The city of Coronado every year allots just over a $1 million in grants to non-profit organizations all over the Crown City to strengthen the sense of community on the island.
The grant fund is about 1% of the total general fund revenue for any given year, according to city records, and it’s been divided among anywhere from 13 organizations in 2018 to a high of 24 organizations last year. This year, 23 organizations received funding.
A Coronado News examination of grant allocations during the past five years, obtained through public records requests, found that the Coronado Historical Association was the largest recipient at nearly $1 million collectively from 2019-23.
Safe Harbor Coronado, a non-profit organization that helps youths and families with social issues like divorce, drug use and suicide, came in second at $725,479 during that time. And the Coronado Chamber of Commerce came in third at $572,739.
All organizations asked for more money than they received.
At the bottom end, the Coronado Rotaract, a group of young professionals involved in community service, received the least amount of money at $1,328. However, they only asked for $1,328 and they were awarded the full amount requested.
Mayor Richard Bailey said the five-member City Council, which includes his office, distributes the money based on “the value that those services the organizations are providing the community.”
Grant request requirements
Since 2019, there are 42 organizations from the Cancer Cartel to Villa-Lobos International Chamber Music that have requested grant money from the city.
Request amounts went as low as $980 in 2019 from the Friends of Children United Society to the highest of $399,147 in 2020 from the Coronado Historical Association.
All 42 organizations that have asked for financial help are nonprofits, as the guidelines for awarding grant money show that being a tax-exempt/not for profit organization is an eligibility requirement.
And an organization must be involved in Arts and Culture, Community Pride and Sense of Place, Economic Development or Social Services on the island.
Grant readers for the city follow a rubric and figure out whether the organization’s request matches the intent of the four categories, according to Council Member Casey Tanaka.
Historically, Coronado has shown to favor arts and culture organizations, according to Councilwoman Carrie Anne Downey and Councilmember Mike Donovan.
If we’ve decided our goal is for Coronado to be the arts community in all the world, we’re off to a good start.”-Councilwoman Carrie Anne Downey.
“If we’ve decided our goal is for Coronado to be the arts community in all the world, we’re off to a good start. That is where we’re putting the majority of our grant funding,” Downey said.
Coronado Historical Association got $1M
This year more than half of the organizations that received grant money were in the Arts and Culture category, records show.
However, over the last five years, the Coronado Historical Association, a nonprofit from the Community Pride/Sense of Place category, received the most grant money collectively at nearly $1 million, records show.
The organization was founded in 1969 to help people understand and appreciate Coronado’s unique history, art, architecture and historical resources, and it has year-round schedule of public programs and rotating museum exhibits, according to its website.
They also requested the most money at nearly $1.3 million the past five years.
The Coronado Historical Association has accumulated $6 million in net assets or fund balances as of June 30, 2022, according to the organization’s publicly available tax returns. Much of that is from the donation of the building, according to the donor.
“All of the funding allows us to provide this free museum and all of these exhibits…[we] have really, really worked hard to show not only where all the funding is being spent, but to make sure that we are doing the things that our community really wants to see,” said Christine Stokes, executive director of the Coronado Historical Association.
Don Budinger, the Coronado Historical Association’s biggest donor, gifted them the building in a three-part transaction that was completed in October 2021, he said.
He said the building, which is used as their museum, is worth $6 million. He said it’s important for a community to understand and respect its history.
Safe Harbor second biggest recipient
The second most awarded organization over the last five years was for Safe Harbor Coronado, a social services nonprofit, and the third most awarded organization was the Coronado Chamber of Commerce, which helps drive economic development in the city.
From 2019-2023, Safe Harbor Coronado received $725,479, and the organization received around 79% of the total grant money it requested throughout the last five years, asking for $918,389.
“What’s going on nationwide is also happening right here in our small town, and these are real issues. And for our community to have local resources is really important,” said Executive Director of Safe Harbor Coronado Georgia Ferrell.
Ferrell said the organization is grateful for the grant funds to help its role in the community.
We’re able to be so successful at doing what we do because of all of our collaborations and partnerships in the community.”-Georgia Ferrell, executive director of Safe Harbor Coronado.
“There are so many different organizations doing great work that’s asking for money…we’re able to be so successful at doing what we do because of all of our collaborations and partnerships in the community,” Ferrell said. “It’s really important that we are not working by ourselves.”
Meanwhile, the Coronado Chamber of Commerce received $572,739 during the past five years, and the organization had $316,232 in its net assets or fund balances as of June 30,2022.
The Coronado Chamber of Commerce declined to comment.
Lowest grant request recipients
On the other spectrum, the bottom three organizations receiving the least amount of money were the Coronado Rotaract at $1,328, the Memorial Day Celebration at $4,450 and Storytellers of San Diego at $4,958.
However, these organizations also asked for the least amount of money over the last five years, with all of them individually asking for less than $10,000 and only once or twice since 2019.
Storytellers of San Diego is an all-volunteer organization that focuses on storytellers promoting storytelling as an art form.
“We hadn’t applied before because we hadn’t done anything at the Coronado Library before, but we gave it a try,” said Marilyn McPhie, President of Storytellers of San Diego.
They started participating in the community grant fund in 2022.
“Perhaps [council] saw what we had done the previous year and followed through with our plan and turned out to be successful…and [storytelling] is really a fairly inexpensive process, generally speaking,” McPhie said.
If they’re grant score is high enough, then that would presume they would have the best chance to receive this funding.”-Councilman Casey Tanaka.
They asked for $3,649 in 2022 and $3,786 in 2023, receiving about half of what they requested the first year and almost all of what they asked for the second year.
“We set this process up in exactly the way it played out, that any group can apply for money,” said Tanaka, the longtime councilman. “If they’re grant score is high enough, then that would presume they would have the best chance to receive this funding.”