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When most of us hear Isla Vista, we think about UCSB students, their academic achievements, and their parties.  There is another less well-known population in Isla Vista, residents who are poor and underserved. Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP) was started to support those less visible families in Isla Vista who did not have access to social supports.

Over the years, IVYP has expanded to serve children and families across the Goleta Valley and beyond with high-quality childcare and comprehensive family support. They have been able to expand their work because of program support from the Woman’s Fund including a 2019 grant of $55,000 for a full-time family advocate. (IVYP is one of only two local agencies which have been four-time Women’s Fund grant recipients since 2004.)

IVYP assistance has expanded beyond Isla Vista elementary school families to all the Title 1 (low income) schools in the Goleta Elementary School District. This translated into 101 families to whom they provided both case management as well as referrals for housing, medical, employment and educational needs. The COVID-19 crisis has put increased stress on the organization and the clients they serve so they are especially grateful for the support of the Woman’s Fund.

Among the hundreds of families served, “Maria” is a great example. Maria is a single mom of three school-age children who also has custody of three young nieces and nephews. She came to IVYP to get help applying for low-income housing. During the process, Maria’s counselor learned more about her family situation – that Maria and her husband were going through a very difficult divorce and that her daughters were struggling emotionally because of their parents’ separation. In addition, her nieces and nephews were lacking adequate clothing and essentials. The family was referred for counseling services at CALM and for clothing at Unity Shoppe. Maria was surprised and grateful that IVYP had connections to so many resources to help her family. With help from IVYP and new housing, they are getting back on their feet. (Maria is not her real name; photo is a representation of the family.)

“Thanks to the most recent grant from the Women’s Fund, IVYP has built relationships and supported families across the Goleta Union School District (GUSD). Those relationships create a resilient and connected community. Thanks to those connections, IVYP has been able to work in partnership with GUSD to meet the needs of families who are in crisis due to the COVID pandemic. We would not be so well positioned to help without the Women’s Fund investment in our organization,” said Lori Goodman, IVYP Executive Director.

  • Contributed by Joanne Schoenfeld