Long-Term Fire Relief Grants Awarded as “California Rises”

California Fire Foundation Distributes Millions in Funds from Governor’s Inaugural Concert

The long and hard work of rebuilding fire-shattered communities got an important assist this month as California continues to rise from the ashes.

The California Fire Foundation issued nearly $3 million in grants to community organizations working on the ground to help rebuild and renew communities scarred by the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. The grants, generally ranging from $200,000 to $250,000, were funded by proceeds from “California Rises”, the January 6th benefit concert held to mark the inauguration of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Featuring musical acts such as Common and Pitbull, “California Rises” was conceived by then Gov.-elect Newsom as a substitute for a more traditional inaugural gala. Through sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandise, the event netted more than $4.5 million for long-term wildfire recovery in areas hit hard by the Camp, Carr, Hill, and Woolsey Fires of 2018 as well as the North Bay Firestorm and Thomas Fire of 2017 and the Erskine Fire from 2016.

The grant allocations announced in August represent the first phase of grant distribution by the California Fire Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by California Professional Firefighters, which was the fiduciary sponsor of the concert.

“As firefighters, it’s our mission to protect the lives and property of the communities we serve, but we are also part of these same communities,” said Brian K. Rice, chair of the California Fire Foundation. “We appreciate the trust the governor showed in our Foundation to do right by the communities hit hardest by the effects of these catastrophic fires.”

The first phase of grants support community foundations and other groups who have been working since the events of 2017 and 2018 to help their respective communities heal and come out on the other side. Many have focused particular attention on those still struggling to rebuild their lives and recover from the devastation.

The recipient organizations were strictly vetted by the California Fire Foundation to ensure they were working directly on long-term relief. The North Valley Community Foundation was the largest recipient, receiving $250,000 to support direct relief to victims of the Camp Fire, as well as serving as a conduit for four separate $250,000 grants directed to individual initiatives supporting health care, rebuilding and communication, as well as mental and emotional support in Butte County schools. Other recipients include:

  • Direct Relief, a statewide aid organization providing long-term health care support and emergency assistance for victims of all of the fires;

  • North Coast Opportunities’ “Coming Home” project, working to help Tubbs Fire victims return home;

  • The California Community Foundation, which supports vulnerable communities hit hard by the Hill, Thomas and Woolsey Fires in Southern California;

  • The Ventura County Community Foundation, providing housing and mental health support for surviving families;

  • Shasta Regional Community Foundation, for gap and reconstruction funding via NorCal CRT after the Carr Fire;

  • The Community Foundation of Mendocino County, to rebuild fire prevention and community resilience

  • The Kern Valley Long Term Recovery Group, continuing to work on behalf of victims of the massive 2016 Erskine Fire.

“The size of these grants will make a real difference for organizations working with those who continue to suffer the effects of the fires long after they have gone out,” said Rice. “The Foundation has worked hard to ensure that those on the ground are the ones getting the assistance.”

Remaining funds raised for long term wildfire relief will be disbursed via additional grant opportunities over the coming months.