Women’s Economic Ventures helps women (and men) reach their entrepreneurial goals. Read story.
By Melissa Mininni
Time to Work for Yourself?
Women’s Economic Ventures Helps Women (and Men) Reach Their Entrepreneurial Goals
Saturday, January 28, 2012
by MELISSA MININNI
There’s an idea I’ve had for months now: wouldn’t it be great to run a combination pet store and singles bar? Customers could play with gerbils while sipping their favorite microbrew. But like many would-be entrepreneurs, I’m short on confidence, cash, and a clue about what to do next. Luckily, the knowledgeable staff at Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) can help with all three.
WEV is a local nonprofit that provides tools for both women and men to realize their entrepreneurial goals, whether it be launching a venture or expanding an existing business. Consulting, coaching services, and even startup loans are available, but at the core of the organization are two courses that shepherd participants through the process of writing a business plan: the Self-Employment Training (SET) program, and the Business Plan Intensive (BPI) program. The two are essentially the same, although BPI is a serious undertaking, as it distills the 14-week SET curriculum into a vertigo-inducing six weeks.
“We try and make it clear that it really will be a lot of work,” said Katie Walters, SET instructor and owner of Circa Vintage Modern, a mid-century furniture and accessories boutique in Arroyo Grande. She spoke at a recent orientation session, mandatory for anyone thinking about taking the SET or BPI programs. These sessions give potential entrepreneurs an overview of the program, as well as a sense of what they’re in for, both in the class and as business owners.
Walter’s path to small business ownership came when she first taught the SET class at WEV and decided to take the course along with her students. She described how students come together to support and energize each other, holding one another accountable and creating a network that retains its value long after the course has finished.
A recent graduate of the SET program, Karen Czuleger agreed. “We’re still connected,” she said of her fellow students, crediting that connection with helping her to stay motivated. Although she only finished the course in December 2011, Czuleger has already launched her business, Painted Sea Star Studio, where she turns her watercolor paintings of the Santa Barbara coastline into eco-friendly greeting cards and a 2012 calendar. Her designs have sold at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market and Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara.
Following the business strategy she outlined with the help of WEV, Czuleger has plans to expand sales in the coming year. “They told us during the program, you have to take it one step at a time,” she said. “And at the end you have this notebook that keeps you focused, from day to month to year.” Like many who contemplate starting a business, Czuleger explained how frightening it was. But the exercise of writing a business plan was invaluable. “I finished 1,000 times more confident than when I started.”
The confidence boost is perhaps most valuable when contemplating starting a business in a struggling economy. “The classic [put down] people hear is, ‘Who do you think you are? Don’t you know it’s a bad economy?’” said Walters. But for many people, that’s exactly when working for yourself becomes a necessity. WEV was conceived by founder Marsha Bailey during a recession. She wanted to provide people, women in particular, with employment opportunities. AndWEV is good at it — a 2009 survey found that 12 to 18 months after taking the course, 63 percent of former students were operating a business. Owners of existing businesses who took the SET course reported an average sales increase of 73 percent over the same time frame.
So would Walters endorse my kitty litter and margaritas idea? “I don’t ever tell anybody not to do something, but I ask a lot of questions,” she said. “I’m there to be a sounding-board and also the voice of reason, to a certain extent.” It’s not uncommon for people to enter the SET program with one idea, and finish with one that’s very different. At WEV they won’t talk you out of anything, but they will help you put together your business plan and decide for yourself.
SET runs twice a year, with the next program starting in February. Attend an orientation to find out if you’re ready. Here’s a list of upcoming orientations:
- Monday, January 30th in Santa Barbara (6–7 p.m.)
- Tuesday, January 31st in Buellton (6–7 p.m.)
- Tuesday, January 31st in Thousand Oaks (6–7 p.m.)
- Thursday, February 2nd in Ventura (12–1 p.m.)
United Way of Santa Barbara County Forges Financial Empowerment Partnership
Banks, nonprofits and schools will collaborate to provide free tax preparation for low-income families and financial literacy workshops
By Alex Kacik, Noozhawk Business Writer | @NoozhawkBiz | Published on 01.26.2012
Volunteer Bob Correa has been helping low-income families prepare their taxes for free for more than 30 years and helped launch the Volunteers Income Tax Assistance program in Santa Barbara County.
As United Way of Santa Barbara County announced the new coordination of the VITA services and financial literacy workshops, Frank Quezeda of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara says it wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers like Correa.
