Neighborhood Grants Program – Small Grants, Big Impact

Neighborhood Grants Program – Small Grants, Big Impact

Gabriel Trujillo is only 18, yet the North Monterey County High School graduate has big ideas about wanting kids in his small community of Castroville to think big about higher education.

As president of the Castroville Midnighters Car Club Youth group, Trujillo has helped organize car washes to raise money to take high school students on college trips.

“We want to open kids eyes in Castroville to show what college is like, that they can go to college too,”- Gabriel Trujillo, NGP Grantee Castroville Midnighters Car Club

The Castroville Midnighters Car Club have taken local students to visit and experience Stanford University, UC Berkeley, San Jose State and UC Davis with one student from the tour having successfully enrolled at UC Davis.

Rewarding Grassroots Projects

More college tours are in the works, as the Castroville Midnighters Car Club are among 12 neighborhood groups awarded grants as part of the 2016 Community Foundation for Monterey County’s (CFMC) Neighborhood Grants Program (NGP).  Recently the 12 grassroots groups from throughout Monterey County gathered at Hartnell College in Salinas to celebrate their selection. A total of $35,000 in grants was given out by the CFMC with grants ranging from $1,500 to $4,000.

“The Community Foundation for Monterey County is committed to supporting volunteer-led groups who are providing positive impact in the community,” Aurelio Salazar Jr.  –  CFMC Program Officer.

NGP works to reward and encourage local residents who come together to improve their communities for themselves and their neighbors.

Other features of the program include CFMC staff assisting grantees with leadership and project management training throughout the year. Grantees receive financial support and additional assistance to organize activities in their respective communities.

Since the Neighborhood Grants Program inception in 1997, $925,560 has been awarded.”

Variety of Projects & Locations

group3.best2015 grantees represent wide swaths of interests – from Mexican and Korean cultural groups, to an environmental food justice group to a group dedicated to providing school supplies to students in Gonzales.

One group, “Mountain Bike Monday’s”, wants kids to simply get off the couch and get outdoors on their bikes.

“It’s just fun,” said Kelly Damschen, a 7th grade math teacher at Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas who provides instruction. “It’s a sport that’s noncompetitive that pretty much anyone can do.”

For more information about NGP go to:

The 2016 grantees are:

  • African-American HIV-AIDS Wellness Group (Seaside): For health prevention and awareness around HIV-AIDS
  • Ballet Folklorico Tapatío (King City): For Ballet Folklorico dance instruction and community performances
  • Castroville Midnighters Car Club (Castroville) For college campus tour for North Monterey County youth
  • Familias Caminando Asi al el Exito (King City) For physical and mental health activities
  • Gonzales Lions Club (Gonzales) For back to school supplies for Fairview Middle School students in Gonzales
  • Korean Cultural Club (Salinas) For Korean culture, language and dance instruction
  • LULAC Youth Council (Salinas) For farmworker youth leadership training and community service projects
  • Monsori Samulnori Band (Pacific Grove) For Korean music instruction and community performances
  • Monterey Peninsula NAACP Youth Council (Seaside) For youth leadership training and annual youth summit expenses
  • Mountain Bike Mondays (Salinas) For mountain bike training, youth leadership development and parent-child engagement
  • Seaside Blade Runners (Seaside) For youth development through basketball training
  • Semillas Project (Salinas) For nutrition education and food justice workshops

The mission of the CFMC is to inspire philanthropy and be a catalyst for strengthening communities throughout Monterey County. The CFMC has granted over $137 million to nonprofits working towards healthy, safe, vibrant communities. In 2015 the CFMC awarded $9.7 million to more than 500 nonprofit organizations in Monterey County and beyond. For more information explore, call 831.375.9712 or stay connected at  or