Charitable Causes

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parade_large_credit Mitch Ridder
The Ability Awareness Project, pictured in the Laguna Beach Patriot’s Day Parade, promotes kindness and inclusivity to combat bullying. | Photo by Mitch Ridder

Local nonprofits are making a big impact in town and beyond.

By Laguna Beach Magazine Staff

 

A wide range of nonprofits are working hard to benefit the community, from helping the homeless to assisting animals, advocating for the arts and preserving our open spaces. And as the year comes to an end, many residents look to make a difference for those in need or support a cause that’s important to them. To encourage this giving spirit, we’ve compiled a roundup of organizations in the Laguna Beach area that could use your donation of money, supplies or volunteer hours. Read on to find a charity that would be grateful for your support this season.

 

Ability Awareness Project Co-founded by Shadi Pourkashef, who goes by Anami—after her son experienced horrible harassment while in school—and Kelly McKinnon Burmingham, the Ability Awareness Project aims to combat bullying while promoting kindness and inclusivity. The organization has developed presentations for students, parents, teachers and older residents who have experienced bullying, too. (kindandsafeschools.org)

American Association of University Women The Laguna Beach chapter of this national organization was founded back in 1967 and has grown to include more than 150 members, all in support of equity for women through education. Local members tutor students, help negotiate fair salaries, award scholarships and help send girls to STEM camps. The group’s AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund supports women facing discrimination at universities or in the workplace. (lagunabeach-ca.aauw.net)

Artists’ Benevolence Fund This fund, under the umbrella of the famed Sawdust Art Festival, provides financial assistance to local working artists going through a sudden illness or other crisis. Started in 1987 as the Artists’ Relief Fund, it was reorganized in 1993 as a nonprofit and expanded to help not only Sawdust exhibitors but any working artist in Laguna. An annual art auction raises money for the fund. (sawdustartfestival.org)

Artists Fund, The Affiliated with Festival of Arts, The Artists Fund offers financial assistance to exhibitors suffering hardships like illness, injury or the effects of natural disasters. Originally founded in 1999, it later separated from the festival. In addition to financial assistance, the group awards enrichment grants to artists looking to further their careers. The fund benefits from the Art-To-Go exhibit sales during the summer fine art show. (theartistsfund-foa.org)

Assistance League of Laguna Beach One of 120 chapters across the country, the Assistance League of Laguna Beach has a huge impact on the community. With funds raised through donations and the downtown thrift shop, the nonprofit organizes more than a dozen efforts, including Operation School Bell – Chapters for Children, which provides students with apparel for school, and the contribution of both funding and volunteer time to help support the Laguna Food Pantry. (assistanceleague.org)

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A Blue Bell Foundation for Cats fundraiser | Photo by Brian Flynn Graphics & Photography

Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, The For more than 30 years, The Blue Bell Foundation for Cats has helped provide shelter and care for senior cats whose owners pass away or can no longer take care of them. The Laguna Canyon property is a sanctuary for the pets that live there. Set amongst fresh greenery and gardens, the cats live cage-free with perches and comfortable beds, high-quality food, screened-in porches, around-the-clock health care and more. (bluebellcats.org)

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach A number of programs are in place to help empower local youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. After-school enrichment is a large part of the nonprofit’s offerings, in addition to programming on leadership, education, health and wellness, fitness and the arts. Donations are sought for the club’s endowment fund. The club’s locations also have Amazon wish lists for everything from watercolor papers and paints to soccer balls and games. (bgclagunabeach.org)

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Photo by Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Catmosphere Laguna Foundation Formerly operating a cat cafe on Forest Avenue, Catmosphere Laguna Foundation continues to rescue and find homes for stray cats and kittens in the area. The nonprofit, established in 2017 by Gail Allyn Landau, holds adoption events at Laguna Beach Animal Shelter and Gelson’s Market. Catmosphere also maintains a fund to offer spay and neuter procedures, testing and emergency treatments for homeless or abandoned cats. (catmospherelaguna.com)

