Earlier this year, the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Civic Wellbeing put out an open call to
residents in the Pico Neighborhood to submit projects for a pilot Wellbeing Microgrants
Program. From a pool of 21 applications, eight community-building projects were selected. On
Monday, August 27, members of the community and media are invited to join Mayor Ted
Winterer in celebrating the recipients of the pilot round of Wellbeing Microgrants at Virginia
Avenue Park. Attendees will have the chance to meet the Microgrant recipients, and find out
more about their projects and how to get involved!
Each project offers a unique approach to community building, though common themes
surfaced, including: amplifying intercultural dialogue, using food as a way to bring people
together, turning underutilized spaces into community resources, and using skills training as a
way to combat loneliness. The leaders of each project will also measure how well they are
meeting their goals by surveying participants and tracking progress.
“The applications that came in conveyed great passion and commitment to enhancing
community connection,” said Julie Rusk, Chief of Civic Wellbeing. “We look forward to honoring
applicants Monday and to watching these impressive projects come to life through the $500
microgrants, which were made possible by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Culture of Health Prize. Santa Monica decided to use funding from the prize to support
resident-led action.”
Through the application process, Microgrant applicants were encouraged to develop project
ideas that would cross generations, build a sense of neighborhood belonging, and create
opportunities for friends and neighbors to get together. The applicants were asked to address
known community issues of trust, loneliness, inclusivity, and social interactions. Findings from
the Wellbeing Index informed the decision to focus the pilot program specifically on the Pico
neighborhood. The Microgrants pilot is one of the activities of the Pico Wellbeing Project to
engage residents in new ways.

The Wellbeing Microgrants pilot program is a new effort from the City’s Office of Civic
Wellbeing to engage and support Santa Monica residents. It provides $500 microgrants to
implement ideas that are focused on small scale, resident-driven action to help people feel
more connected to their neighborhood.
The program is made possible with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture
of Health Prize, of which Santa Monica was a 2016 winner. The City of Santa Monica also
received strategic support for the Wellbeing Microgrants from Cities of Service, an organization
that seeks to increase impact volunteerism and service opportunities. The City signed on to
become a Cities of Service coalition member in 2018.
The Wellbeing Microgrants application process was supported through the online platform City
Grows. The partnership leveraged the City of Santa Monica and City Grows’ shared values of
transparency, collaboration, and equity to provide a streamlined, accessible microgrant
application process to residents.
Given excitement expressed in this pilot round, the Office of Civic Wellbeing is optimistic about
the success of future resident-led projects and the opportunity to expand Microgrants citywide.
While the first group of Microgrants seeks to improve the Community dimension of the
Wellbeing Index, future Microgrants may focus on different dimensions (Health, Place and
Planet, Learning, and Economic Opportunity).
For more information about current Wellbeing Microgrant projects and to find out about future
opportunities, please visit https://wellbeing.smgov.net/microgrants or contact
The Community reception on August 27 kicks off pilot and recognizes recipients. It will be held
Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Ave., Santa Monica, Thelma Terry Room, from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Submitted by
Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer

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