The Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and Jewish Federations of North America are partnering to respond to increasing and alarming rates of stress, anxiety and depression in teens and young adults. Nearly 1,000 Jewish professionals, caregivers and parents who interact with and care about young people in the Jewish community can participate in training as Youth Mental Health First Aiders, a virtual certification course administered by the National Council of Behavioral Health. The course for a limited number of people is offered at no cost thanks to the generous support of the Aviv Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Jim Joseph Foundation through JCRIF and Crown Family Philanthropies. Read more here.
JCRIF’s zero-interest loan program is continuing to work in close partnership with national umbrella organizations (such as FJC, JCCA, Prizmah, Hillel, and others), as well as with independent national organizations, to provide loans to Jewish institutions throughout the country.
Currently, approximately $20 million dollars have been approved in loans and are in the closing process and an additional $20 million are in various stages of a review process with our partner the Nonprofit Finance Fund.
We look forward to sharing more information in the weeks ahead.
The Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund Aligned Grant Program funders are proud to be able to support critical and groundbreaking work in American Jewish communities and communal institutions that focus on Jewish education, engagement, and leadership.
As the crisis continues in most sectors of Jewish communal life, with spiritual, economic, social, emotional, and many more types of outcomes, these organizations are operating on multiple fronts: trying to keep their organizations solvent and operational in a time of profound financial instability, adapting to the multiple challenges of lockdown and reopening, and, in many ways, reinventing their programs and modalities to adjust not only to current realities but also to build for the future.
JCRIF grants address the crisis wrought by the pandemic in two key ways:
1) They provide emergency funding to populations and institutions directly affected by the crisis, enabling organizations to continue to operate and individuals and families to continue to engage with Jewish life, despite new challenges;
2) They support organizational and programmatic innovations that enable organizations to take advantage of new opportunities and reshape their organizations and approaches for the future.
Each foundation in the Aligned Grant Program makes its own funding decisions about the proposals that come through the program. The organizations that follow have received funding through the Grant Program from one or more of the JCRIF Aligned Grant partners. All would welcome additional funding for their general operations and/or for specific projects.
● 70 Faces Media is responding to the demand for online Jewish educational opportunities by launching an ambitious online Jewish education platform and clearinghouse for curated content on Jewish culture and learning. The hub will be a “one stop shop” for content created by partner institutions such as online classes, lectures, prayer experiences, study groups, and more. It will contain a searchable library of past offerings, and will highlight relevant cultural content, including film, television, podcasts, and books, from a wide variety of media. 70 Faces will also offer a comprehensive set of field-building services that will benefit content partners, including marketing, market research, and development of best practices for online Jewish education.
● Bringing Israel Home will whet people’s appetites virtually for travel to Israel through food. With the inability to reliably take people to Israel due to the pandemic, Michael Solomonov, the 5-time James Beard Foundation award winning chef and champion for Israel, will bridge the gap by bringing Israel’s extraordinarily diverse and vibrant culinary landscape into people’s homes via weekly cooking classes and interactive discussions with Israeli chefs, celebrities and other dignitaries as guests. The virtual event platform will allow for viewers to ask questions or Chef Solomonov, and all recipes and shows will be archived for future viewing and downloads.
● Center for Rabbinic Innovation (formerly Yavneh Bet) is responding to the need for new approaches to spirituality, religious leadership, and ritual engagement by training thousands of clergy members of all Jewish backgrounds - “spiritual first responders” - in the principles and techniques of entrepreneurship, change management, and innovation. The grant supports the Rabbinic (re)Design Lab, which will empower clergy to imagine and pilot new approaches to engaging their communities during the High Holidays.
● Darim Online is facilitating conversations between the several JCRIF grantees and other key organizations that are focusing on reimagining the High Holidays, understanding this to be a rare and precious moment to explore a number of key questions that Jewish communities were facing even before the pandemic. Today’s constraints offer a once-in-a-generation chance to design and collaborate in new ways for the short- and long-term.
● The Educational Alliance, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, and the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood are facilitating a collaboration of 19 New York City-based Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) to implement a virtual summer camp in 2020. This new venture offers diverse high-quality programming infused with Jewish values for hundreds of rising K-6th graders facing a sudden gap in summer plans. For the first time, almost the entire community of New York JCCs will collaborate to provide a substitute to in-person summer camps in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, with smaller JCCs across the city leveraging the considerable programmatic resources of the larger institutions. The camp utilizes a hybrid model that provides activities open to campers no matter which camp they are attending, and camp-specific activities enabling JCCs to maintain individual camp communities and brands.
● Foundation for Jewish Camp estimates the full-year impact of the pandemic on nonprofit overnight Jewish summer camps to be over $150 million. Initially, JCRIF has provided emergency grants for core operating support for several camps across the United States, with a special focus on those that serve as year-round retreat centers and rental venues for Jewish organizations of all kinds, which had lost significant pre-summer revenue and profits from cancelled events.