Chhahari Inc. USA Laguna Beach resident Christine Casey started Chhahari Inc. USA in 2007 after she took a trekking trip to Nepal and witnessed sick and hungry children begging in Kathmandu’s streets. Collaborating with a nongovernmental organization in Nepal, they helped children to receive a quality education and health care. The Nepal organization closed during the pandemic, but a new organization, Chhahari Education & Opportunities, is now funded by the U.S. nonprofit. (chhahari.org)

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Coast Film & Music Festival is connected with Coast Film Foundation | Photo by Ashley Barker Photo

Coast Film Foundation Launched last year in connection with the Coast Film & Music Festival, the Coast Film Foundation fosters and promotes an appreciation for film as well as purpose-driven filmmaking that uses storytelling to spur positive change. The foundation is also dedicated to encouraging the next generation of filmmakers via networking opportunities, grants and scholarships. (coastfilmfestival.com)

Community Art Project Designed to spread the word about art appreciation and education, Community Art Project, or CAP, applies donations toward art exhibits, public art pieces and educational programs sponsored by the group. Although its permanent gallery at Wells Fargo has closed, recent showcases have taken place at Neighborhood Congregational Church, City Hall, the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center and Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Senior Center. (caplaguna.org)

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Crystal Cove Conservancy works to preserve Crystal Cove State Park | Photo by J. Christopher Launi/courtesy of Crystal Cove Conservancy

Crystal Cove Conservancy Established in 1999 by Laura Davick—who was a third-generation Crystal Cove resident—to preserve Crystal Cove State Park’s historic district when developers wanted to turn it into a luxury resort, Crystal Cove Conservancy has worked tirelessly since then to protect this natural space, restore the century-old cottages (which are rented for overnight stays to help provide funding) and bring schoolchildren to the park for science-based field trips. (crystalcove.org)

Drake Gives, The When The Drake restaurant opened in town, it was clear that the focus was on the live entertainment just as much as the luxurious cuisine—founder Alec Glasser, ever passionate about music, made sure of that. Glasser also launched The Drake Gives, a nonprofit that partners with the Save the Music Foundation to provide youth with music education in light of budget cuts that have affected the arts in schools across the country. (thedrakelaguna.com/the-drake-gives)

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The Drake Gives’ event | Photo by Frank Salas Photography

FOA Foundation Seeded with a $1.5 million donation from Festival of Arts, the FOA Foundation was established in 1989 and oversees this endowment that provides grants to local arts nonprofits and educational institutions, giving approximately $100,000 per year. Originally, the foundation also awarded scholarships to graduating high school students living in Laguna Beach or attending Laguna Beach High School. In 2007, the festival took over funding the scholarships. (foafoundation.net)

Friends of Hortense Miller Garden Situated on a picturesque slope in north Laguna, feminist and environmentalist Hortense Miller started the eponymous garden of her dreams in the 1950s, donating it to the city of Laguna Beach in 1973. This group was created a few years later to oversee the property, where public and private tours—as well as special events like art workshops and exhibits—are held. (hortensemillergarden.org)

Friends of Laguna Beach Dog Park Dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the Laguna Beach Dog Park, which is owned and operated by the city of Laguna Beach, this nonprofit also focuses on promoting responsible dog ownership and works with the city to make improvements, which have included elements like benches and picnic tables, water fountains, trees for shade and the addition of a small dog area. Meetings and events are also held periodically. (lagunabeachdogpark.com)

Friends of the Laguna Beach Library For more than 50 years, this group has helped make the local library—part of the Orange County library system—what it is by allocating funds for everything from reading programs, college scholarships and magazine subscriptions to scheduling speakers, supplies for craft days and improvements to the library. This institution is also a point on the town’s Poetry Trail and hosts its own poetry contest in the spring. (friendsofthelagunabeachlibrary.org)

Friendship Shelter Through its emergency shelter, permanent housing programs, meals and other services, Friendship Shelter aims to end homelessness in south Orange County. Founded in 1988, the organization started as an all-volunteer effort at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and has grown over the years. Friendship Shelter operates the city’s Alternative Sleeping Location on Laguna Canyon Road in addition to other housing programs. (friendshipshelter.org)

