2019 STB, Photo courtesy of United Way of San Benito County
2019 STB, Photo courtesy of United Way of San Benito County

San Benito’s hardworking United Way volunteers celebrated the establishment of a new San Benito-focused organization over the last few months and despite the complicated transition, the local group once again managed to give out grants to fourteen local nonprofits on Oct. 5.

The newly structured United for San Benito group stayed with their primary areas of interest: Youth Success, Family Stability and Health.

After spending almost 15 years as a regional office of the United Way based in Santa Cruz County, United Way volunteers based in San Benito County created a new, local nonprofit called “United for San Benito.”

This change, effective July 1, will increase support for the community and its nonprofits. San Benito County community members who led the local United Way grant process will continue raising funds for local nonprofits and support 211 San Benito County as United for San Benito. 

On Oct. 5 United for San Benito distributed grants to local nonprofits.

Youth Success:       BenitoLink

                                    Junior Achievement


                                    YMCA of SBC

                                    San Benito County Arts Council

                                    Girls, Inc.

Family Stability:      Salvation Army

                                    Hope Services

                                    Emmaus House

                                    Catholic Charities

                                    Senior Citizens Legal Services

Health:                      Community Food Bank of SBC

                                    Sun Street Centers

                                    Martha’s Kitchen

United Way Worldwide (UWW) determined, as part of a review process of all United Ways across the country, that United Way of San Benito County (UWSBC) could no longer continue as such unless it changed its name to United Way of Santa Cruz County (UWSCC). 

The local San Benito group was also told that their model of raising funds and granting them out to county nonprofits did not fit the current United Way Impact model, and that they would have to change that as well. The UWSBC Board of Directors determined after lengthy discussions that it needed to break from United Way to be able to continue its work in its own local community.  

“We are so excited for the opportunity to develop a locally run and focused organization to serve the residents of San Benito County,” said Danielle Burke, Board Chair of United for San Benito.  “We are happy to announce that Vicki Fortino will serve as Executive Director for United for San Benito, as we navigate the process of becoming our own nonprofit.”

Vicki Fortino said, “We are grateful to the Community Foundation for San Benito County for helping us through this process and stepping in as our fiscal sponsor while we pursue our 501 (c)3 status. 

“Our name and logo have changed, but our commitment to our community remains the same!  They will continue to grant funds to local nonprofits that are serving the most vulnerable in the community focusing on youth, families and health,” Fortino said.

“It is wonderful to see this amazing group of people continue their support for our community as ‘United for San Benito’. They have the full support and backing of the Community Foundation,” stated Gary Byrne, CEO Community Foundation for San Benito County.
United Way volunteers doubled their Annual Giving revenue to over $200,000 and have increased their school supply collection drive with the very successful “Stuff the Bus” which supports over 2,000 students in need.

“211” San Benito County launched in 2013 and has supported an annual average of 600 residents, connecting them to local services in the areas of housing, mental health, substance use disorder, and food.

For more information about the United for San Benito County, residents can contact Vicki Fortino; at vicki@unitedforsanbenito.org or 831.901.7107.