● The Hadar Institute, a leader in the field of Jewish education and community building, has seen unprecedented demand for its classes and program offerings since pivoting fully to online in March. In the space of two months online, Hadar reached as many people as it typically does in 8 months of worldwide on-site teaching - and close to 40% of those users were new to Hadar. JCRIF’s grant will support two areas of Hadar’s growing online work, not only expanding its audiences, but also using them as an opportunity to experiment with building community online (not just content). The grant will expand the work of Hadar’s Project Zug, an online havruta (paired) learning platform that has already connected thousands of Jews in one-on-one content-based conversations through more than 30 courses from master educators. The grant will also support Hadar’s newest networking programs for children and their families: classes and podcasts in Torah, Mishnah and Talmud for children ages 5-18.
● Hillel International is pivoting to ensure that Hillels continue to meet the needs of Jewish students, even if they cannot physically be on campus or if their "campus" experience looks very different than it had in the past. The new Hillel@Home digital engagement platform has reached more than 75,000 people since March; additional investment will engage even more students, will complement Hillel’s on-campus presence, and will reach students on campuses without professionally-staffed Hillels. Hillel is also launching “Hillel Higher Holidays,” which will redesign High Holiday experiences across all local Hillels, enabling them to leverage the creation of high-quality movement-wide programs while focusing specifically on community-building and intimate events for their own communities. Offerings will include large scale virtual gathering, personal moments of reflection, artistic offerings, and programs drawn from the entire Hillel system. Finally, in a realization that the pandemic will accelerate existing trends toward greater enrollment of Jewish students in commuter (rather than residential) community-based schools, Hillel is also piloting new methods of reaching students who attend these commuter schools, including through neighborhood-based approaches.
● The iCenter is responding to increased demand from Jewish educators and engagement professionals for training and support in experiential Israel education, especially during this moment when actual Israel trips are on pause. These educators understand Israel as integral to Jewish identities, want to bring Israel into their work, and are committed to having the knowledge and skills to do so. In partnership with dozens of organizations serving teens and young adults, and in collaboration with academics in the field of Israel studies, The iCenter is launching a Certificate Program in Experiential Israel Education, combining the study of contemporary Israel with the practice of experiential Jewish education. In the program's first year, The iCenter will run seven cohorts, engaging a total of 240 Jewish educators and select student leaders.
● Institute for Jewish Spirituality is responding to new needs from both individuals (of all ages) and institutions (of all kinds) for ways to address grief and loss, breakdowns of society, and anxiety and fear by cultivating Jewish spirituality and mindfulness. Since the pandemic began, demand has skyrocketed for IJS programs like online Jewish mindfulness meditation, Jewish yoga, weekly contemplative Torah study, and more. IJS will be creating additional resources for individuals and piloting a new partnership with JCC Association to scale its work into multiple areas of Jewish communal life.
● The Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative, the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and Jewish Federations of North America are partnering to respond to increasing and alarming rates of stress, anxiety and depression in teens and young adults. More than 900 individuals who interact with and care about young people in the Jewish community will be trained as Youth Mental Health First Aiders, a certification course administered by the National Council of Behavioral Health. Those trained will develop skills to encourage self-help, contribute to reducing stigma, and obtain the language and skills to distinguish typical behavior from areas of concern in need of expert help. Complementary workshops will teach how to apply this new skillset in the context of Jewish community, and equip them to access local clinical help if needed.
● JCC Association of North America works with 173 JCCs (Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps) to strengthen Jewish life across North America. As a result of the pandemic, JCC Association anticipates a $1 billion economic impact across its network in the coming year. Several JCRIF funders are supporting JCC Association’s general operating expenses as it works to address the profound needs across the JCC Movement, especially since it voluntarily suspended dues paid by member JCCs, a key source of its own revenue, at the start of the pandemic.
● JCRIF Gap Year in Israel Stimulus Fund addresses the increased interest in gap year (between high school and college) programs in Israel emerging from the uncertainty about in-person university offerings in the United States, the limitations on most international travel for Americans, and a change in many families’ financial situations. The stimulus fund supports the increased and unusual needs of gap year programs in Israel and incentivizes greater participation in gap year experiences via scholarship dollars.
● JCRIF Stimulus Funding for Local Jewish Journalism addresses the major financial needs of local, nonprofit, independent Jewish news publications, providing grants to enable local Jewish publications to continue providing a vital sense of communal connection to readers during a profoundly challenging time. While the problems facing Jewish media outlets existed before the pandemic, they have been exacerbated and hastened in its wake, with some papers facing potential collapse entirely.
