YWCA to establish new grant system

To the Santa Monica / Westside Community

For more than 90 years, thanks to generous support from our community, we have had the privilege of providing dozens of programs that empowered thousands of women and girls of all ages in Santa Monica and the Westside.

But donations significantly declined in recent years. It was with a sense of great sadness and loss, and after a thorough review of the alternatives, that the Board recognized that the operations of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside were no longer financially sustainable. We first publicly announced this in February 2016 through an open letter to the community. We then followed that announcement with letters to the community in May, June, and December 2016 to keep stakeholders abreast of our process and steps toward closing.

When we closed our doors in June, we began the difficult process of winding down our many programs and transferring some to other nonprofits to continue. At the same time, we began to consider what to do with our assets, particularly our property on Pico Blvd.

The decision of the Board was to use our assets “to continue to promote the mission and purpose of the YWCA…” We have explored a variety of alternative ways to accomplish this, taking into account all applicable legal considerations and the YWCA’s mission. We determined that the fairest, and most effective way to distribute the value of the assets would be, first, to sell the property and, then, to distribute the proceeds of the sale to make charitable grants to other nonprofit organizations whose programs align with the YWCA mission.

We now are nearing the conclusion of that sale process. It’s been a disciplined process of receiving, reviewing and vetting a number of bids to buy the property. We engaged in a sales strategy that will allow us to obtain a fair value for our property and optimize our ability to make charitable gifts for the benefit of the community.

The board of YWCA Santa Monica / Westside has decided to establish a donor-advised fund at the California Community Foundation, to which the net proceeds from the property sale will be donated. Through this fund the YWCA will, in turn, award grants to nonprofit organizations in the Santa Monica and Westside that are aligned with the mission and interests of the YWCA.

We believe this is the best way to honor our mission and the individuals, foundations, and corporations that contributed to the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside.

Although we must make difficult choices about how to allocate those funds, we believe our grants will help sustain a wide range of deeply needed services in the areas of empowerment and leadership for women and girls that have been our focus for the past nine decades.

In the meantime, a number of nonprofit organizations have been the beneficiary of YWCA furniture and supplies since the programs closed. To name a few, these include Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, Boys and Girls Club of Venice, Church in Ocean Park (Girl Central), Coalition for Engaged Education (working with former YWCA housing residents), OPCC/The People Concern, PS Arts, and VPDP/Dig Childhood Center.

 

Through this process, our legacy of empowerment, friendship, and community service can continue long after our closing.

 

From the Board of Directors of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside

Anne-Marie Spataru, Board President

Carol Bennett

Posie Carpenter

Helene DesRuisseaux

Sheri Linzell

Jody Priselac

Lois Slavkin

Mary Tower

Marlene Wagener

Monika White