SAN ARDO — San Ardo residents need a place to learn, connect and gather, and that dream is getting one step closer to reality at the Scout House, thanks to a grant from Aera Energy to the nonprofit Central Coast Rural Communities Foundation (CCRCF).
Aera, a long-time leader in the energy industry accounting for nearly 25% of the state’s oil production, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and its employees are sharing their excitement by providing much-needed resources to the communities where they live and work, including San Ardo in South Monterey County.
As part of the anniversary celebration, Aera’s employee resource groups (ERGs) are selecting 10 nonprofit organizations to receive a $10,000 grant to support programs aligned with Aera’s values and those of the ERG.
The Aera Latino Employee Network (ALEN) selected CCRCF, which bridges gaps in access to educational resources and infrastructure improvements in rural communities.
“So many of the families in the San Ardo community only speak Spanish and are working hard every day to provide their families with the most basic needs,” said Tommy Vega, Aera reliability specialist and co-chair of ALEN. “When we heard about the CCRCF’s desire to make the Scout House that space for learning, community and empowerment for San Ardo residents, we had to get behind the project.”
CCRCF plans to create a community hub for educational and after-school programming, a broadband access point and meeting space in the home that a private family donated to CCRCF in 2020. The Scout House was used as a meeting place by the Boy Scouts in San Ardo and other likeminded organizations, but it desperately needed a renovation.
“We intend to build on the Scout House’s legacy by adding new educational opportunities for youth, creating a community gathering space for all, a new office space for our Foundation, and offering broadband connection for San Ardo residents without that resource,” said Amanda McLoughlin, president of the Central Coast Rural Communities Foundation. “When we approached Aera Energy about our plans, they immediately understood what this community center will mean for this town. To have a community resource available for all will mean the world to San Ardo’s residents.”
The donation will serve as seed money to kick off CCRCF’s search for matching grants and bring in additional corporate and private giving, according to the foundation. It plans to break ground on the project in early 2023 with the hope of offering programs in late 2023, as part of an overall strategy to bolster education for rural residents.
The project will cost an estimated $200,000.
“We can’t wait to see this become a reality for San Ardo residents,” Vega said. “ALEN members look forward to the groundbreaking of this facility and plan to return to volunteer our time and connect with local families.”