BARSTOW A major charitable foundation boosted its giving to Barstow nonprofits last year, but the groups are still underfunded compared to other areas of the state.

The Community Foundation, which serves Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, more than doubled its charitable giving from the previous year. The foundation awarded $59,333 in grants to six Barstow nonprofits, up from $23,948 in 2010.

With the economy continuing to struggle, the organization saw a need for increasing grant levels, said Sharilyn Hunke, communications officer for the Community Foundation. The foundation raised a record $9.1 million in 2011.

Despite the increase, San Bernardino County nonprofits receive, on average, about $3 in grants per capita, compared with $119 per capita statewide.

In Barstow, the largest beneficiaries were the Barstow Unified School District, which received $22,900, and Barstow Community College, which brought in $13,433.

At the school district, that money paid for a $22,000 shade structure at the Hinkley School and a $900 student computer. PG&E had donated a solar panel for the students to use, but the computer available to control it did not function well, said Teresa Healey, assistant superintendent of educational services.

Barstow Community College received $13,433 to fund student scholarships a more than three-fold increase from the previous year's grant of $4,448. The increase allowed the college to provide scholarships to 66 students, instead of 40, and to increase the size of each student's scholarship, Barstow Community College District spokeswoman Maureen Stokes said.

Hunke said part of that grant was based on a formula the foundation uses for all community colleges in the region to provide funding based on enrollment levels. The other portion is a fixed-rate grant established by a particular donor.

High Desert New Beginnings, which provides tutoring and early childhood development services, used its $10,000 grant to fund its tutoring program for students at Central High School. The funds pay for one paid tutor to work with the school's continuation students.

"You don't want them to drop out," said Donna Roberts, the organization's director.

After losing Community Development Block Grant funds last year, the Community Foundation grant became even more important. The organization was able to maintain the program but had to cut back on special events, like field trips, that it could no longer afford.

At its Feb. 14 meeting, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors set aside $225,000 toward nonprofit organization capacity building and $137,500 toward grant writing.

The Chief Executive Officer's office could have an outline on specific activities related to helping nonprofits as early as next month, according to Andy Silva, spokesman for 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.

The county chose to allocate the money to the Community Foundation and the High Desert Resources Network in Phelan, which provides training and resources to more than 200 nonprofits.

Nonprofits with similar missions can find more success applying for grants together, instead of competing against each other, Hunke said. "A fractional percentage of something is better than 100 percent of nothing."

Staff Writer Natasha Lindstrom contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com

Community Foundation grants to Barstow nonprofits in 2011
Barstow Unified School District - $22,900
Barstow Community College District - $13,433
Mojave Valley Volunteer Hospice - $10,000
High Desert New Beginnings, Inc. - $10,000
Mojave Valley United Fund - $2,500
Bethany Christian Fellowship - $500