Funding Opportunities

It is imperative that the Grant Cycles, Eligibility, General Guidelines, Areas of Interest, be read prior to applying for a grant.

Please take note:

It is imperative that the Grant Cycles, Eligibility, General Guidelines, Areas of Interest, be read prior to applying for a grant.

Grant Cycle

The Towbes Foundation Board meets three times a year to review grant applications and to make grant determinations.

Grant Application & Notification Schedule July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024

Application Opens Application Deadline Board Meeting Notification
August 1 August 31 October November
December 1 December 31 February March
April 1 April 30 May June

All three grant cycles are open to educational and/or mental health-missioned nonprofit organizations as described within the Foundation’s interest areas.


To be eligible to apply for funding your organization must meet the following requirements. Your organization should be:

  • Primarily located in Santa Barbara County.
  • A tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Focused on either education and/or mental health. Only organizations that are wholly mission-aligned are eligible to apply. See our Areas of Interest for more information.
  • Only one grant will be awarded per organization per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Umbrella organizations or fiscal sponsors may receive multiple grants per fiscal year, provided they are not duplicative.

The following entities are NOT eligible to apply:

  • Newly formed organizations and/or newly starting programs should not apply unless by invitation.
  • Organizations whose mission and/or programs fall outside our targeted funding domains of education and direct mental health services/programs.
  • Organizations that receive funding within the same year from other Towbes-family funding sources (i.e., Michael Towbes Donor Advised Fund, the Lewis – Towbes Family Donor Advised Fund, or the Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts) except by invitation.
  • Grants to public school programs are on a case-by-case basis and are limited to one per school, per fiscal year. Grants are no longer made to the High School Academies in Santa Barbara Unified School District.
  • Sponsorships for individual organizations
  • Private/Religious/Independent schools
  • Individuals

General Guidelines

Getting Started

  • Organizations that are new to the Foundation should contact us prior to applying to determine fit within our refined priority areas.
  • Organizations with established relationships with the Foundation, that know they are eligible to apply, should apply to during their typical application cycle or contact us to discuss changing cycles.
  • Organizations with established relationships that are unsure whether they fit within our mental health and educational priority areas, should contact us prior to applying.

Application Process

  • Organizations need to submit a completed online grant application using the grant application link once the cycle opens; unless otherwise communicated or requested.
  • Applications must be completed and submitted by the application deadline.
  • Interviews, site visits, and/or additional data may be requested to further guide decision-making prior to funding decisions. This may, at times, delay funding decisions.

Grant Awards

  • Grant applicants will be notified of the award decision during the notification window.
  • Educational/Mental Health grant cycle awards will range from $1,000-$20,000 with the majority of awards within the $5,000-$7,500 range.
  • Due to the available funds and the increasing number of qualified applicants, the grant selection process is more selective than in previous years.
  • Previous funding does not guarantee future funding.
  • If funded, the amount may change from year to year.

Grantee Expectations

  • We are big on communication. Our goal is to provide a supportive funder-grantee relationship through communication, openness, and transparency. In turn, we expect that you will communicate any changes or challenges with us throughout the life of a grant.
  • We are grateful to our board members, and the guidance they provide us. Please do not contact our board members directly about your grant applications.
  • We appreciate flexibility. We hope that you will remain understanding of our changing dynamics as we navigate the various financial factors that continue to impact the Foundation.

Areas of Interest

The Towbes Foundation seeks to strengthen the communities of Santa Barbara County by focusing on locally-based, 501(c)(3) organizations whose objectives are in alignment with our primary interests in education and mental health. We are excited about collaborative partnerships, organizations that utilize systematic evaluation processes to understand and inform their programs/services, as well as organizations that support traditionally underserved or marginalized communities in the following areas.


We are seeking nonprofit partners that provide basic education and educational equity programs including preschool, childcare, summer, and after-school enrichment services. While our primary focus is basic education, we will consider programs that target educational opportunities in the arts, science/environment, and diversity/inclusion/access. See the eligibility requirements for more information.

Mental Health

We are seeking nonprofit partners whose mission is to provide direct mental health services or programming specifically to children, youth, families, and adults. We are interested in programs that are targeting specific behavioral  health outcomes as opposed to programs where mental wellness is a secondary benefit. See the eligibility requirements for more information.

Michael Towbes Legacy

These awards are limited and by invitation only. Organizations that are eligible for these limited awards are broadly defined to organizations that improve the lives of those living in Santa Barbara County and that also hold a place that is near and dear to the heart of Michael Towbes and the Towbes Family.

Do not contact us regarding eligibility for these grants. These organizations will be contacted directly to apply during our April grant cycle each year, if funds are available.

Community Priorities

These awards are limited and by invitation only. We are open to investing in emergent/critical needs for the long-term benefit of Santa Barbara County including collaborations, multi-funder partnerships, and public/private ventures.

Do not contact us regarding eligibility for these grants. Organizations will be identified and contacted directly to apply.

Additional Community Investments

These awards are limited and by invitation only. We are open to alternative types of charitable investments or larger grant opportunities that are identified by the Foundation.

Do not contact us regarding eligibility for these grants. Organizations will be identified and contacted directly to apply.