2017 Press

West Side today, June 2017

The SAM Initiative’s Annual Grant Recipients

The SAM Initiative, which represents a group of Westside individuals who pool their financial resources and experiences to fund and support programs that promote social change, announced at its annual awards dinner that Students for Students, Kids In The Spotlight, Safe Place for Youth, Grameen America and Homeboy Recycling will be the recipients of this year’s grants totaling $225,000.

These organizations address many of the critical issues facing the greater Los Angeles community: homelessness, the everyday struggles of foster youth, environmental sustainability and creating economic opportunities for underserved populations.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Homelessness Policy Director, Alisa Orduna, said, “Hearing the inspiring stories of hope and seeing everyday Angelenos give up their time and donations to helping our nonprofit organizations on the frontline was very uplifting and a real boost to the spirit of what we do.”

SAM Initiative Founder Mindy Freedman said, “The awards dinner is an inspiring celebration that acknowledges the extraordinary endeavors of each organization and the efforts of our members to identify and respond to the needs in our community.”

Louis Tse, Students for Students co-founder and executive director, said, “Because of The SAM Initiative, we will be able to house students experiencing homelessness and renovate our space to create the atmosphere of a home.”

Tige Charity, the founder and executive director of Kids in the Spotlight said, “It’s so easy to run from the enormous issues surrounding foster care, but The SAM Initiative got in the ring with us and together, we are impacting the lives of foster youth through the art of filmmaking.”

Santa Monica Daily Press, May 2017

Local money for local causes

The SAM Initiative has announced five grant recipients totally $225,000 in donations to Students for Students, Kids in the Spotlight, Safe Place for Youth, Grameen American and Homeboy Recycling.

The organization represents a group of Westside individuals who pool their financial resources and experiences to help fund and support the organization as they continue to promote social change.

Santa Monica resident Marcie Goldstein is a proud mother of two, and dedicates much of her time to various communities from Inglewood to the Westside as a member.

The non-profit organization was founded by Mindy Freedman in 2013. The organization stands for supporting sustainability, accountability and movement within the greater Los Angeles area.

Goldstein has been an active member for the past two years.

She said, “I had met Mindy (Founder of SAM) and I was just impressed with the kind of person she is and everything about her. Instantly I was blown away by the mission and the work she was doing.”

The organization seeks to select causes and organizations that help to address many of the critical issues facing the greater Los Angeles area.

They continue to focus on the main issues like homelessness, the foster youth community, environmentally and sustainability issues and creating an equal economic opportunity for the underserved population.

Freedman recently stated, “Our collaborative process of engaged philanthropy provides our members a tremendous sense of pride in their giving.”

In a recent press release from the SAM Initiative, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Homelessness Policy Directory, Alisa Orduna said, “Hearing the inspiring stories of hope and seeing everyday Angelenos give up their time and donations to helping our nonprofit organization on the frontline was very uplifting and a real boost of the spirit of what we do.”

The issue of homelessness hits home for Goldstein and because of her passion she served on the due diligence committee for Students for Students, formerly known as Bruin Shelter.

Students for Students is a homeless shelter organized and run by UCLA students for UCLA students.

“I have seen over the years how homelessness has increased. You know there are 58,000 homeless college students,” said Goldstein. “These kids overcome great odds and they manage to get into a University in this country. Yet they are sleeping in their cars and dragging their belongings.”

Goldstein visited the shelter and was blown away with how much students did for their peers, and with so few resources.

“These kids here have so much potential. It’s a no brainer these kids could use a little assistance,” said Goldstein.

Students for Students will receive a grant of $32,000 to help further their mission as the first homeless shelter created for college students created by students.

Kids in the Spotlight will receive a grant of $30,000 to purchase new computers and fund an administrative position to grow their foster youth program. This would allow kids professional training to write, produce, stare in and edit their own short films.

Safe Place for Youth will receive a grant of $50,000 to fund their Outreach & Engagement Program that will continue to care for youth experiencing homelessness.