● The Jewish Education Project is creating DigitalJLearning 2.0, a streamlined digital portal to aggregate and curate the best resources for Jewish educators. The platform is an urgent response to leverage technology to transform the trajectory of online Jewish learning and also provide an ongoing critical resource for educators. The portal will be ready for Fall 2020 and will meet the needs of educators for curated content and resources, ongoing professional development, and soon a mechanism to hold convenings and gatherings for Jewish educators.
● Jewish Emergent Network (JEN) & REBOOT responded to the closure of synagogues and in-person ritual experiences by partnering to offer collaborative, accessible, text-driven, well-produced content from spiritual leaders of the 7 JEN communities for REBOOT’s digital DAWN festival on Shavuot, as a pilot for similar collaboration for the High Holidays and adult learning. The pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to reach audiences far outside of these innovative communities’ usual geographical boundaries.
● Jewish Food Society will be able to reach many more people with its inspirational and educational content by launching a new podcast highlighting Jewish food, culture and storytelling at a time when the need to connect is greater than ever. The podcast will leverage the success of “Schmaltzy,” Jewish Food Society's live storytelling event by featuring stories told by world-class storytellers about the multicultural aspects of Jewish life, evoking a reappreciation for the diversity of Jewish tradition and culture, and inspiring Jewish learning for people of all ages and backgrounds. The podcast will launch just before the High Holidays, offering connection at a time when many people will be deeply missing holiday services and in-person connections to family and community.
● Jews of Color Initiative, an umbrella organization and field builder supporting Jews of Color, multi-racial families, and the emerging ecosystem of organizations and initiatives that focus on issues of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Justice, is providing core operating support to Jews of Color-led and -focused organizations to sustain their work during the pandemic. The health and economic impacts of the pandemic have disproportionately affected communities of color, and by extension, Jews of Color.
● Jewish Service Alliance, powered by Repair the World, is a new and growing partnership of over 30 local and national organizations, including several Federations, who came together to launch “Serve the Moment” to engage Jewish young adults and college students in 100,000 acts of meaningful service and learning addressing the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. The initiative will galvanize the Jewish community to serve, support the resiliency of Jewish communal life through the pandemic, and ensure that American Jews look back on this unprecedented chapter in our history with pride in our service to our country.
● M2: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education launched the pilot of the "Days of Gratitude" program in May to help foster resilience through the Jewish value of modeh ani: starting the day with daily gratitude. People across the globe learned, explored and embraced all for which they are grateful, ultimately increasing hope and resilience during a complex and challenging time. M2 is building on the success of this initiative by creating new materials connected to Rosh Chodesh - the first day of each new Jewish month and before holidays; and by creating another community-wide, week-long Days of Gratitude experience in May 2021. In Fall 2020, JCRIF funders made a second grant to M2 to support a new intensive Certificate Program in Virtual Experiential Education, helping educators craft engaging learning experiences through the proficient use of virtual learning pedagogies, methodologies and techniques.
● Moishe House is responding to the increased financial needs of the young adults who reside in Moishe Houses around the world by offering emergency financial assistance grants to residents who have lost their jobs or experienced other financial hardships due to the pandemic.
● Moving Traditions fosters the wellbeing and resilience of Jewish youth, who are experiencing waves of loss, grief, and stress in the pandemic. It is responding to the crisis through meeting the growing demand of Jewish communal partners—synagogues, JCCs, camps, and others—seeking to provide connection and value to families and youth through b’nai mitzvah preparation, in family education programs, and teen programs. Moving Traditions is webifying both its program curricula and training for clergy and Jewish educators, providing one-to-one coaching, and continuing to create responsive curricula as new issues emerge. As a result, the Jewish community will be able to create meaning and connection for many more Jewish youth, both online and in person, as the pandemic evolves.
● OneTable is responding to the need for tools and resources to support home-hosted High Holiday programming by creating a high-quality digital platform that will provide organizations and communities with new ways to share programs, engage the Jewish community, and enable people of all ages to access, share, and create Jewish content. Following the wisdom of the Jewish calendar, the new platform, which will be powered by OneTable, will run from Elul through Tishrei and will provide individuals with new ways to embrace the themes and rituals of the holidays with their friends, families, and networks.
● The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies believes in the transformative and life-affirming power of Jewish text study in a vibrant and diverse community, all the more so during uncertain times. Pardes is responding to the disrupted paths and reduced financial resources among Jewish young adults by offering greatly reduced tuition and generous living stipends to enable recent college graduates, future Jewish leaders and laid-off Jewish professionals to attend its outstanding Jewish learning programs in Jerusalem this year, fostering personal and professional growth.
● Pearlstone Center, outside of Baltimore, pivoted immediately in order to utilize its 10-acre certified organic farm and commercial kitchen in order to harvest, prepare, and deliver meals to partner organizations working with frontline workers, Baltimore City schoolchildren, low-income Jewish seniors, Holocaust survivors, and more. Pearlstone is also putting its overnight accommodations to use helping people in need, and it is creating compelling Jewish educational programs, both on-site and virtually.
