Helping Communities Rise from the Ashes
Other Philanthropy | March 14, 2019

Helping California Communities Rise From Ashes

by Antonia Hernández

Three months ago, a trio of devastating California fires were finally extinguished. Butte County faced the nation’s deadliest wildfire in more than a century, the Camp Fire, which took 86 lives and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures. In Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, the Hill and Woolsey fires killed three and forced hundreds of thousands of residents from their homes.

While the damage from the fires was unprecedented, so was the generosity they engendered. More than 21,000 donors opened their hearts to those who had lost so much in the fires through the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. They are individuals and families, huge corporations and small local businesses. They passed the hat at their workplaces. They held bake sales and car washes and talent shows to benefit the victims. We even saw two young children donate the funds raised from their lemonade stand, all to help people they’ve never even met.

I’m proud to announce that the Wildfire Relief Fund has made its second round of grants to organizations working on the ground in wildfire-affected communities, bringing the total granted to $6.2 million. Those dollars have helped provide food, shelter, health care and other support for families who lost their homes. Additionally, Wildfire Relief Fund grants have provided financial assistance to those whose jobs or businesses were destroyed or disrupted, purchased vital equipment for first responders and enabled rescue services and veterinary care for pets, livestock and other animals displaced by the fires.

We take our job as the steward of donor gifts seriously. The California Community Foundation has waived all fees on gifts to the Wildfire Relief Fund, ensuring that 100% of donations go to organizations making a difference to those affected by wildfires.

In addition, our team of grantmaking experts is partnering with local communities to identify and support the most efficient and effective organizations and programs. While great progress is being made, the toll on these communities, and especially on the most poor and vulnerable residents, is not fully known.

To learn more about the impact the Wildfire Relief Fund has helped create and find a complete list of Camp, Woolsey and Hill Fire recovery grants, visit our Community Impact Page. To stay informed on the impact of these and future grants, please subscribe to our Impact Updates.

It is an honor to be entrusted with the stewardship of such incredible generosity and to join donors in uplifting wildfire-affected communities. Their kindness is helping new futures to take root, rise above the ashes and burst into bloom.

Antonia Hernández is the President & CEO of the California Community Foundation.

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