VCCF Awards $500,000 to Partnership Providing Help to Undocumented Immigrants Recovering from Thomas Fire and Mudslides

Grassroots partnership provides aid for those who don’t qualify for other programs

CAMARILLO, Calif. — With the full effects of the Thomas Fire’s devastation still emerging, the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) has awarded a $500,000 grant to a community-based partnership providing relief and recovery support to undocumented immigrants.

The 805 UndocuFund is a partnership among Mixteco/ Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Central Coast United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), and Future Leaders of America (FLA). These grassroots organizations based in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have a solid reputation, strong track record, and are familiar to and trusted by undocumented and mixed status households, said Vanessa Bechtel, CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation.

To administer the 805 UndocuFund, the McCune Foundation and the Weingart Foundation provided grants for case management and leadership support. The Ventura County Community Foundation is providing fundraising and fund administrative support. The Santa Barbara Foundation and the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation provided additional support for overhead costs.

“Those impacted by the disasters include our neighbors in the immigrant community, including many who work in agriculture and service industries that were hard-hit. Apartments and homes have been damaged and destroyed, jobs have been lost and childcare costs increased during school closures. These hardworking individuals and families have suffered without access to many of the federal and state assistance programs,” said Bechtel.

With this latest grant from VCCF, total funds raised for the 805 UndocuFund reached just over $1.2 million. Now with only $30,000 remaining to be distributed, an additional $500,000 is necessary to assist qualified individuals already on a waiting list. “This effort is critical because unlike other natural disaster victims, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), disaster unemployment benefits or some public safety net programs,” said Maricela Morales, executive director of CAUSE.

“Even when they or their children are eligible for disaster relief services, their lack of immigration status, limited English proficiency, and fear of immigration enforcement prevents them from seeking assistance. Their discomfort or lack of familiarity with law enforcement, county government, and mainstream aid organizations present additional barriers,” said Morales.

In fact, the 805 UndocuFund partnership is seeking volunteers to interview affected families and to help victims fill out eligibility paperwork, process applications and other functions to help more than a thousand affected families waiting for assistance. A volunteer application is online at

An estimated 126,000 undocumented immigrants live and work in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Undocumented immigrants predominantly work in sectors that have been or will be hard hit, including service, hospitality, child and elder care, day labor, and agriculture.  Many have lost wages in the weeks following the Thomas Fire. “As of today, about 75 percent of the families helped through the fund in Ventura County were our community’s agricultural workers,” Bechtel said.

The fund will assist individuals and families who have lost their homes, wages, or employment due to the Thomas Fire. Some of the costs associated with living expenses may include, but are not limited to, temporary housing, home repairs, rent, groceries, childcare expenses due to disaster-related school closure, essential household items, cleanup items, medical and dental expenses, tools and equipment required for work, school supplies, repair of essential vehicles, moving and storage expenses, legal document replacement, and funeral and burial expenses. The 805 UndocuFund will also help affected families access other community resources that provide some economic relief.


CAUSE is a nonprofit community organization that works to advance social, economic and environmental justice for the people of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties through policy research, leadership development, organizing and advocacy.

About VCCF

Since the December 4 start of the Thomas Fire, VCCF has secured more than $2.8 million in contributions for support of relief and recovery efforts and has made grants totaling $2.15 million to nonprofit organizations engaged in front-line relief efforts. Currently, VCCF holds approximately $600,000 dedicated for mid- to long-term relief strategies in its Community Disaster Fund.

VCCF invests the charitable capital that drives the philanthropic engines of Ventura County. The foundation was established in 1987 and endeavors to build philanthropy in the region and to give generously for the well-being of all in Ventura County. VCCF invests in the future through scholarships, grant making and collaborative partnerships. For more information or to donate, visit 

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