The neighborhood of El Verano has a population of nearly 5,000 residents and lies within “the Springs,” an unincorporated area adjacent to the town of Sonoma. Most adult residents labor in the vineyards, ranches, hotels, and restaurants of the Sonoma Valley’s wine and tourist industries. El Verano is an unplanned neighborhood of curling streets that follow a meandering creek. Many houses were originally built as weekend cabins. At the center of the community sits El Verano Elementary School, where 82% of 420 students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, 79% are Latino, and 67% are English Learners. All those figures are the highest in Sonoma.
From 2014 through 2023, Cowell’s investment in El Verano comprised 34 grants totaling $2.6 million. These grants were primarily dedicated to the planning and start-up of a family resource center on the El Verano Elementary campus and toward redevelopment of the school’s literacy programs.