A class of undergraduate students at UCLA awarded $20,000 to Santa Monica-based homeless services provider OPCC (formerly known as the Ocean Park Community Center) earlier this month.
The funds are expected to be used to support the organization’s Access Center, specifically its mental health and SWASHLOCK program where homeless individuals can access restroom and shower facilities and lockers so that they can work to find more suitable housing, said Chris Miller, OPCC associate director.
“There isn’t anything like it in Santa Monica,” Miller said. “The vast majority of our clients are on the streets. They’re in the parks. What we are trying to do is engage them, bring them inside, we start to do case management … . We want to bring people off the streets and get them into permanent housing as quickly as possible.”
The funds were distributed as part of a class — Philanthropy as Civic Engagement — that teaches students about the role of philanthropy, particularly the nonprofit sector of Los Angeles.
Miller said OPCC has been able to double the UCLA grant by leveraging it into a matching gift from another donor.
Funding for the UCLA class was provided by the Texas-based Once Upon a Time Foundation. The organization has committed funds that will help UCLA run the class at least once more.