“The reasons why these programs are successful is not because the coordinators or the organizations but the volunteers,” Quezeda told local officials and community leaders at the United Way offices Wednesday. “I want to recognize our long-standing volunteer who has been doing this for over 30 years. Without Bob, the VITA program wouldn’t exist.”
The Financial Empowerment Partnership is a collaboration of local high schools, nonprofits and banks that offers free tax preparation for low-income families and financial literacy workshops.
Last year, the program served 2,161 families in Santa Barbara County, amounting to $4.14 million in tax refunds, United Way CEO and President Paul Didier said.
“The numbers are astonishing. This is money on the table that rightfully belongs to residents of the community,” Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneidersaid. “It’s fair that they get the money that’s owed to them so they can have their lives be as self-sustainable as possible, so they can afford health care, educational tools and basic needs. A program like this creates a better community.”
United Way, Montecito Bank & Trust and the Housing Authority provide a series of financial literacy workshops for students and adults.
“This program and partnership have hosted financial literacy classes that make sure more of the participants have savings account so they can save for their kid’s college education and plan for retirement,” Didier said. “It’s all about creating long-term financial assets so they can become a part of the community.”
United Way will also host four “Mega Tax Days” in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Isla Vista that will offer financial literacy resources, special offers on savings and checking accounts, and support from various nonprofits and businesses.
“They give families the tools they need in order to put these refunds to work by saving and building a stronger financial future,” Montecito Bank & Trust President and CEO Janet Garufis said. “Families learn how to use a bank, how to balance a budget, the importance of saving, and the benefits and risks of credit.”
Other community leaders attended the announcement, including representatives for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, county Clerk-Recorder Joseph Holland, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, Dos Pueblos High School and the Santa Barbara High School Dons Net Café.
Margo Kline: Symphony in Fine Fettle with Guest Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers
Soloist adds star quality as the Santa Barbara ensemble lights up the Granada Theatre
By Margo Kline, Noozhawk Contributor | Published on 01.23.2012
The orchestra was in fine fettle on Sunday at the Granada Theatre, and Meyers was right in tune, playing with obvious gusto. She brought to her performance an extra note of bravado — she is eight months pregnant, while touring with her customary brilliance and what looked like energy to spare.
Maestro Nir Kabaretti led the orchestra through a vivid sampling of works, starting off with Johann Sebastian Bach’sBrandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. All of the strings were commanding, especially the violas, and this effervescent work was a good opener.
It was followed by Ernest Bloch’s 1925 Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra and Piano Obligato, a resolutely tonal work that Bloch composed as he was leaving his post as director of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Bloch’s students were heady with ideas about atonality and “modern” forms, and this was the composer’s illustration of how a tonal work could still fit in those “modern” times.
After intermission, the orchestra essayedJoseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 in G Minor, known as “The Hen.” This is one of Haydn’s “Paris Symphonies,” written in 1785 on the fly, as it were, while the composer was also serving as Prince Esterhazy’s opera producer and director in Hungary. Anyone who thinks the early composers were stuffy has only to listen to “The Hen” to appreciate Haydn’s humor and good nature.
Then came the eagerly anticipated performance by Meyers, who played The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, Rhapsodie de Concert for violin and orchestra. After a standing, shouting ovation, Meyers returned to play one encore, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.
The violinist would seem to have it all: striking beauty, a prodigious musical gift, and an education at the Colburn School of Performing Arts at Indiana Universityand, finally, the Juilliard School. She also had her first baby in 2010 and is preparing to welcome a new one practically any minute now.
Santa Barbara Officials, Residents Come Face to Face for Westside’s Future
Police Chief Cam Sanchez commits to creating a citizen’s academy as ideas to improve community emerge at Westside Action Summit
By Daniel Langhorne, Noozhawk Intern | @NoozhawkNews | Published on 01.21.2012
Residents of Santa Barbara’s Westside proposed solutions to provide a better quality of life for their neighborhood Saturday, and elected leaders and police officials seemed to listen.
About 200 people gathered in the gymnasium of the Westside Boys & Girls Club to hear the results of brainstorming sessions on youth programming, forming a Westside neighborhood association and issues affecting women.
“We wanted to create our own identity rather than having the community create an identity for us,” said Roane Ackhurin, co-chairwoman of the Westside neighborhood committee.
The Westside Action Summit was sponsored by local nonprofits Just Communities and THRIVE Westside to help community members connect with public officials. The hope is that the relationships developed this weekend will translate into the city and Santa Barbara County devoting staff and funds to implement residents’ ideas.
