Spring Gala to Support SBCC
You know, when I spend time with our students, I never give it a second thought that the world’s going to be a better place,” says Kindred Murillo, the interim President and Superintendent of Santa Barbara City College, in an inspired tone during our conversation. “When you talk with our students, they’re concerned about sustainability; they’re concerned about the climate; they’re concerned about making sure everybody gets equitable access. They are inclusive. They thrive in diverse environments. Those are all the things I truly believe will make us stronger and better, and so it’s very, very exciting to see that.”
During my discussion with both Murillo and Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation, a phrase kept coming up from both of them: “We meet students where they’re at.” From graduating high school students (or even those seniors still there), to someone seeking a career change, and even just elders looking to keep active and learn something new, community colleges offer accessible education to the range of members that comprise our society. Technical and nursing programs help train the upcoming work forces and first responders. As Green states: “Community colleges are likely the single best tool we have for advancing socio-economics, mobility for creating equity and opportunity, and communities for all, all the things we know we need, and SBCC happens to be one of the best.”
And philanthropists and private donors have started to see it that way too, such as the $100 million that the Pritzker Family Foundation donated to California community colleges, or the $20 million that was donated by MacKenzie Scott to the SBCC Foundation in July of last year. The SBCC Foundation is a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit that is the philanthropic support for SBCC, working directly with the college to help support both them and students fulfill their plans, programs, and dreams.
The Spring Forward! Gala will be held this Sunday, May 22, from 4 to 7 pm in the Great Meadow on SBCC’s West Campus. This is the third time they will be having the gala and it is the single biggest fundraiser the SBCC Foundation hosts each year. In 2019, they had more than 300 guests in attendance with the event raising over $400,000. The 2020 gala was, as to be expected, held virtually, however the event still raised more than $300,000 and had 250 people joining the digital festivities.
Of course, this year everyone is excited to be back in-person and the SBCC Foundation has a full night planned for the event. Although, Green acknowledges that sometimes “less is more” and the program will have some meaningful moments, but will make sure to give everyone enough time to just enjoy each other’s company. The speeches they do have planned will give the audience a good idea of what SBCC and the Foundation bring to the students and community. “We’ll have three different perspectives: a student-turns-staff member perspective, a faculty member, and then a community supporter donor, all just sharing about why we all do this,” says Green.
Alisha Sanchez is a former Running Start student that now runs the program, and she will be speaking about the six-week summer bridge program for graduating high school students entering college. Rosette Strandberg, director of their vocational nursing department, will be speaking about her experience as a faculty member and the impact of their program. “Nursing and First Responders have been such a focus these last few years, and more and more people now understand that community college has trained and licensed the vast majority of our First Responders in the state of California,” says Green. The final speech will be from Kandy Luria-Budgor, a SBCC Foundation board member who just left the board, and daughter of Lee and Eli Luria, one of the co-founders of the SBCC Foundation.
“There are two departments that are very much a part of the event,” adds Green. Both the SBCC Art and Music departments will be helping fill the evening with some melodies and pleasing aesthetics. “A lot of the [art] students’ sculptures and art will be out on the lawn, the meadow, and around the event area. They’ve been doing some really fascinating things over the course of the pandemic, so they really help with the feel of the space.”
For some aural ambiance, different performers from their music department will be playing throughout the evening – starting off near the iconic campus fountain where the cocktail hour will kick-off the event, before the larger band enters the main stage during the more formal part of the evening. “SBCC Music, as you may know, has world-class musicians that are constantly recognized as such. So we get a couple of our different bands and musicians to play,” Green adds, “and we might even have a special guest.” As he mentions, there are many famous musicians that call Santa Barbara home that also lecture in the music department, John Clark’s song writing class, or elsewhere on campus. In 2019, they hosted Michael McDonald – who’s currently on tour with The Doobie Brothers – and this year the audience will just have to wait for the surprise.
One thing that’s not a surprise is the continuing role that SBCC plays in both supporting students of all ages and the community. As Murillo states, “My goal is to make sure every student succeeds, and they feel like they belong at the college, and that we close all of the equity gaps.”
Visit sbccfoundation.org/spring-forward-gala for more information