Strong communities are built on a foundation that creates a true sense of belonging for everyone. That’s why the City of San Luis Obispo is supporting local projects and initiatives that promote a welcoming, inclusive, equitable and safe environment in the pursuit of systemic change.

At last night’s City Council meeting, the Council approved $109,800 of grant funding allocations to be awarded to non-profit organizations recommended by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DE&I). The Task Force supports programming that advances diversity, equity and inclusion in the community.

The funding is focused on narrowing equity gaps that have disproportionately impacted marginalized communities, such as: education, housing, physical and mental health services, criminalization, community representation and food security.

The City received grant funding requests from 20 agencies totaling $640,719. Up to $120,000 of grant funding was available. The City’s recently appointed DE&I Task Force voted to forward funding recommendations for eight application requests to City Council for a total amount of $109,800. Council approved grant funding for these programs: Literacy for Life, Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success, R.A.C.E. Matters, SLO International Film Festival, Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County, One Cool Earth, SLO Noor Foundation and SLO Repertory Theater.

“The City of San Luis Obispo is committed to fostering an environment that prioritizes equity, promotes diversity and inclusion and creates a welcoming atmosphere for all,” said City Manager Derek Johnson. “The grant funding City Council has approved will support programming that is rooted in this important work.”

In July, Council approved the creation of the DE&I Task Force as part of a wider effort to help make the City a welcoming community for everyone. The Task Force is comprised of 11 San Luis Obispo County residents and Council member Erica A. Stewart with support from City Manager Derek Johnson. The Task Force’s efforts are embedded in cultivating a community rooted in social justice, freedom and equity.

DE&I Task Force Chair, Amman Asfaw, said “This is a commendable milestone for the City of San Luis Obispo because it sets a precedent for how our communities can and should begin to approach system change. Thus, I implore SLO County to seriously consider creating its own DE&I Task Force equipped with sufficient funding. In doing so, SLO County will discover equity gaps alongside great pain within our communities that our local governments must address and redress.”

Chair Asfaw added, “The good work is not done, however. Remember: one cannot change the fruits without working on the roots. So, let us all continue to plant the positive seeds SLO so desperately needs. In the coming months, the DE&I Task Force will strive to craft necessary recommendations for SLO City Council which will help burgeon said seeds into the fruits they are capable of becoming.”

View the full Council Agenda Report here