Jarrod Schwartz, executive director of Just Communities, said one breakthrough was Police Chief Cam Sanchez’s pledge to fund a citizen’s academy to help educate the Westside’s large Spanish-speaking population about how the Police Department operates.
The attendance of the city’s top cop and the plan for the academy was reassuring for Manny Casas, a board member of Palabra, a nonprofit organization that helps former Latino gang members live productive lives after incarceration.
But Casas believes police officers need more training on how to create a more friendly relationship with Westside residents — using principles of good customer service.
“The police do not see our community as customers,” he said. “They see us as a population that needs to be controlled.”
By getting out of patrol cars and developing personal relationships, police may find a much warmer atmosphere among those they are sworn to protect, Casas said.
Newly inaugurated City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, herself a Westside resident, said the most moving moment of Saturday’s event for her was seeing women conversing in Spanish with the bilingual Sanchez and through interpreters with Officer Kasi Beutel.
“These women understand that they have to learn English but they’re also asking the police officers to learn a little Spanish,” Murillo said.
Margherita Martin-Ocampo of the Westside Women’s Group said the cooperation to erase language barriers was a good start.
“We want to feel safe and we want to be safe,” she told the summit’s audience in English during remarks that were mostly in Spanish.
The presentations by Martin-Ocampo and the other committee leaders were inspired by roundtable discussions among 122 community members over the past nine weeks, Schwartz said.
Among the proposals was increasing youth access to after-school programs. Leticia Carrillo, chairwoman of the youth group, said existing programs can partly meet this demand but they need to be better marketed because not all Westside parents have Internet access at home.
She said there is a demand for quality youth programming with staff, coaches and organizations, but some families can’t afford to spend $200 a week on art classes.
“A lot of people are very impressed with what Girls Inc. already has but what’s prohibitive is the cost,” Carrillo said.
There is still an overarching call for a zócalo, or public square, which is an important gathering place in many Latin American cities, said Ackhurin. The lack of a central meeting place on the Westside has fractured the ethnically, linguistically and socially diverse community, she said.
“We’ve kind of been in our own silos,” she said.
Holding summer movie nights on the lawn at La Cumbre Junior High School or painting a mural that embodies the Westside have been pitched to bring the community together.
In addition to Murillo, among the officials who attended Saturday were Mayor Helene Schneider, City Councilman Randy Rowse, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent David Cash, 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf.
Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors included the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing,ParentClick.com, Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.
THRIVE Westside is a partnership of Harding University Partnership School,McKinley School, La Cumbre Junior High School, San Marcos High School, the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the James S. Bower Foundation, Just Communities, One Nation Foundation, the Orfalea Foundations and the Santa Barbara Foundation.
Bill Macfadyen: Let’s Talk Westside, Where THRIVE Is Alive
Best of Noozhawk 01.20.12 also features bells tolling for SOPA and PIPA, alarms sounding for scams, and a boarding call for Portland
By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk | Published on 01.20.2012
Late last year, the nonprofit Just Communities invited Noozhawk to partner up on an online public-engagement project for THRIVE Westside, a foundation-led initiative aimed at identifying community-building improvements for Santa Barbara’s Westside. We leaped at the opportunity.
Thanks to Noozhawk’s own partner, MindMixer, we were able to quickly put together Let’s Talk Westside, a virtual town hall that enabled Noozhawk readers and Internet users to join the conversations that were occurring in small, face-to-face meetings over about a two-month period. If you couldn’t be there in person, Let’s Talk Westside offered a pathway to participation that expanded the universe by more than 1,500 people.
Your time is almost up if you haven’t yet gotten involved. Just Communities and the THRIVE organizers are holding the final wrap-up session Saturday and the public is invited to join the summit from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Westside Boys & Girls Club, 602 W. Anapamu St. All of the groups — along with Let’s Talk Westside participants — will be discussing the suggestions, choosing strategies to pursue and creating action plans to turn the ideas into reality.
Among the more popular ideas:
» Improving police-community relations through dialogue and collaboration
» Creating a Westside zócalo or town plaza where the neighborhood’s diverse residents can come together
» Establishing a women’s resource center at which women can talk about the joys and challenges of motherhood and receive advice about professional services, career training and other topics
» Improving lighting
» Strengthening businesses and economic development
» Improving Bohnett Neighborhood Park
» Improving youth services
» Building a community swimming pool
» Addressing gangs and bullying
» Developing a per-to-peer mentoring program through which college students mentor high school students and high school students mentor junior high students
Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne will have a follow-up story Saturday night, but please try to attend the meeting if you can.
Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors include the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing, ParentClick.com,Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.
THRIVE Westside is a partnership ofHarding University Partnership School, McKinley School, La Cumbre Junior High School, San Marcos High School, the Santa Barbara Unified School District, theJames S. Bower Foundation, Just Communities, One Nation Foundation, theOrfalea Foundations and the Santa Barbara Foundation.
Last weekend, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its evil twin, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), ran into a snag when the Obama administration and a top House leader, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., blasted the more extreme aspects of the highly dubious copyright protection legislation.
By the end of the week, the whole effort had unraveled when Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, SOPA’s lead sponsor in the House of Representatives, announced he would pull the bill until the quite legitimate concerns of the World Wide Web could be properly considered and heeded. Even PIPA champion and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had backed away from forcing a vote in the Senate.
Censorship opponents can breathe a sigh of relief but vigilance is required. This battle has demonstrated that most of our politicians are clueless about the genius of the Internet and its freedoms and they’re stuck in a time warp, trying to prop up the fossilized entertainment and legacy media industries. Sorry, dudes, you’re betting on the wrong horses.
Speaking of con jobs, authorities say scams are on the rise locally with an array of fraudulent tricks that involves money orders, online sales and even “law enforcement.” In an interview with Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dan McGrew’s advice was about as simple as it gets: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So beware, and don’t give out your personal information, no matter how politely and convincingly that beleaguered scion of Nigerian royalty asks.
Alaska Airlines will begin daily $99 flights between Santa Barbara and Portland,Santa Barbara Airport officials announced Jan. 19. The flights don’t start until June but the news was flying around the Internet as Noozhawk readers made it the week’s most forwarded story.
Planes leaving from Santa Barbara may not know the way to San Jose and the Silicon Valley any longer but we can get to Portland in two hours and Oregon’s coolest city, Eugene, in about four.
Speaking of Eugene, I know “It never rains in Autzen Stadium,” but, man, is it raining in the rest of the Willamette Valley! Best of luck to all of my Duck friends threatened by flooding. Stay high and dry!
Santa Barbara County officials say the local poverty rate has increased 52 percent since 2007 and the Board of Supervisors voted Jan. 17 to accept a public/private partnership proposal from the Santa Barbara Foundation to try to figure out what to do about it.
Foundations have been pouring more and more money into social services functions over the last few years as government agencies claim destitution. I trust the Santa Barbara Foundation’s involvement will ensure that this research and the expected report will find meaningful implementation.
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Steve Jacobsen: New Year Brings New and Increased Understanding
Hospice of Santa Barbara continues to expand its presence in helping the community heal from grief and loss
By Steve Jacobsen | Published on 01.16.2012
Entering a new year has particular resonance at Hospice of Santa Barbaraand to our clients and patients as well.
We all seek to live another day, another year and beyond. Most of us assume that we will — particularly when we are young and healthy. For the elderly and those dealing with a terminal illness, however, time is not something that is taken for granted. Each day is a milestone and a gift.
For those who are grieving the death of a loved one, the new year may be both painful and a relief. Most of us use time as a healer, and the passage into a new year may help someone move on in a symbolic way.
At the same time, each day that goes by is another day without that someone we love. It’s a bittersweet transition.
As for Hospice of Santa Barbara, we look to the new year with renewed purpose and a sense of fulfillment. While 2011 did not go by without its share of death and loss, it also marked an important period in our growth to serve the dying and those who love them.
More of our friends and neighbors in Santa Barbara are coming to Hospice of Santa Barbara to confront their fears, deal with their grief and sorrow, and move toward a new day of hope and renewal. We are seeing more than 500 adult clients a month, and 132 children. More friends in our community volunteered and made financial donations to help us accomplish our work.
The conversation and expressions about death, as a part of life, continue to expand. For example, we have increased our presence to include high schools in the greater Santa Barbara area, and we have a growing Latino and Spanish-speaking presence (traditionally a community not as comfortable talking about these issues) seeking our services. We are also utilizing creative and expressive means, including our art exhibitions, to talk about these important issues in new ways.
As always, I’m humbled to be part of an organization whose mission is to provide free programs and services that help our community heal from grief and loss so that we may all look to a brighter 2012 — and life marches on. Happy New Year!
— Steve Jacobsen is executive director of Hospice of Santa Barbara. Call Hospice of Santa Barbara at 805.563.8820 for a schedule of adult and children’s groups, or to make a donation. Connect with Hospice of Santa Barbara on Facebook.