Grameen America will receive a grant of $100,000 to provide microloans, financial training and support to low income women in Los Angeles Pico Union and Boyle Heights communities.

Homeboy Recycling will receive a grant of $13,000 to support their electronics-recycling program as it continues to offer a unique pathway to fundraising while yielding environmentally sustainable job opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

The SAM Initiative is coming up on their fifth funding cycle and they plan to continue building relationships within the community.

“As parent you teach your children that anyone can make a difference,” said Goldstein. “And with a will there is a way and the SAM Initiative is making it possible.”

2016 Press

Palisadian-Post, May 2016

SAM Initiative Announces Recipients of Annual Grants Totaling $170,000

The SAM Initiative, which represents a group of individuals including several Palisadians who have pooled their financial resources and experience to fund and support programs that promote social change, announced last week that L.A. Kitchen, Food Forward and The Downtown Women’s Center of Los Angeles will be the recipients of this year’s grants totaling $170,000.

All three recipients are addressing the community’s most pressing issues of food insecurity and homelessness.

The mission of The SAM Initiative is to serve as a catalyst to improve the lives of women, children and families in Los Angeles through expanded, engaged philanthropy.

“We seek to select causes that reflect our passions and we focus on community needs where we can have the greatest impact,” said SAM founder and Palisadian Mindy Freedman. “The projects to which we awarded grants this year fit with our goal of supporting social change through Sustainability, Accountability and Movement (SAM).”

The SAM Initiative is granting $70,000 to L.A. Kitchen. By reclaiming healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, training men and women who are unemployed for jobs and providing healthy meals to fellow citizens, L.A. Kitchen empowers, nourishes and engages the community.

The grant from The SAM Initiative will be used to support wages and fund an apprenticeship program for L.A. Kitchen’s Strong Food social enterprise business. This program will provide the life skills, training and mentorship to ensure employment success.

Food Forward will receive a grant of $60,000 to support its mission in rescuing fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need.

The SAM Initiative grant will specifically provide funding and support for Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program, which recovers thousands of pounds of viable, unwanted produce from wholesale donors in the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) will receive a grant of $40,000 to fund critical move-in costs and provide housing and intensive case management services for 50 women.

DWC’s mission is to provide permanent supportive housing and a safe and healthy community fostering dignity, respect and personal stability, and to advocate ending homelessness for women.

As The SAM Initiative approaches its fourth funding cycle, it plans to continue building relationships within the community that can have meaningful impact.

For more information, visit SAMInitiative.org.

 

2015 Press

UCLA Health Employee News, June 2015

Early Childhood Partial  Hospitalization Program to Get New Playground

(The SAM Initiative formally known as the LA Women's Circle of Giving)

Thanks to a $60,000 donation from the Los Angeles Women’s Circle of Giving, the UCLA Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program (ECPHP) at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA will enjoy a playground renovation specifically designed to facilitate social engagement, address sensory issues and enhance other developmental areas.

ECPHP provides a structured early childhood environment for children ages 2 to 6. Young children who are diagnosed with autism, developmental disabilities or behavioral problems can participate in a 10-week, intensive early intervention program designed to comprehensively assess and improve behavior, social skills and development. The program also provides parents resources and tools to help their children thrive at home, at school and in social settings.

“Our therapy rooms are child-centered and engaging. They look more like preschool classrooms than a hospital setting,” says Stephanny Freeman, PhD, clinical psychologist and co-director of ECPHP. But the one thing the program lacks is an engaging outdoor play area. “We currently have one fenced-in structure on the top-floor, open-air area, but it’s deteriorating and doesn’t provide appropriate therapeutic and play options for the range of children we serve,” says Dr. Freeman.

“The new play area will incorporate therapeutic components with elements that promote gross-and fine-motor skills and social interactions. It’s also designed to engage the senses through touching, climbing, balancing, pushing and pulling,” says Dr. Freeman. An inviting outdoor area that allows kids to safely explore while burning off energy is important since families spend so much time at ECPHP. Children attend sessions from 8 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday.

