TEMPLETON — In 2020, after following a rigorous vetting process, Must! Charities reported that they were able to invest over $580,000 into local organizations to address the most critical needs in the communities, even during the pandemic from homelessness to workforce development to youth mentorship to meeting the immediate economic impacts of COVID-19. 

Similar to venture capitalism, Must! Charities utilize a venture philanthropy approach that combines data-driven analysis while harnessing the community’s collective giving potential.

Must! Charities not only finalized projects with El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO), CASA of San Luis Obispo County, and Boys and Girls Club; but also embarked on three new collaborations:

  • COVID Community Response Project
  • Must! Charities Community Kitchen & Workforce Development Center
  • Camino Scholars at Rolling Hills Apartment Complex owned and managed by People’s Self-Help Housing

The Must! Charities team explains that the COVID Community Response Project encompasses more than just financial relief. Through a rigorous screening process, case managers identify families who have been directly impacted by COVID and ensure applicants’ success and well-being in the program with an action plan, wrap-around support, and follow-up case management. In its infancy, the project has already kept over 100 people housed – people who would have otherwise lost their homes.


Last year, $350,000 was invested in the Must! Charities Community Kitchen & Workforce Development Center, a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen at ECHO in Atascadero. The project will provide a much-needed supply of potential employees trained in the culinary & hospitality fields and includes a component for social enterprise, in which job skills can be developed, and the organization will have the ability to create revenue from an end product.

Camino Scholars is a site-based learning program and the first site of its kind in Templeton that supports educational growth and enrichment for low-income families at Rolling Hills Apartments, a People’s Self-Help Housing property. In its first month, the onsite learning center already has 15 resident children paired with mentor-educators. Reports show that math and literacy scores are rising, and parents now have access to resources for their children.

“What we experienced last year was a community coming together, fueled by an intrinsic desire to take care of each other,” says Becky Gray, Executive Director of Must! Charities. “Because our Executive Board pays for all of our operating expenses, 100 percent of what the community donates goes directly into these projects. I think that resonates with people now more than ever.”

Must! Charities use an investment-minded approach to social initiatives. They identify the most critical community needs, vet organizations serving those needs, and then invest in their infrastructure, so they are well-positioned to create positive, measurable change for years to come.

To find out more, visit mustcharities.org or call (805)226.5788.

About Must! Charities:

Since 2012, must! Charities has committed over 2.5 million dollars in North San Luis Obispo County. Must! Charities is Venture Philanthropy. Using an investment-minded approach to social initiatives based on the greatest community needs, must! Charities bring together individuals and businesses in the community who are dedicated to improving quality of life. Must!’s community work adds to the vibrancy of the region by strengthening partnerships and programs through fundraising and advocacy. As a group of collective donors, they continuously empower non-profits to make strategic, sustainable changes that create greater impacts. To learn more or become a partner, visit mustcharities.org or call (805)226.5788.

Must! Charities Contact:
Becky Gray, must! charities, becky@mustcharities.org