Launch of United for San Benito

A New Name For A Familiar Cause

Hollister, CA (June 23, 2023) – After spending almost 15 years as a regional office of the United Way based in Santa Cruz County, United Way volunteers in San Benito County are starting a new organization under the Community Foundation for San Benito County umbrella.

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.

“We see this shift as a win-win for the residents of San Benito County.  While United for San Benito will continue the model of granting funds to local nonprofits, United Way will continue to support the operation of 211 San Benito County,” states United Way of Santa Cruz County CEO Keisha Browder. “We hope to continue to collaborate and compliment their work in the community”.
United Way Worldwide (UWW) determined, as part of a review process of all United Way’s across the country, that we as United Way of San Benito County (UWSBC), could no longer continue as such unless we changed our name to our fiscal sponsor; United Way of Santa Cruz County (UWSCC).  We were also told that our model of raising funds and granting them out to our local nonprofits did not fit the current United Way Impact model, and that we would have to change that as well.  The UWSBC Board of Directors determined after lengthy discussions, that we needed to break from United Way to be able to continue our work in our community.  “We are so excited for the opportunity to develop a locally-run and focused organization to serve the residents of San Benito County.”  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.” Stated Danielle Burke; Board Chair of United for San Benito.  Vicki stated “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 has changed, but our commitment to our community remains the same!  We will continue to grant funds to our local nonprofits that are serving the most vulnerable in our community, focusing on youth, families and health”

Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, San Benito County community volunteers formed United Way of San Benito County to allocate funds raised by employee giving and fundraisers. After an alignment with Silicon Valley United Way for several years, the group formed a new partnership with United Way of Santa Cruz County in 2010 that provided direct staff support in San Benito County to effectively manage the grantmaking process and implement programs such as the 211 Helpline. Vicki Fortino has served as the Regional Director in San Benito County since 2013 and has been instrumental in raising awareness about emerging needs which has led substantial revenue growth over the years.

United Way volunteers doubled their Annual Giving revenue to over $200,000 and have increased their school supply collection drive with Stuff the Bus to support 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 should contact Vicki Fortino at 831.901.7107.