Victoria Juarez, Matt Mooney, and their son Matthew. Photo courtesy of Monie Photography.

For Matt Mooney and Victoria Juarez, giving is a natural extension of their passion for their professional work, both having dedicated their lives to education and supporting local youth. The decision to contribute to the SBCC Foundation came easily, and as Visionaries Circle members they understand that their investment directly impacts SBCC students, which ultimately contributes to a stronger Santa Barbara. “It is really important to us to invest in our youth,” said Victoria. “By giving to the foundation, we are making a commitment to the young people in our community.”

Matt is a product of the California community college system, starting his pursuit of higher education by attending Orange Coast College. After two years, he transferred to UCLA, and attended graduate school before becoming an American history professor at Santa Barbara City College. And after ten years, Matt still loves his dream job. “Every year, I continue to learn, and the teaching continues to evolve,” said Matt. “I really appreciate my students and my colleagues, but I also appreciate the freedom the administration gives us to experiment and to pursue what we think good teaching looks like so that we can become better teachers.”

Victoria grew up in Kettleman City in the San Joaquin Valley, a rural agricultural area with approximately 1,500 people. She attended college at Cal State Long Beach, and the education she received absolutely changed her life. Her father was a farm worker, and her mother did not graduate from high school. But, her mother always stressed the importance of education, making clear connections for Victoria and her siblings between education and professional opportunity. Now, when Victoria thinks about education, she thinks about higher wages and economic self-sufficiency especially for women. It seems only natural that she is now the executive director of Girls, Inc. Carpinteria, where she works to empower girls so that they can reach their full potential.

At Girls, Inc., Victoria and her staff respond to the changing needs of girls and their communities through research-based programs and advocacy that inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Programs focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, becoming college-ready, and having a career. While trying to close the achievement gap, Victoria also works on the imagination gap, an idea that was first introduced to her by Laura Capps. This concept illustrates the importance of new experiences for girls so they are exposed to more than just their immediate environment – getting kids out of their comfort zone so that they might imagine themselves in a variety of fulfilling careers as adults. “The work we are doing at Girls, Inc. is critical to our communities, and to our functioning society,” said Victoria. “By contributing educational programming and resources, exposing our girls to new experiences, and new cultures, we are giving kids who have the drive and determination the opportunity to do great things.”

Matt and Victoria are SBCC Foundation Visionaries Circle members, a decision they made because they are passionate about giving locally to organizations that support education. They understand that an investment in the foundation is an investment in Santa Barbara City College and its students. “As a faculty member, I want to support the foundation because I see the impact it has on our students,” said Matt. “When I hear some of my students’ tough personal stories, and how dedicated they are to getting an education, I want to do whatever I can to keep them here, and to keep them succeeding. Giving to the SBCC Foundation is a part of that.”

And no matter what the size of the gift, Matt and Victoria know that their contributions have impact, and that over the course of their lives, continued giving will make a real difference. “When I think about the great work the foundation is doing, and how valuable programs like the SBCC Promise will be to our local students, it is not a difficult decision to give,” said Victoria. “It is really important for us to support our youth. The Visionaries Circle gives us an avenue to make that investment because the SBCC Foundation is absolutely changing the lives of the young people in our community.”