Glennwood Housing Foundation Offering housing and supported living services for adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities since 2013, Glennwood Housing Foundation also provides on-site and off-site activity opportunities based on residents’ interests, from visiting the summer art festivals to volunteering in the community. It also offers experiences at the apartment building for residents to learn new skills and develop social connections. (glennwoodhouse.org)

Growers First This organization helps poor farming families in the world’s remote regions through training in agriculture, economics and more to increase crop yield and improve growing practices, including crop diversification, organic approaches and water conservation methods. Growers First also offers micro-loans for seedlings and supplies, life skills training, support for local schools and vehicles to transport crops and reach schools or medical centers. (growersfirst.org)

Honarkar Foundation for Arts & Culture, The Started by prominent Laguna resident Mohammad Honarkar with his daughters Nikki and Hasty in 2019, this cultural arts nonprofit aims to enhance and inspire creativity in the local community. On Dec. 1, the foundation launched the inaugural exhibit, “Paintings from the 2000s” by Jorg Dubin, in its new 4,200-square-foot gallery space housed in a historic building on Broadway Street; the exhibit runs through Jan. 14, 2024. (thehonarkarfoundation.org)

Impact Giving Based on the idea that greater things can be accomplished together than individually, this women’s collective giving organization pools its partners’ money and knowledge of local and global needs to make a difference by awarding grants to organizations like CASA of Orange County and Be Well OC. In this way, the group aims to support positive and sustainable social change while also building the leadership of its partners. (impactgivingnow.org)

Just Gather Focused on community-inspired wellness events to get children and teens to spend less time on electronic devices, as well as prevent and reduce addictions to alcohol and drugs, Just Gather is a newer organization offering activities such as yoga, meditation, dance, farming, animal therapy, painting and board game gatherings. The nonprofit also hosts half-day nature and art retreats for youth ages 9 to 19 as well as outings, weekly gatherings and more. (justgatherwellness.org)

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Photo by Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Art Museum This institution has been a major player in the region’s art scene for more than 100 years, with exhibits by California artists, panel discussions, film screenings, family-friendly craft and musical performances. It’s also home to the Art & Nature initiative, with commissioned pieces each year and collaboration with art galleries in town. To support programming, purchase a membership or contribute to the 2023 Love Art Love Laguna campaign. (lagunaartmuseum.org)

Laguna Beach Community Clinic Established in 1970 with volunteer physicians to provide medical care to low-income and uninsured OC residents, and known for its groundbreaking work in HIV/AIDS testing and treatment in the 1980s, the Laguna Beach Community Clinic has grown over the years, now providing a full spectrum of low-cost medical and preventative health services for people of all ages. Private health insurance is accepted and sliding fee discounts are offered. (lbclinic.org)

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Photo by Laguna Beach Community Clinic

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center Art, poetry, theater, music, dance and cinema come together at this newer cultural institution, which hosts regular events at its Forest Avenue center. The nonprofit also launched its own broadcast TV channel during the pandemic, followed by a music school with classes in songwriting, vocals, guitar, ukulele, drums and piano in addition to dance lessons by longtime Cirque du Soleil soloist Sandrine Mattei. (lbculturalartscenter.org)

Laguna Beach Firefighters Community Assistance Fund Laguna firefighters operate this fund, which helps locals who have been displaced by a fire or flood—or experience another emergency—with gift cards for essential items that they may not be able to afford. This year, the group also made a donation to help those in Maui after the devastating fire there. But almost all funds stay local. During the holidays, the group often adopts a senior citizen or family in need and purchases gifts and necessary items for them. (lbffa.org)

Laguna Beach Historical Society Ever since plein air painters made Laguna’s landscapes famous in the early 1900s, it has been a haven for famous Hollywood actors to stay, play and sometimes even live. From the annual summer art festivals to special milestones and the notable people who helped to shape this community, the Laguna Beach Historical Society collects and archives the rich local history surrounding the town while also sharing materials to educate others. (lagunabeachhistory.org)

Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club It’s been more than 90 years since the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club was established in Heisler Park, and the group now has a clubhouse, a patio and two bowling greens overlooking Main Beach. Membership is open to anyone and the nonprofit offers everything from introductory lessons, practices, drills and tournaments to special themed bowls and holiday events. (lagunabeachlawnbowlingclub.com)

Laguna Beach Patriot’s Day Parade The long-standing Laguna Beach Patriot’s Day Parade has been gracing downtown streets since 1967, with a different theme every year. A number of Laguna-based organizations participate in the event, which takes place the first Saturday of March, and locals are also recognized with titles such as honored patriot, citizen of the year, artist of the year and more. Though parade expenses were previously covered by ad revenue from the program, the nonprofit is now asking for support from the public. To donate directly, please contact Sandi Werthe at shworthy@cox.net. (facebook.com/lagunabeachparade)

Laguna Beach Police and Community Foundation Created to promote and enhance the local police department, its staff and public safety in town, this foundation focuses on improving equipment and technology, targeted training and community outreach. For the last six years, the organization has also awarded Laguna Beach High School students with the Officer Jon Coutchie Memorial Fund College Scholarship toward college tuition in support of careers in criminal justice. (lbpcf.org)

Laguna Beach Police Foundation Launched by the Laguna Beach Police Employees’ Association, the local police department is also the main focus of the Laguna Beach Police Foundation, with donations going toward specialized equipment, training and development, wellness services, counseling and more. The foundation also raises funds for community events like Hospitality Night and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Southern California. (lagunapolice.com)

Laguna Beach Seniors Started in 1975, Laguna Beach Seniors was one of the first OC nonprofits catering to older adults and now operates the Susi Q Senior Center. Since 2009, the organization has been based at the Susi Q, where a wide variety of programs—from movie screenings to yoga, bingo games, writing workshops, computer assistance and support groups—are presented. Lunch is served at the Susi Q by another organization, Age Well Senior Services. (thesusiq.org)

Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association Best known for the annual Fête de la Musique, this all-volunteer nonprofit was created to maintain relationships with Laguna’s sister cities: St. Ives, England; Menton, France; and San José del Cabo, Mexico. The town is filled with music and dance during the festival, but the group hosts other events, too, including those celebrating our sister cities, trips to their coastal towns and Artist In Residence programs. (lagunabeachsistercities.com)

Laguna Bluebelt Coalition With an emphasis on preserving biological diversity and healthy habitats in local waters, this group has already worked to secure citywide protection for the nearby ocean and the creatures living within it, and participates in outreach programs to inspire others to keep the coastal waters safe and allow marine life to thrive. The coalition also hosts an annual nature photography contest. (lagunabluebelt.org)

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A volunteer trail work day organized by Laguna Canyon Foundation | Photo by Jon Barber

Laguna Canyon Foundation Following the 1989 March to Save Laguna Canyon, the Laguna Canyon Foundation was established to facilitate the acquisition of open space that the Irvine Co. had agreed to sell. The nonprofit partnered with OC Parks and the city of Laguna Beach to ensure these lands would remain public property. The foundation also offers naturalist-led hikes, guided bike rides, habitat restoration workshops and chances to aid in trail repairs as well as advocating for open space and educating students about the importance of these natural areas. (lagunacanyon.org)

Laguna College of Art & Design This nonprofit art college, operating since the 1960s in Laguna Canyon, accepts tax-deductible donations to bolster its scholarship and financial aid programs, recruit and retain the best faculty members and students, provide leading-edge technology and more. Donations can be directed to the annual fund, scholarships or one of the campus’ many departments, from graphic design to painting or illustration. (lcad.edu)

