Nonprofit dealing $115K in cuts from state money

NORTH COUNTY — The #MeToo movement put a spotlight on sexual harassment and sexual assault, and with it came much-needed funding. Locally RISE, a rape crisis center and a domestic violence shelter, benefited from additional grant money from the state in 2018-19, not realizing it was one-time funding.

According to Jane Pomeroy, newly named executive director of RISE, an additional $5 million for rape crisis centers and an equal amount for domestic violence shelters was approved by then-California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“After 2018, we saw our grants dramatically increase,” said Pomeroy, who was named executive director of RISE on Jan. 2. “So, we hired staff and invested in operations, and then when we got our grant award amounts this year, they reverted back to the previous amounts.”

It had not been made clear to organizations “like us that it was one-time funding,” Pomeroy said. “I’ve heard through the grapevine that others were surprised as well that it was one-time funding.”

RISE is looking at about $115,000 less coming in from grants. It hit the nonprofit particularly hard because it is a dual agency.

“We are a rape crisis center and a domestic violence shelter. Around half of our funding comes from state and federal funds,” Pomeroy said. “We have multiple grants with the state from several different organizations. We are not unique. There is one of us in every county in California.”

RISE formed in 1975, and Pomeroy said the funding loss would not force them to close.

“No, no, not at all,” Pomeroy said. “We are calling on the community to fill in the gap. We are also working with Jordan Cunningham, the partnership and the coalition to advocate for more funding.”

Me Too was first coined in 2006 by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke. In early October of 2017, following allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein, the movement added a hashtag and went viral. People felt empowered to come forward and seek help.

“With the onset of the #MeToo movement, more and more people came forward, our wait list was at an all-time high, our crisis calls more than doubled, and with that came a lot of policy advocacy,” said Pomeroy, who has been with RISE for five years. She’s been the interim executive director for the past six months.

Two advocacy groups were instrumental in getting additional funding — California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Pomeroy said they continue to work with the organizations and state and federal legislators on funding.

At the end of each year, RISE appeals to the community to provide support by donating money or time. 

New this year, RISE started the monthly-donor program — Friends of RISE.

Pomeroy is confident that with the community’s support, they can overcome the gap.

“I have been awed by the support that has come through so far,” she said. “And, if people feel like they can’t donate money. We are always looking for people who can donate their time.”

For more information, visit RISEslo.org.

Getting through this together, Atascadero