Business / Economy

San Benito County received $3.4 million out of $76.9 million in federal grants for Central Coast in 2017

Congressman Jimmy Panetta announced over $76.9 million in federal grants for Central Coast counties, out of which San Benito County received just $3.4 million.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta. File Photo.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta. File Photo.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta's (D-Carmel) office announced over $76.96 million in federal grants dispersed around the Central Coast in 2017. Of that, the lion’s share, more than $54.09 million, went to Monterey County. Santa Cruz County collected some $16.85 million, San Benito County received less than $3.47 million, and Santa Clara County $2.56 million.

According to press releases throughout the year from Panetta’s Washington, D.C. congressional office, the bulk of the funds were announced June 27, amounting to over $28 million in Title I monies for 30 school districts along the Central Coast.

As has proven to be the trend, most funding went to 20 schools in Monterey County, totaling $22.2 million, with the Salinas Unified School District receiving $4.6 million. Five Santa Cruz County schools were awarded $7.6 million, with the Pajaro raking in the bulk of that money at $5.6 million. Five San Benito County schools received $2.3 million, with Hollister Elementary School District receiving $928,521.

The largest federal grant awarded to San Benito County was $1.806 million that went to the San Benito County Health Foundation.

Panetta announced in June that $712,387 in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration funds went to three airports in Monterey County.

If not for Mike Chambless, Hollister Airport Manager, San Benito County would not have received any federal funding, but he has managed to bring more than $12 million in FAA grants to the county in the last five years. Jim Rydingsword, director of the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency, and his staff have secured $5.683 million in 2017, mostly to pay for homeless services.

So, why did Monterey County receive nine times more in grant monies than San Benito County did? It’s part geography, part population, and likely more local effort.

According to Panetta’s congressional office, organizations working on the ground in their communities are the best advocates for local needs, and Panetta encourages them to apply for grants that they identify, and to keep him informed if he can help them navigate through the various processes of federal agencies.

A couple of reasons for differences between grant amounts between San Benito County and Monterey County may include:

  • San Benito County does not have as many federal agencies or federally-owned land or property, such as military institutions, environmental agencies like NOAA, etc.
  • Some grants, such as some infrastructure projects, require matching funds from localities, which can be a hurdle for some communities.

Monterey County received a single grant of $13.1 million last July, more than the other three counties combined. Why?

According to his congressional office, that number is Monterey County’s funding through June 30, 2018 for Head Start and Early Head Start, early education programs. The annual amount is calculated by population and need, and this large number, Panetta feels, demonstrates the immense need identified by the county. Panetta supports these national programs, and advocated for strong funding during the congressional appropriations process. 

Most federal grants are announced in June and October because some agencies have programs that last one calendar year, beginning June 30, and tend to come out as their program year ends. And because the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, many grants are announced around that time.

Panetta’s congressional office said if San Benito County wants to qualify for more federal grants, applicants need to keep in mind that grant applications are considered through objective evaluations of how well they meet the criteria. Simply put, counties need to put forward applications that best meet the grant requirements.

Congressman Panetta is available to help connect constituents with the agencies from which they are looking to receive funding. He indicated that local organizations and agencies should not hesitate to ask for advice and guidance as they go through the grant process.

Any organization or group that may need help applying for a federal grant should visit for resources. They can also contact Congressman Panetta’s Salinas office to talk about the grant process, funding opportunities, and tips for successful grant writing at 831-424-2229.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]