“Our comprehensive program covers everything from diagnostic assessments to speech and language development to motor skills and social interactions,” says Tanya Paparella, PhD, clinical psychologist and co-director of ECPHP. The program’s multidisciplinary team of experts includes clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, academic therapists, behavior specialists, social workers and nurses.

“We start with a thorough behavioral and developmental assessment of the child and talk to the family about their challenges and needs,” says Dr. Paparella. “We then use this information to tailor an individualized, comprehensive therapeutic program specifically for that child and family.”

ECPHP is currently exploring ways to provide training to members of the community outside of UCLA, such as school professionals, therapists and psychologists in private practices. “Our connection with the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) gives us early access to the latest research findings and therapeutic tools that we can put into practice immediately at ECPHP,” says Dr. Paparella. “Unfortunately, it can take years for others to learn about these advancements. Our goal is to get these tools out to the professional community faster so more families benefit.”

Since we began in 2013, close to 40 women have collaborated to provide grants and donations totaling $150,000. 


UCLA Newsroom, Faculty Bulletin Board, May 13, 2015

Children's Treatment Program Receives Grant For New Playground
(The SAM Initiative was formally known as the LA Women's Circle of Giving)

The Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program at UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, co-directed by Stephanny Freeman and Tanya Paparella, associate professors in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Semel Institute, has received a grant of $60,000 from the LA Women’s Circle of Giving.

The gift will fund a new playground that is developmentally and therapeutically appropriate for the children in the program, which provides state-of-the-science, intensive, short-term, individualized treatment for children with autism, developmental disabilities and behavior disorders.

The LA Women’s Circle of Giving is a group of women who have pooled their charitable dollars to make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in L.A. County. The grant, awarded in a ceremony on May 6, was given on behalf of children in the UCLA program and children who benefit from the many other mental health services at the neuropsychiatric hospital here.

(From left) Jordan Kaplan, Stephanny Freeman and Tanya Paparella of UCLA's Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program; and Mindy Freedman, founder of the LA Women's Circle of Giving.

(From left) Jordan Kaplan, Stephanny Freeman and Tanya Paparella of UCLA's Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program; and Mindy Freedman, founder of the LA Women's Circle of Giving.


2015 Press Release

THE LOS ANGELES WOMEN’S CIRCLE OF GIVING AWARDS $80,000 TO TWO LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

(The SAM Initiative was formerly known as the LA Women's Circle of Giving)

Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program and Camp del Corazon of Los Angeles to Receive This Year’s Grants

 Los Angeles, CA, May, 06, 2015 --- The Los Angeles Women’s Circle of Giving (LAWCOG) today announced that the Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program (ECPHP) and Camp Del Corazon of Los Angeles will be the recipients of this year’s Giving Circle grants of $60,000 and $20,000 respectively.

 LAWCOG is a group of women who have pooled their charitable dollars to impact the lives of women, children and families in Los Angeles County. This is the second year the group has made grants to support local organizations where they can have significant impact.

 “We seek to select causes that reflect our passions and we focus on community needs that can benefit from our time, commitment, abilities and insights,” said LAWCOG founder, Mindy Freedman.

 As LAWCOG approaches its third funding cycle, it plans to continue inspiring women to give and to create a meaningful impact in the community. 

 Freedman continued, “The success of the giving circle is due to the commitment of our members to do more than just write a check. They are a group of like-minded women, inspired by helping others, interested in learning about issues that face our community, and dedicated to make a meaningful difference.” 

 LAWCOG is proud to grant UCLA Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program (ECPHP) $60,000. ECPHP’s mission is to provide treatment for children ages 2-6 with cognitive, developmental and behavioral issues. The grant will be applied to purchase and install a play structure, therapeutic play items, install a bicycle track and sports court for basketball, soccer and hockey. This playground will provide a developmentally and therapeutically appropriate environment to target sensory processing and regulation. ECPHP works alongside many other UCLA programs for children and adolescents with developmental and mental health needs (e.g. ABC, PEERS, and SEEDS), all of whom will have access to the new outdoor playground space.