Laguna Food Pantry
Laguna Food Pantry

Laguna Food Pantry Since 1993, the Laguna Food Pantry has been collecting and distributing free groceries to those in need, now providing about 100,000 pounds of provisions to over 1,000 families per week from its Laguna Canyon facility. The organization started as the Laguna Relief and Resource Center to aid those affected by the devastating 1993 fire and the subsequent flood and landslides, providing food, clothing and even furniture; eventually, the nonprofit narrowed its focus to food only. (lagunafoodpantry.org)

Laguna Greenbelt Grassroots group Laguna Greenbelt was started in 1968 by Jim Dilley to protect wildlife habitat in OC, including a “greenbelt” of open space around Laguna. The organization continues to defend this landscape both for the people who enjoy it and the animals that call it home. The nonprofit has written educational brochures, provides mini grants for local teachers to lead field trips and awards scholarships for Laguna high school students involved in environmental activities. (lagunagreenbelt.org)

Laguna Ocean Foundation
Laguna Ocean Foundation

Laguna Ocean Foundation Launched in 2003, Laguna Ocean Foundation expanded a program where docents were placed at local tide pools to educate guests on the wildlife within the water. To this day, they continue to serve as stewards of our coastline, with volunteers spreading the word about local ecosystems to younger generations and the general public. In addition to education, the group is working to “bring the lagoon back to Laguna” with its Aliso Creek Estuary restoration project. (lagunaoceanfoundation.org)

Laguna Playhouse The Playhouse, established as a community theater in 1920, recently marked its centennial and is one of the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating nonprofit theaters (except for a brief pause on in-person shows during the pandemic). The Playhouse often presents premieres of new plays and has featured Hollywood stars like Rita Rudner, French Stewart, Ed Asner and even Harrison Ford. Laguna Playhouse also offers a youth theater program and educational outreach. (lagunaplayhouse.com)

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Photo by Laguna Playhouse

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association Landscape painting is alive and well in Orange County—not only because of how stunning the Laguna scenery is, but also because of the town’s history as an artist colony where plein air painters have flocked since the 1880s. Responsible for the annual painting invitational that takes place throughout Laguna each October, this group also opened an art gallery in the north part of town a couple of years ago. (lpapa.org)

Laguna Real Estate/Charitable Assistance Fund Founded in 2004, this organization raises money to donate to local nonprofits to help support their missions and make the community a better place; leftover funds benefit the nonprofit’s Realtors and affiliate members, offering assistance in times of hardship, whether it’s financial, medical or related to a natural disaster. The group’s two main fundraisers include A Taste for Charity and the Pet Parade and Chili Cook-Off. (lre-caf.com)

Loca Arts Education This coalition of artists, art educators and supporters strives to present art-centric workshops, talks and classes in town in order to keep the spirit of creativity alive. With sessions held everywhere from local schools and the public library to Glenwood House, the Waymakers Youth Shelter and the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Senior Center, all are invited to participate. (locaarts.org)

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MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation | Photo by MacGillivray Freeman Films

MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation  Through the power of Imax films and educational outreach programs, the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation empowers audiences across the globe to be ambassadors for science and the environment. Founded by Laguna residents Greg MacGillivray and his wife, Barbara, in 2004, the nonprofit helps produce the filmmaker’s giant-screen movies that allow the public to develop a better understanding of our world, its cultures and the issues we face. (mffeducation.org)

Masters at Giving Festival of Arts regularly receives requests for complimentary tickets to the famed Pageant of the Masters living pictures show, but isn’t able to fulfill all of them on its own. Through Masters at Giving, philanthropists purchase tax-deductible tickets, which are then distributed to a charitable group in need, allowing first responders, veterans, seniors, at-risk youth, women, art students and others who can’t afford a ticket the chance to experience the arts in Laguna. (foapom.com)

Mauli Ola Foundation Make a splash with the Mauli Ola Foundation, which aims to educate and raise awareness for kids and young adults with genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis. By providing alternative therapies like one-on-one surf sessions that bring together youth and professional instructors, the organization relies on the healing properties of the ocean, exercise and achievement to inspire hope. (mauliola.org)

