City Council voted to approve a total of 18 recipients and approximately $10 million as part of the 2023-27 HSGP funding cycle

During the May 9 meeting, Council approved a total of 18 recipients and approximately $10 million as part of the four-year fiscal year 2023-27 Human Services Grants Program (HSGP) funding cycle.

The HSGP is designed to address critical community needs and gaps in existing service systems, while also offering funding stability to local social service agencies. With a total operating budget of $10,145,594, the HSGP will fund 21 distinct programs run by 18 agencies, serving approximately 27,000 residents annually.

“The Council is proud to continue supporting funding for organizations that offer vital services that address the most critical needs of our community members, especially those who are the most marginalized and underserved,” Mayor Gleam Davis said.

The City released a Request for Proposals for the 2023-27 HSGP funding cycle in September of last year through a robust outreach campaign to engage the community and receive input and feedback. By the January 2023 deadline, staff had received 31 program proposals from 24 agencies with grant requests totaling $11.6 million, far exceeding the previous $7.9 million in general funds budgeted for the program. Staff have identified alternate funding sources to increase the total available to $10.1M this year.

HSGP funding levels are approved by Council annually as part of the adoption of the City’s budget. Highlights of the RFP include:

• A framework centered around impact areas of lifelong learning, stability and health and wellness, providing uniformity across agencies and programs to clearly measure and report performance.

• The establishment of a review panel in partnership with the We Are Santa Monica Fund Advisory Board to recruit subject matter experts and those with lived experience to review proposals.

• Funding allocations that are considered holistically across applications to ensure the HSGP maintains a balanced portfolio that serves a range of vulnerable and underserved populations with services that include both prevention and direct client aid.

• Revised agency eligibility to allow for a broader pool of applicants while maintaining quality programs and fiscal best practices.

Councilmember Jesse Zwick felt compelled to recuse himself since his son attends the Growing Place preschool at Marine Park, and that was one of the allocations. “As much as I believe I could be impartial in this decision, based on the appearance of bias, I will be recusing myself,” he said.

Consequently, to allow Zwick to return to the council chamber, a vote was taken purely for the allocation for the $212,500 to Growing Place. A motion was made by Councilmember Phil Brock, seconded by Davis and passed unanimously five to zero, with Councilmember Caroline Torosis being absent.

“We’ve got to be careful here because if we don’t honor the recusal, nothing we do here tonight will have meaning, because it will be invalid,” Davis said.

Proposals also included a commitment to provide $19.9 million in matching funds, totaling to $31.5 million in proposed funding to serve Santa Monica program participants. Of the 24 applying agencies, seven are new applicants to the City’s HSGP funding process. The combination of proposals for new and existing programs serves the full range of Santa Monica’s HSGP priority populations, including people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, seniors, youth and families and other underserved populations.

Councilmember Oscar de la Torre forwarded the motion that all proposals be agreed to and was seconded by Brock. The motion passed six to zero as Councilmember Caroline Torosis was absent.

“I just want to make one comment, as someone who routinely reads the agendas from other cities, and actually attends other city council meetings … I dare you to go to another city and see this kind of discussion and see this kind of grant allocation to social service agencies within the community, it doesn’t exist,” said Davis.


Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.