa Monica public school children, $171,201 to The Growing Place Marine Park to subsidize daycare for 58 children from moderate- and low-income families, and $479,219 to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles to provide free legal services to up to 900 residents.

Family Services of Santa Monica/Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services would receive three separate grants totaling more than $400,000 to provide mental health services for hundreds of local school children.

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