No Square Theatre Over at the American Legion building downtown, No Square Theatre presents plays, musicals and “Lagunatics” shows, its popular annual roast of life on the coast. No Square, founded in 1997, gives amateur actors, directors and technical staff—including children—an opportunity to take their skills to the stage. The theater also offers Broadway master classes and youth workshops. (nosquare.org)

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Photo by Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Pacific Marine Mammal Center The only establishment of its kind in Orange County, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center has been around for more than 50 years, on a mission to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured pinnipeds dealing with everything from infections and pneumonia to net strangulation and malnourishment with the goal of returning them to the wild. The nonprofit’s Laguna Canyon facility is currently closed to the public while the organization works on renovating the property. (pacificmmc.org)

Pageant Legacy Society Honor a loved one, arts lover or organization by purchasing for them a small piece of history: The Pageant Legacy Society allows patrons to “buy” a seat in the Irvine Bowl, where the Pageant of the Masters is performed each summer, and add a small plaque engraved with the name of the person or business you’re dedicating it to. At least 250 have already been reserved and funds are used to help the nonprofit make the arts more accessible to the community. (foapom.com)

Peace Exchange, The The Peace Exchange, a fair trade shop that operates online and out of the new Laguna Beach Yoga & Fair Trade storefront downtown, partners with nongovernmental organizations to help women in Africa sell handmade goods. Products include African wax print textiles by seamstresses in Congo, snare wire jewelry from Kenya, artisan baskets crafted by hand in Tanzania and more. (thepeaceexchange.com)

Pollinator Protection Fund Started by local author Laura Ford, this reserve was created in 2021 in an effort to rebuild the populations of Western monarch butterflies in Southern California. The Pollinator Protection Fund provides monetary support for butterfly gardens, with the founding garden located in Heisler Park in partnership with the Laguna Beach Garden Club. Another—one of nine overall—has also been planted in Bluebird Park, using native California flowers and shrubs that attract pollinators. (protectmonarchs.com)

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Photo by Project Scientist

Project Scientist Though she stepped aside earlier this year, Laguna Beach resident Sandy Marshall launched Project Scientist in 2011 when she was unable to find a suitable STEM program for her daughter. Deciding to start one herself, the group’s labs, after-school clubs, virtual sessions and immersive experiences are centered around science, technology, engineering and math to empower young women, specifically those in at-risk communities, to work in scientific fields. (projectscientist.org)

Rotary Club of Laguna Beach There are many facets to the work done by the Rotary Club of Laguna Beach, from community service, vocational experiences and grants for local programs to international projects in places like Egypt and Guatemala. Some of the biggest local fundraisers include the Classic Car Show, held at the edge of Laguna Canyon in the fall to benefit regional charities, and the springtime Grapes for Grads event that raises money for student scholarships. (lagunabeachrotary.org)

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Sally’s Fund offers escorted rides to appointments and help with grocery shopping for seniors. | Photo by Johanna Ellis

Sally’s Fund Established in 1982, Sally’s Fund offers door-to-door, assisted transportation, among other essential services, for Laguna Beach seniors and disabled individuals. For doctor’s appointments, Sally’s Fund drivers will walk clients to the door and stay with them. During grocery shopping trips, the driver will push the cart and carry the bags. Sally’s Fund also provides rides to the Susi Q for lunch, classes and events as well as weekly outings, plus home visits to offer companionship for those who are bedridden or homebound. (sallysfund.org)

Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund Aimed at supporting public arts education and providing creative workshops for underserved populations, the Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund was established about a decade ago. Hands-on art-making sessions are offered for at-risk youth and those in the armed forces and their families. The fund has also recently worked with nonprofit American Family Housing to provide art classes for formerly homeless at-risk youth. (sawdustartfestival.org)

SchoolPower Local nonprofit SchoolPower helps fund academic endeavors, but also advocates for improvements to music as well as visual and performing arts, athletics, student support and more at El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools, Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School through its grant program. Donations are accepted and fundraisers take place in town throughout the school year. (lbschoolpower.org)

