SBCC Foundation

By Steven Libowitz   |   March 14, 2024

It was Geoff Green, the longtime CEO of SBCC Foundation, who created and spearheaded the organization’s SBCC Promise, the program that provides all recent local high school graduates with the opportunity to attend the community college full-time free of charge for up to two years. The Promise is comprehensive and robust, covering virtually everything a prospective student might otherwise have to handle themselves, including tuition, books, course materials, student health and other fees; and even the bus pass to travel to and from class at the seaside campus. Launched in fall of 2016 – just 18 months after Green started at SBCC – the program has served to remove financial barriers to those students wishing to attend SBCC, and opens inclusive access to campus that is not restricted by means or past academic performance, making our community college fully accessible to all local students who are willing to make the commitment. 

At a cost of about $2 million per year, The Promise initiative is the single biggest thing the Foundation does. 

Green moved on at the end of the year, leaving to assume the top position at the California Association of Nonprofits, although he’s still in town. The new CEO for SBCC Foundation has been selected from among a field of highly qualified candidates and will be announced soon, as the plan is to have the CEO fill the new position on May 1. But the organization hasn’t missed a beat in the meantime with The Promise, and all of its other programs that have been providing Santa Barbara City College with private philanthropic support since 1976. 

“We had a record number of students enrolled in The Promise last fall, and it’s just continuing to grow,” said Jennifer LeMay, SBCC Foundation’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “We’re back up to the way things were before the pandemic, during which enrollment really plummeted. Overall enrollment for the college is a bit lower compared to pre-Covid, but The Promise enrollment is back up where it was, which means it’s really making a difference.” 

Part of that is due to the Foundation’s determination to do what it can to make sure the secondary school environment – students, administration and families – are aware of the opportunity afforded by The Promise. Promise Manager Luis Naranjo attended SBCC before transferring to UCSB, where he later worked as a Financial Aid Assistant Director. He understands the fruits of the program and joins his team as they figuratively pound the pavement, proselytizing The Promise.

“They go out to the high schools, go to events and have special presentations whenever they can come and talk about the program,” LeMay said. “They’re out on the road quite a bit, and it helps more parents and students understand that this is available even before they get to their senior year.”

Launched in 2016, the SBCC Promise helps make access to the college easy and affordable

And now there’s an extra incentive for graduating seniors to enroll in the program: a new event on campus called The Promise Registration Rally. 

SBCC experts will be onsite at the April 19 event to help students – they who have completed the required SBCC Steps to Enrollment – actually enroll in classes during the priority registration period for fall. The students will be bussed from their local high schools to complete all the steps with whatever help they might need. More than 800 students from all the local high schools are expected to attend, LeMay said.

“There will be food and beverages, and tons of academic counselors, teachers, administrators, volunteers – it’s like all hands on deck,” she said. “They’ll be answering all questions and helping students get enrolled in the Promise and helping them sign up for classes. They’ll also be helping the students sign up for academic counseling, which is one of The Promise requirements. The idea is to make the transition really smooth and easy, and fun, too.” 

The Foundation is also proudly presenting testimonials from The Promise program’s inaugural class, including Adrian Flores Mejia – the first of his family to attend college, and a gratified participant in The Promise. One of the program’s first year entrants in 2016, Mejia graduated from SBCC two years later with four AA degrees, earned both a BA and a master’s degree in Chicana/o Studies at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), and now works for Yardi Systems in town.

“I am a proud member of the first SBCC Promise cohort,” Mejia said. “The tech company I now work for donates to the SBCC Promise, and just this spring semester, I have returned to SBCC as an adjunct faculty member teaching Chicana/o Studies courses. I have always been a strong advocate for the SBCC Promise as it provides students, including first-generation college students like me, the opportunity to pursue higher education.”

Skateboard artist Inga Guzyte, Easy Lift Transportation Executive Director Ernesto Paredes, veteran Santa Barbara journalist Joshua Molina, and Los Arroyos founder Tony Arroyo are among other local luminaries who are alumni of SBCC. 

The Foundation is planning on expanding SBCC Alumni Connect, its new effort to reach out to graduates of the program and SBCC in general within and around the community to keep them engaged and pay it forward by inspiring other prospective students to check out the community college and reap the benefits of an education at SBCC. 

“We want to keep them updated, have them sign up for email lists so that we can invite them to events and to take part in mentorship opportunities,” Le May said. “The idea is to create a network that will hopefully grow over time. We’re starting little by little, and this summer we’ll probably have some events here in town for local alumni.” 

Other SBCC Foundation programs include Rising Scholars, which prepares the incarcerated for college re-enrollment on their release; SPARC, supports Single Parents Arriving Ready for College; and Guardian Scholars, which supports foster youth – all of which aim to make access to college easy and affordable. 

SBCC Foundation relies entirely on private donations. There are myriad ways of supporting the organization, including the upcoming 5th annual Spring Forward! gala set for May 4 at the ocean-view meadow of SBCC’s West Campus. More than 300 guests will enjoy a special evening celebrating our community’s college and raising funds for student success, including the SBCC Promise as well as student achievement programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds and more.  

Visit www.sbcc


SBCC Foundation

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(805) 730-4412
Chief Development Officer: Sarah Stretz


The SBCC Foundation has provided Santa Barbara City College with private philanthropic support since 1976, serving as the vehicle through which individuals and organizations may invest in the college and its students. As an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization and partner to SBCC, the SBCC Foundation provides more than $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds, and other critical needs of the college. For more than four decades, the resources raised and managed by the SBCC Foundation have supported SBCC students as they prepare for careers, transfer to four-year universities, and pursue lifelong learning goals.

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I was fortunate to be an SBCC Promise student during my first two years at SBCC. Without it, I would not have gone to college. As a first-generation student, it was hard to navigate college, and the thought of paying thousands of dollars for classes, starting fresh out of high school, did not seem realistic. With the Promise, I was fortunate to not have to work to pay for my classes, which allowed me to focus on school. It was a privilege.
Liz Dorantes, SBCC Promise Alumna

Your Donations Can Put a Student Through Two Years of College

Donations to the Santa Barbara City College Foundation provide much needed support for students as they prepare for careers, transfer to four-year universities, and pursue lifelong learning goals. The Foundation is working to make the SBCC Promise a permanent offering through the support of generous donors, while continuing to improve and expand access to a greater share of the Santa Barbara community. The cost of one student’s participation in the SBCC Promise varies with the student and their course of study, but currently ranges between $2,750 and $5,500.

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