 Camp Del Corazon will also receive a grant of $20,000 to support its mission to offer families with children suffering from congenital heart disease the opportunity to participate in a full week of summer camp staffed by trained doctors, nurses and volunteers free of charge. LAWCOG’s grant will specifically provide an opportunity for 100 new children ranging in age from 7-17 to experience camp for the first time.

 About Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program

ECPHP is a program within the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA which offers, a range of treatment options for children and adolescents with mental health needs. Co-director Stephanny Freeman has tirelessly spearheaded the implementation of the outdoor playground for the past three years and to whom much credit is due. ECPHP is evermore dedicated to providing comprehensive assessment, intervention and transitioning planning to ameliorate mental health needs through intensive care that include short clinic visits or a full day/evening in hospital environment. Semel.ucla.edu

About Camp Del Corazon/LA  

Founded in 1995, by Kevin Shannon M.Dwith Lisa Knight R.N. Camp Del Corazon of Los Angeles is a community-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization primarily providing summer camp for children with heart disease or a history of heart disease.  They are dedicated to providing experiential programs free of charge not limitedto residential summer camp but offer leadership retreats, Educational symposiums and family weekend programs custom designed to enrich the lives of the unique population they serve. Campdelcorazon.org

About The SAM Initiative

The SAM Initiative is a group of women who have pooled their charitable dollars to impact the lives of women, children and families in Los Angeles County.  Since 2013, the group has donated $130,000 to four local organizations.
* * *
For More Information, Please Contact:
Mindy Freedman, Founder
The SAM Initiative
310.740.1037
www.SAMinitiative.org


2014 Press

Palisadian - Post Article, June 5, 2014

Circle of Giving Grants Inaugural Gift

(The SAM Initiative was formally known as the LA Women's Circle of Giving) Throughout the year, women from the Palisades and surrounding areas have gathered together in local living rooms to create the LA Women’s Circle of Giving, pooling their charitable dollars to make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in Los Angeles County. In their first annual giving cycle, the LA Women’s Circle of Giving allocated a $30,000 grant to CASA of Los Angeles at a dinner on May 14. CASA’s mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles County, and this grant will specifically support advocacy services for older foster youth, aged 12 to 20. n additional grant was also given to “No Limits,” an organization that works with deaf children. “It has been a great experience, coming together as a community to reach out to these charities,” said Bienveneda resident Tatsinda Cohen. “The Circle of Giving is really an amazing way to connect with other women. There are a million charitable organizations out there, but this has really brought us together to make an impact.” Cohen came to the group through her friendship with fellow Kehillat Israel member, Mindy Freedman, who founded the group. “We seek to select causes that reflect our passions and we focus on community needs that can benefit from our time, commitment, abilities and insights,” Freedman said. In addition to advocating for needs, volunteers working with older foster youth encourage them to develop vision and initiative and seek to provide them with the tools, motivation, support and opportunities that they need to become independent, successful adults leading fulfilled lives.
 


Westside Today Article

CASA of Los Angeles Accepts $30,000 Grant

(The SAM Initiative was formally known as The LA Women's Circle of Giving)

