Impact Giving holds annual grant awards

At their 15th annual grant awards event on June 6, Laguna Beach-based Impact Giving, a collective women’s giving group, honored the work of five diverse nonprofits, giving them $135,000 to help continue their humanitarian efforts.

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Photos by Shastina Torres Photography

Founders and Founding Board (L-R): Sam Dawson, Ann Duncan Levy, Karen Wilson, Amy Larson and Elizabeth Gosselin

Top recipient, Bracken’s Kitchen, received $40,000 towards the purchase of a $120,000 refrigerated truck to rescue food otherwise destined for landfills. Based in Orange County since 2013, Bracken’s Kitchen aims to rescue 280 tons of edible, unused food in 2024, turning it into healthy meals for the estimated 400,000 people in Orange County who struggle with food insecurity, primarily the working poor. With their new refrigerated truck, Bracken’s Kitchen will be able to rescue food from organizations that require refrigeration, like Amazon.

To turn the rescued food into nutritious meals for those who need it most, Bracken’s Kitchen trains at risk youth and young adults, who, while working alongside professional chefs, learn essential skills for careers in food service.  According to its founder, Bill Bracken, “We are committed to reusing, repurposing and restoring both food and lives.”

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2024 grant recipients (L-R): Orangewood Foundation – Barry MacManus, board member; EverFree – Kelsey Morgan, CEO; Bracken’s Kitchen – Bill Bracken, founder and culinary director; Stand up for Kids – Justine Palmore, executive director and Hope Builders – Shawna Smith, executive director

Orangewood Foundation, one of the leading providers of services to Orange County’s vulnerable youth, received $30,000 for its Lighthouse program aimed at healing survivors of sex trafficking. Beginning in 2017, the program provides two years of transitional housing, intensive case management and therapeutic support to sex trafficking survivors, aged 18-30. Participants have a safe place to live – a caring and nurturing home environment – where they receive 24/7 support.

Lighthouse is one of Orangewood’s newer programs, augmenting the work they continue to do offering individualized guidance to youth, often former foster kids. Orangewood counselors help their clients identify their strengths and aptitudes, empowering them to overcome physical, emotional and relational challenges to reach their greatest potential and navigate a path to independent adulthood.

StandUp for Kids Orange County focuses on ending youth homelessness in Orange County by providing basic needs – housing, mentoring, support services and love to homeless youth 12-24. They received $25,000 to implement their Roadmap to Success program in a fourth high school, Godinez High School in Santa Ana where, according to the Orange County Department of Education, 13% of the students are homeless. Along with satisfying students’ basic needs, the mentoring program aims to deter teen pregnancy, gang involvement and increase high school graduation rates. The funds will be used to partially pay a case manager to oversee the program at Godinez High School.

EverFree received $20,000 to expand their global work to end human trafficking to Orange County. With their Freedom Lifemaps software, EverFree goes beyond rescuing victims to preventing trafficking before it happens. A survivor-led online tool, responders identify root causes of exploitation and discover what programs are most impactful at preventing it. The nonprofit listens to survivors to hear how they define freedom and connect them to the individualized care they need to achieve it.

In partnership with the Orangewood Foundation, the OC Task Force on Human Trafficking and OC Social Services, the Freedom Lifemap software will help agencies gather data and feedback from survivors, social workers and counselors. The non-profit’s global network applies these insights to scale prevention and aftercare solutions. Pilot programs are currently operating in seven countries. EverFree is supplying the technology free of charge to all partners. The grant monies will be used to fund a program manager who will guide Orange County participants in using the software.

Every year, Hope Builders enrolls more than 200 young adults in Orange County who are caught in a cycle of poverty and strives to help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency with mentorship, life skills and job skills training that meet the needs of local employers.

This year, Hope Builders received $20,000 to expand their Clinical Medical Assisting program that prepares young adults to launch careers in the health field. Trainees learn to measure vital signs, assist physicians with procedures, give injections and record electrocardiograms. Participants work with a support specialist to address barriers to employment, including financial assistance for childcare and transportation, a weekly stipend and discipline by requiring they show up every day, on time and dressed professionally.

Funding will be used to increase the number of young adults Hope Builders connects to healthcare careers from 91 trainees in 2023 to 166 in 2024.

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Partners and Grant Committee members Marie Crosson and Susan Giusto

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Grants Chair Kathy Osann and Program and Operations Manager Kim Fry

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(L-R) Sarah Hartman, Alex Robinson, Brittany Renna, Julie Weber and Jessica Guzman

Impact Giving was founded in Laguna Beach in 2009 by a handful of like-minded women committed to making the world better with the understanding that they could accomplish more together than individually. It has grown to more than 140 women, committed to engaging, educating and empowering each other and their nonprofit communities, through the power of collective giving.

Since its inception, the organization has given away more than $2 million to more than 50 local and international nonprofits. Impact Giving partners can nominate favorite nonprofits for grants. Applicants are vetted by partners who volunteer to be on grant committees. Finalists are then voted on by all partners. Partners each contribute $1,500 annually. Those under 40, enjoy the benefits of partnership for $850 a year.

To learn more about Impact Giving or to become a partner, visit

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