The Grant That Kept the Doors Open

Finances for Yes Dance before the fire and flood of late 2017 we’re tight. Afterward, keeping the studio open seemed increasingly impossible. Founder Monica Dabos had been struggling to stay afloat for nearly a year when she learned about a grant that seemed tailored for Yes Dance. In December 2018, Yes Dance was awarded a $10,000 Business Recovery Grant from Women’s Economic Venture (WEV) and Wells Fargo.

Recipients of the Women’s Economic Venture / Wells Fargo Business Recovery grant in December 2018 included Yes Dance. The grant came just in time and renewed the hope of founder Monica Dabos, who’d been struggling to keep the studio doors open since the fire and flood of late 2017.

The grant is part the City of Santa Barbara’s efforts to revamp downtown and help businesses who’d suffered after the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow. Monica learned about it through Nicki Parr of WEV. Parr explained that preferred attributes for grantees included female Latina owners whose organizations aimed to do good in society—check, check, check. Monica, originally from Argentina, started Yes Dance with an idea so simple it’s easy to miss its transformative nature: She wanted to build community, where alcohol-free socializing and dancing was the new norm. Her methods include radical inclusivity and kindness. All are welcome. Community members are celebrated and supported. And over six years, Yes Dance has grown from 2 instructors and 4 dancers to a 2,300+ multigenerational, diverse community who rally around each other. There, countless connections have been formed. A few dancers have even met their life partners—and the Yes Dance! community has welcomed more than one new baby into the mix.

So to say it wasn’t easy for Monica to consider closing the doors is an understatement. But the studio had been forced to close for fifteen days due to air quality. Then after the flooding, Monica (who lived in Summerland at the time) had been able to get to the studio or work for days. Rent and bills were still due.

Parr’s call came just in time. Monica attended WEV’s workshop to apply for the recovery grant two weeks before the application was due. When she learned she was among the recipients (a total of $300,00 was awarded), it was “amazing! It gave me new hope,” she says.

The grant is to be used to promote Yes Dance and generally help the studio recover.

For Monica, just as important as the money is the training that comes along with it. Grant recipients will also receive training about how to make good financial decisions and employ strong resilience and risk management strategies. Monica has already signed up for three training sessions.

On January 26, 2019, Yes Dance will celebrate its sixth anniversary. Monica can’t wait to use this grant and her new financial knowledge to see what the next six years will bring. And she has big plans for growth.

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