Impact100 Sonoma Members See First-hand the Impact of Their Efforts

Sonoma, CA—September 30, 2013

On Saturday, September 28, members of Impact100 Sonoma were able to see first-hand the impact that they are making in Sonoma Valley.  Only three months ago, they awarded the $100,000 Impact Grant to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) to support SmartStart – a program to expand early learning opportunities for children at high-risk of entering Kindergarten without the necessary social, behavioral, and academic skills crucial for early learning and school success.  Those funds have already begun transforming a classroom at Sassarini Elementary School into the location for a new preschool that will soon be welcoming 24 young children to begin their education with a huge advantage.

Laura Zimmerman, SVEF Executive Director, welcomed the Impact100 members to Sassarini and shared current research about the importance of the preschool experience in a child’s educational success.  She also described how that success affects the entire family, who are also invested in the process.  “The needs are very high in our valley. Preschool is the way kids get a fair chance – a difference that lasts a lifetime.”  She described how the Impact Grant will open the door for children to have success.  “That’s why you are called Impact and I want to thank you.”

Maite Iturri, Principal of El Verano School where a preschool program has already proved successful, agreed on the importance of parent participation.  Monthly meetings help parents to establish a learning environment at home that reinforces the same strategies being used in the classroom.  Those meetings were described as critical by Shelby Rico, mother of a recent preschool graduate.  She and the other parents attending such meetings participated in the same educational activities that their children experienced – even “running around the classroom doing the chicken dance,” so that they could understand the importance of encouraging an inquisitive mind and how different activities support learning. She feels fortunate that her son now loves learning and to her it is clear that children thrive when they know that their parents are excited about their learning.

The heart-felt words of thanks expressed and a brief tour of the newly re-furbished classroom confirmed the value of investing in the work of our Sonoma Valley nonprofits.  Each September, Impact100 members gather for project updates such as these from the organizations awarded Impact Grants at the Annual Meeting held in June.  This year, members also received grateful updates from the 2013 Impact Grant finalists: the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation (SVHF) and Willmar Family Grief & Healing Center, each of whom received $20,000 from Impact100 Sonoma.

Sharon Nevins, SVHF Treasurer, described the new bilingual services that are being made available without charge to all women within the valley.  Impact100 funding supported new furnishings, computers, printers, software, and a lending library available at the Women’s Health and Resource Center on Perkins Street.

Barbara Cullens, Executive Director at Willmar, described the use of their peer support group model and expressive arts for children, teens, and adults healing through trauma after a catastrophic loss.  Impact100 funds will provide new cabinets, chairs, tables, and other furnishings plus art supplies and volunteer training.  She described Impact100 Sonoma as “a vital and valuable part of Willmar.”

Impact100 Sonoma is a philanthropic organization started in August 2009 that brings together at least 100 women in a common purpose: to award an impact grant of $100,000 every year to a Sonoma Valley nonprofit organization that would otherwise not have access to this level of funding. The organization’s mission is to increase the number of women involved in local philanthropy, raise awareness of the unmet needs of nonprofits in Sonoma Valley, encourage members to become more involved with local charities, and make an impact on the long-term sustainability of Sonoma Valley’s nonprofit community.  In only four short years, Impact100 has grown from 110 members to 228 and has awarded grants totalling $690,000 to 32 Sonoma Valley nonprofits.

Information about Impact100 Sonoma may be found at or by calling 707-939-5007.