● Prizmah, the North American network of Jewish day schools, is responding to the increase in need for financial assistance across the country by providing tuition assistance to families in need. Grants will be used specifically to help families with increased financial needs to keep their children in Jewish day schools, including families where one or more parents are Jewish communal professionals who have lost their jobs.
● The Rabbinical Assembly recognized from the start of the pandemic that clergy were playing unique roles that were greatly taxing their mental health as they struggled to balance increased pastoral and family responsibilities, the need to guide revolutionary change in the programming and operations of their institutions, and their ongoing responsibilities for counseling and life-cycle support. Some clergy were also facing burdens of unemployment, underemployment, or reduced salaries. In response, The Rabbinical Assembly joined with the rabbinical and cantoral organizations of other North American Jewish denominations to support hundreds of clergy members in receiving direct mental health and support, along with an extensive variety of programs supporting self-care, wellness, and renewal.
● Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network, an initiative of Mayyim Hayyim, is a network of 33 community mikvehs around the world. Community mikvehs are a relatively recent development in the United States, a response to the desire to open the doors of the mikveh to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible. These mikvehs lack the cash reserves and endowments that would be necessary to sustain their future with confidence in this crisis, while the hunger for spiritual healing and meaningful, relevant ritual experiences among American Jewry is only growing. Of the twenty US-based Rising Tide members that have an existing mikveh, the majority have lost most, if not all, of their earned income, while carrying the expenses of maintaining pools and their physical sites. The grant will enable Rising Tide to boost its capacity to accelerate support to the network, offer grants to the organizations that need them most, and share out programmatic best-practices.
● TAMID Group, a student-founded organization, connects North American undergraduates to Israel through meaningful projects and internships with Israeli entrepreneurs. When the pandemic shut down the 60 US campuses on which TAMID operates in the spring, its chapters showed renewed focus on their work, and nearly all completed their virtual projects and internships with Israeli companies. Given the fact that travel to Israel is not currently possible, TAMID's model of virtual engagement is especially well-suited to the moment, and TAMID is now partnering with Hillel International, the iCenter, and Onward Israel to expand its reach, connecting more students from a wider range of professional interests with Israeli entrepreneurs and providing both a connection to Israel and a means of maintaining professional growth to thousands of North American university students.
● The Tikvah Fund responded to the inability to hold in-person programs and the hunger of Jewish young people for serious learning by creating Tikvah Online Academy. This new venture offered high-level online seminars and town-halls for middle school, high school, and college students, on topics such as Jewish ideas and Western civilization, the history and heroes of Israel, the future of American democracy, the fight against anti-Semitism, and the principles of a free economy and free society.
● UJA-Federation of NY’s COVID Response Day School Reopening Fund offsets startup and ongoing school reopening costs for 47 schools across New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, including addressing ventilation, replacing furniture to comport with social distancing rules, purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks and health screening apps, procuring technology for remote learners and for remote teaching, hiring the additional staff needed to implement all the safety and health regulations, and creating additional offsite space with tents or space rentals.
● UpStart contracted with an outside firm to build its capacity to work with the 150 innovative ventures in its network and the broader Jewish communal ecosystem on issues relating to strategic partnerships and alliances. UpStart supports organizations in exploring and pursuing strategic partnerships, restructuring possibilities available to nonprofits, and provides coaching and grants for needs in this area. UpStart will also be convening a Community of Practice for professionals at national and localshira intermediary organizations who are focused on issues of strategic partnerships and alliances, building shared learning and gathering data on the partnerships, collaborations, and consolidations happening across the field.
● Yeshivat Maharat & Yeshivat Chovevei Torah have partnered to create Mind The Gap: A (Mini) Sabbatical Fellowship for young Jewish communal professionals who have been furloughed or laid off from their jobs. Fellows will be able to stay engaged in the Jewish world through part-time or full-time study organized into (renewable) trimesters with the goals of deepening their knowledge of Jewish text, values, and ideas, and strengthening their leadership skills. Mind the Gap will offer hands-on learning and training designed to engage participants in an accessible way that can have long-lasting impact.
● The Z3 Project, an initiative of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, uses conferences and convenings to promote the ongoing evolution of Zionism, to rejuvenate the conversation about Jewish Peoplehood, and to create a new paradigm in relations between the two centers of world Jewry - Israel and North America. In response to the pandemic, Z3 will be moving its annual conference online and creating a meaningful and engaging weeklong conversation on the most pressing needs of the Jewish world today. Z3 will leverage the power of the JCC movement to reach tens of thousands of people across the continent, creating evergreen content that can be used in a multitude of ways by individuals and institutions alike.
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