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Community Grants Awardees Group Photo

Recipients of Dignity Health's 2018 community grants pose for a photo on Tuesday. Dignity Health Central Coast provided close to $300,000 to five Central Coast nonprofits working on issues related to health access, homelessness and health education.

Contributed photo

Five Central Coast nonprofits received close to $300,000 in grant money Tuesday from Dignity Health Central Coast to "help aid in the critical health and human services they provide."

The funds, awarded as part of Dignity's Community Grants Program, will help groups whose missions are to help "build healthier communities" by improving health and living conditions for Central Coast residents. Emphasis for this year's grant cycle was placed on programs that improve access to health care (including mental health), educate the community or work to address homelessness, cardiovascular disease and stroke or cancer.

20 Now Santa Maria — a collaborative effort involving the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness (C3H), Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness and other direct service providers — was awarded a grant to help "identify, assess, and provide services to 20 chronically homeless individuals." Ten individuals will be moved to permanent supportive housing; all 20 will receive services with the goal of reducing emergency room usage by 50 percent.

The Good Samaritan Shelter and allied public health agencies were awarded a grant to support the Warm Hand Off Project, a case management and mental health program for homeless individuals and families. The project will span the Santa Maria and Five Cities areas and focus on assessing and treating for mild to moderate mental health issues in clients. 

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Funding was also provided to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, which works to improve access to prediabetic and diabetic care for low-income residents in Santa Maria and Lompoc. The program will refer individuals to Marian Regional Medical Center's Diabetes Empowerment Education (DEEP) Program and provide biweekly food boxes to participating individuals for six months. The group hopes to help individuals improve their diabetic conditions.

Also awarded grants were projects that seek to expand access to cancer screening and primary care in northern San Luis Obispo County and a program to provide respite care to homeless individuals discharged from area hospitals.

The $295,971 was awarded to representatives during a breakfast. 

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga