The West Marin Fund is a community foundation supporting the longterm wellbeing of coastal West Marin. The Fund provides grants and training for local nonprofits, convenes community members to act on important community issues, and educates full and part-time residents about community needs.
The Fund serves the West Marin coastal area, from Muir Beach in the south to Dillon Beach in the north, and the contiguous ranch lands. The area includes the 11 unincorporated villages of Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Olema, Inverness, Inverness Park, Point Reyes Station, Marshall, Dillon Beach, Nicasio, and Tomales.
The Fund is a 501(c)(3) California public benefit nonprofit corporation. All donations to the West Marin Fund are fully tax-deductible.
The role of nonprofits in the area has become increasingly critical as government funds for education, health, infrastructure, parks, conservation, community arts, and other vital activities are cut. Nonprofits strive to fill the gap, but costs for support and services are rising and donations to nonprofits are decreasing.
The Bay Area’s foundations provide important support to nonprofits in West Marin, but they cannot meet all community needs. West Marin nonprofits have chronically suffered from insufficient operating funds, and that problem has grown far worse in the last several years. In the last few years,
- The Coastal Health Alliance lost $300,000 in federal funds (representing 8% of its budget), even as the demand for services from uninsured patients increased.
- Gallery Route One, a nonprofit community art center providing school and environmental art programs, lost 11% of its annual operating budget due to a cutback in foundation giving.
- The Shoreline Unified School District, serving 555 elementary and secondary school students, was forced to cut $1,000,000 from its budget over three years, threatening arts, music, athletic, and other programs, and even endangering core teaching positions.
And, amidst the beauty and bounty of West Marin, there are other realities that are harder to detect:
- Financial Hardship: While East Marin County communities such as Larkspur, Tiburon and Ross enjoy median income levels of approximately $54,800 to $64,400, the communities of coastal West Marin have a median income of approximately $32,360. 8.5% of the area’s households are below the federal poverty level. Over 50% of students qualify for free or subsidized lunches.
- No Local Government: While the eleven unincorporated communities of coastal West Marin share many of the same issues and concerns, there is no regional government to bring them together — or the organizations that serve them — to discuss their common challenges or plan for the region’s future.
- Service Gaps: Because there is no local government to provide community services, the region depends on its 60+ nonprofit organizations to provide needed community services, whether in health, education, housing, or transport for its rural population.
- Visitor Impact: With more than two million visitors a year to West Marin, a range of issues must be handled by the villages and small towns of this coastal area, including road safety, water and sewage. The availability of housing – particularly affordable housing – is a critical issue affecting the cohesion of communities that requires significant resources to provide solutions.
The West Marin Fund was created in 2010 to address these interconnected issues. It raises funds to benefit coastal West Marin communities through grantmaking and bringing communities together for the common good of the region. Because the Fund focuses on West Marin as a whole, it has a broader perspective than any individual nonprofit. Donors who love West Marin and want to support its way of life can make their contribution to the West Marin Fund, our coastal community foundation, with the assurance that their donation will go where it has greatest impact.