The LA Women’s Circle of Giving (LAWCOG) presented a check for $30,000 to CASA of Los Angeles in May as part of its first annual giving cycle. ASA’s mission, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles county, and this grant will specifically support advocacy services for older foster youth, aged 12 to 20. he LA Women’s Circle of Giving is a group of women who have pooled their charitable dollars to make a difference in the lives of women, children, and families in Los Angeles county. uring its first giving cycle, two grants were gifted, the first to CASA of Los Angeles, and the second to “No Limits,” an organization that works with deaf children. The grant was awarded to CASA at a dinner on May 14. “We seek to select causes that reflect our passions and we focus on community needs that can benefit from our time, commitment, abilities and insights,” said LA Women’s Circle of Giving founder Mindy Freedman. “CASA’s work with transitional age youth is an area that is difficult to find funding for and the women of LAWCOG saw this as an opportunity to help a vulnerable group during the critical stage prior to transitioning out of the foster care system.” reedman said the due diligence process illuminated the importance of CASA, which is not a volunteer organization in the casual sense. “The CASA is the most important person who is always holding the child’s best interest at heart,” she said. “It was clear that the CASA is a highly respected voice in the court system and that they successfully advocate for the children they represent. As we learned more about the agency, we became aware of the expertise and commitment of its staff and saw the uniquely important work that they do.” CASA/LA Executive Director Dilys Garcia said the grant from the LA Women’s Circle of Giving was meaningful on so many levels.“Not only does it help us financially, but also provides additional confirmation that the work we are doing is being noticed and making an impact on the lives of foster children in our community,” Garcia said. “We cannot express our thanks enough.” n addition to advocating for their needs, volunteers working with older foster youth encourage them to develop vision and initiative and seek to provide them with the tools, motivation, support, and opportunities that they need to become independent, successful adults, leading fulfilled lives. For more information, visit the CASA of Los Angeles website at www.casala.org.


CASA of Los Angeles Receives Inaugural Grant From The LA Women’s Circle of Giving

(The SAM Initiative was formally known as the LA Women's Circle of Giving)

The LA Women’s Circle of Giving (LAWCOG) has announced that CASA of Los Angeles will be one of the recipients of its first annual giving cycle, receiving a grant of $30,000. CASA’s mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles County, and this grant will specifically support advocacy services for older foster youth, aged 12 to 20.   The LA Women’s Circle of Giving is a group of women based primarily in Brentwood and the Palisades who have pooled their charitable dollars to make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in Los Angeles County. During its first giving cycle, two grants were gifted, the first to CASA of Los Angeles, and the second to “No Limits,” an organization that works with deaf children. The grant was awarded to CASA at a dinner on May 14th.   “We seek to select causes that reflect our passions and we focus on community needs that can benefit from our time, commitment, abilities and insights,” said LA Women’s Circle of Giving founder Mindy Freedman. “CASA’s work with transitional age youth is an area that is difficult to find funding for and the women of LAWCOG saw this as an opportunity to help a vulnerable group during the critical stage prior to transitioning out of the foster care system.”   “The due diligence process illuminated for us the importance of a CASA, which is not a volunteer in the casual sense,” Freedman continued. “The CASA is the most important person who is always holding the child’s best interest at heart. It was clear that the CASA is a highly respected voice in the court system and that they successfully advocate for the children they represent. As we learned more about the agency, we became aware of the expertise and commitment of its staff and saw the uniquely important work that they do.”   “The grant from the LA Women’s Circle of Giving is meaningful on so many levels,” said CASA/LA Executive Director Dilys Garcia. “Not only does it help us financially, but also provides additional confirmation that the work we are doing is being noticed and making an impact on the lives of foster children in our community. We cannot express our thanks enough.”   In addition to advocating for their needs, volunteers working with older foster youth encourage them to develop vision and initiative and seek to provide them with the tools, motivation, support, and opportunities that they need to become independent, successful adults, leading fulfilled lives.   ABOUT CASA/LAFounded in 1978, CASA of Los Angeles is a community-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles County. CASA’s vision is of a Los Angeles where every foster child has an advocate and the opportunity to thrive. Through committed, highly trained everyday citizen volunteers,CASA brings the voice of a concerned community into the child welfare system. Studies have shown that children with CASAs receive more assistance and support than children without, and are more likely to be adopted or returned to their families and less likely to reenter the child welfare system. For more information, please visit the CASA of Los Angeles website: www.casala.org


Links to articles about the SAM initiative

UCLA Health Employee News, June 2015

Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program to Get New Playground

 

Beverly Hills Courier, June 12th, 2015

Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program to Get New Playground

 

Palisadian - Post Article, June 5, 2014

Circle of Giving Grants Inaugural Gift

 

Westside Today Article

CASA of Los Angeles accepts $30,000 grant