Eight Santa Monica residents were awarded Wellbeing Microgrants aimed at positively impacting community wellbeing. This is the third round of $500 grants bringing the total number of recipients to 24. Sixteen applications were submitted and on February 24th, the community was invited to join Mayor Kevin McKeown in celebrating the eight recipients at Virginia Avenue Park. The reception opened with a welcome from Barbi Appelquist with the Virginia Avenue Park Advisory Board, and attendees had the chance to meet the Microgrant leaders and learn more about their efforts and how to get involved.

“Data-driven wellbeing analysis is letting us effectively seed new efforts to make Santa Monica a better place to live,” said Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown. “These microgrants identify community-generated ideas for bringing together our diverse residents into an intertwined community, involving each of us and all of us in creating greater shared wellbeing.”

The Microgrant projects will take place through May 2020, and include the following:

Axis Awareness Classes – Amy Butte

Picture of a Park – Amy Bishop Dunbar

First Generation College Application Workshops – Rosanna Llorens

From Home to Homestead Series – Allison Starcher

Dog Walking Meetups – Monika Armendariz

Getmotivatedbuddies Meetup Series – Michael Goldstrom

Self-Care Workshops: The Art of Inquiry and Balance – Naomi Newlan

Wahine Wellbeing Study – Renee Delos Santos

“Receiving the microgrant has been deeply meaningful, because I get the support and validation for what I’m working towards: helping people work together towards shared goals,” said microgrant leader Michael Goldstrom. “I feel a new degree of responsibility knowing that my initiative will affect real people with real issues as we work to make real improvements in their lives.”

The leaders of the selected projects will measure how well they are meeting their goals by surveying participants and tracking progress.

“For the past six years, I’ve watched the City of Santa Monica put that lightning in a bottle in the form of the Wellbeing Index and Microgrants program,” said Microgrant leader Renee Delos Santos. “As a proud grantee and with findings from the Index, I get to connect the dots of a lifelong dream of quantifying how much AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] women and our allies come through as leaders in expressing gender equity, from our deep work ethic and cultural constant that beats inside us.”

The City’s Wellbeing Index revealed that many residents face challenges across the dimensions of wellbeing. Only 1 in 5 Santa Monica residents feel they can influence city decisions, a number that is down 9% over two years. 35% say they or someone close to them have often considered moving from their neighborhood due to rising costs, and 2 in 3 don’t think there is enough opportunity in Santa Monica for their children to afford to live here when they are adults. While many of these issues require big solutions, Wellbeing Microgrants can help in small ways that have a big impact.

“It makes it all the more exciting when an idea can not only take off and achieve what it is you want to achieve, but also spark ideas in other people, be used to advance a policy initiative, and help us all understand what makes a community stronger,” said Julie Rusk, Chief of Civic Wellbeing. “That’s what this is all about: smart ideas that are small, scalable, action-oriented, and come from the community.”

The Wellbeing Microgrants are made possible through funding from Cedars-Sinai, and from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize, which Santa Monica won in 2016.

For more information about current Wellbeing Microgrant projects and to find out about future opportunities, please visit https://wellbeing.smgov.net/microgrants or contact WB.Microgrants@SMGOV.NET.

Submitted by Constance Farrell

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