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A SchoolPower golf competition fundraiser | Photo by Candice Dartez

Seaside Legal Services From landlord-tenant disputes and immigration to wills and trusts, child custody, divorce cases and record expungement, Seaside Legal Services is a nonprofit public interest law firm that has been providing free legal help for those who can’t afford counsel since 2014. The group also partners with local organizations like the Friendship Shelter and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic. The firm doesn’t deal with criminal matters, as the public defender is available for those cases. (seasidelegalservices.org)

South Laguna Civic Association Focused on community leadership since the 1940s, the South Laguna Civic Association has worked to pioneer change in south Laguna since it was an unincorporated part of Orange County. After it was annexed into the city in the 1980s, the nonprofit continued to implement improvements, from beautification projects along Coast Highway to an expansion of Treasure Island Park, the creation of Marine Protected Areas and more. (southlaguna.org)

South Laguna Community Garden Park For many, real estate prices in town are steep—and often don’t include the outdoor space for a garden; however, the South Laguna Community Garden Park fills that gap, offering planters that locals can use to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Supported by both the South Laguna Civic Association and the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, the garden is in the midst of raising money to buy the land the garden is on. (southlagunagarden.org)

Think Laguna First Supporting local business is incredibly important in a city like Laguna Beach, where a good deal of the shops and restaurants are independently owned. Instead of box chains, the town has a unique retail/dining landscape that attracts locals and visitors alike. Think Laguna First is managed by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and helps promote efforts like Small Business Saturday, held each November, which keep funds in Laguna. (thinklagunafirst.com)

Unconditional Senior and special needs dogs are often the hardest to adopt out, but Unconditional is working to change that. Founded by Laguna Beach husband-and-wife team Julian and Amy Mack, the rescue group is currently building an 8,000-square-foot, homelike adoption center in Laguna Canyon. The nonprofit also recently launched Rise Pet Health, an emergency and specialty medicine clinic in Laguna Hills that is open to the public and will treat Unconditional’s animals. (unconditionalrescue.org)

Village Laguna The Laguna Beach coastline remains iconic thanks to Village Laguna, whose members banded together in the 1970s to fight against proposals to construct high-rise buildings; the group was also responsible for helping to create Main Beach Park. Over the years, the nonprofit has continued to preserve the town’s authenticity and local culture. It also hosts the Charm House Tour in the spring. (villagelaguna.org)

Wheels4Life Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Hans Rey and his wife, Carmen, founded Wheels 4 Life to provide bicycles to those in need of transportation in developing countries. Often, these people live in remote areas where the nearest doctor, school or workplace is up to 20 miles away, and public transportation either doesn’t exist or they can’t afford it. Wheels 4 Life works with nonprofits, schools, health clinics and local leaders to find those in need of a bike. (wheels4life.org)

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With My Own Two Hands helps provide access to clean water, sustainable agriculture and education in Africa. | Photo by Luke Grigg of Circle3Productions

With My Own Two Hands Founded by former basketball player Lindsey Pluimer, the With My Own Two Hands foundation helps provide people in Africa with access to clean water, sustainable agriculture and education; the group also focuses on climate mitigation and gender equity. More than 50 communities—and 120,000 individuals—have been affected by WMO2H’s efforts, with various documentaries having been released that showcase the work the group is doing. (withmyown2hands.org)

Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach Marking its centennial last year, the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach has a long history of bringing together women for friendship, community service and education. In addition, its members help support hundreds of local charitable groups through volunteerism and donations. The group helped raise money to build south Laguna’s hospital and the Bluebird Park playground while regularly assisting women and children in need. (wclb.org)

Wyland Foundation Marine wildlife artist Wyland—known for his large-scale whale murals across the globe—established the Wyland Foundation more than 25 years ago to help preserve the world’s waterways. Among this organization’s educational programs is the Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience and a conservation-focused student art contest, while also encouraging waterway cleanups and partnering with mayors nationwide for a friendly competition to see which city can be the most water-wise. (wylandfoundation.org)

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