Earlier this month we announced three new Marin-based grants to outstanding organizations through our Marin Impact Grants Initiative designed to connect Marin families to Jewish life. The Federation’s trailblazing Impact Grants Initiative (IGI) program employs a high engagement and empowerment approach to grant-making modeled on social venture philanthropy. The IGI program provides donor-participants with a hands-on way to make a real difference in their community by making high impact grants that focus on pressing community needs. Read more
Posts tagged ‘IGI’
The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund requests proposals for its new Young Funders Impact Grants Initiative (IGI) focused on innovative ideas and initiatives for engaging adults in their twenties in Jewish life. Read more
The following is a keynote speech delivered by Federation CEO Jennifer Gorovitz at the Israel Venture Network Conference, on November 18, 2013, at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The remarks are included here as prepared.
Shalom everyone. I want to thank Eric Benamou and the Israel Venture Network for inviting me to speak with you here today. I’m Jennifer Gorovitz, and I’m the CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. I’m delighted to join so many great thinkers and leaders in the world of philanthropy, business, and social activism. Thank you, Eric, for your tremendous leadership in the growing sector of social venture philanthropy; and, thank you, Dr. Hartigan, for your enlightening perspective. Read more
Slingshot, A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation, is an annual compilation of the most inspiring and innovative organizations, projects, and programs in the North American Jewish community today. First published in 2005, Slingshot continues to highlight those organizations in Jewish life with particular resonance among the next generation. Since its inception, Slingshot has highlighted 191 innovative Jewish organizations in North America. Read more
Two years ago, the Jewish Community Federation (JCF) launched an ambitious pilot to revolutionize its grant making efforts. Known as the Impact Grants Initiative (IGI), this new model adopted a venture philanthropy approach that offered high engagement opportunities for previously unaffiliated local donors and lay leaders while identifying high performing nonprofits that can make significant impact on local Jewish communities. Read more
Each year we honor a recipient of the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Young Leadership. Recipients are consistent leaders in our Federation volunteer community, have great potential for future leadership, and are 40 years old or younger. Please join us in congratulating this year’s recipient, Brett Goldstein. Read more
The Impact Grants Initiative (IGI) is an engaged, empowered, and effective approach to grantmaking. In 2011, the Federation’s Board launched the IGI as a way to provide donor-participants with a “hands-on” way to make a real difference in our community by making high impact grants that focus on a pressing community need. Through the IGI approach we have provided innovative Jewish programs within traditional organizations or new nonprofits with multi-year funding to succeed, and capacity building support to thrive. And ultimately, the grants awarded as a result of this new model help build a more vibrant, connected and enduring Jewish Community.
Deborah Pinsky is the Executive Director of the Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC). The PJCC was awarded a grant from JCF’s inaugural North Peninsula Regional Impact Committee, for a project that will be executed in partnership with Kevah, an organization dedicated to fostering Jewish identity and community through the study of classical Jewish texts. The two organizations, one an established institution, the other a younger “Up-starter,” are joining together to address a community-wide challenge – engaging North Peninsula families with young children and teens in Jewish life. Collaborative partnerships like these are just one example of the many benefits of the IGI approach.
Following is a conversation between Sara Bamberger, ED of Kevah, and Deborah Pinsky, ED of PJCC, on their IGI experience and their emerging fruitful partnership.
How is the JCF IGI process different from other grant application processes that you’ve been involved with?
Deborah Pinsky, PJCC: It’s rare that a large, local, deeply committed group of community leaders is involved “soup to nuts” in a grant process – from conception and framing of the RFP, to reviewing and evaluating the requests, to interviewing applicants and making grant decisions. One result, for us, was the committee urging us to put our heads together with Kevah, which had submitted a funding request with overlapping themes, ideas and methods. The resulting conversations turned into a joint proposal for Do Justice: Fighting Hunger; a project we expect to transform Jewish engagement and leadership development on the North Peninsula.
Sara Bamberger, Kevah: While this is the first IGI grant we’ve received in partnership with another organization, this actually isn’t our first IGI grant — Kevah has been fortunate to receive IGI grants from other JCF IGI grantmaking groups. One of the things that makes the IGI grant process unique is the liaison piece. Each grantee is assigned one or two committee members as ongoing liaisons during the life of the grant. This means that the relationship between the funder, JCF, and the grantee, is deeper than simply the funder sending a check, and the grantee sending an end-of-year report. Rather, the liaisons are in touch with us throughout the year, to help us identify and address any challenges along the way, and ultimately ensuring the best outcomes for the project. This is ideal for the organization implementing the program, and for the funder, which hopes to maximize outcomes.
How was the grant application process helpful to your organization?
Deborah Pinsky, PJCC: The process not only resulted in suggesting a possible collaboration, but gave us enough time to work with Kevah to conceptualize the new partnership and our joint proposal. We were strongly encouraged to be innovative and to think out-of-the-box, which is exactly what we did. The grant also commits funds to an expert-led process that will help us develop, measure and evaluate project outcomes in conjunctions with other IGI grantees in the South Peninsula. We’re looking forward to that. Finally, it’s exciting and unusual for applicants to be encouraged to request multi-year grants. In today’s environment, longer-term funding commitments are more crucial than ever for long-range success, especially for a project like ours that creates a partnership between organizations with very distinct profiles and cultures.
What was it like working with the IGI committee through the application and interview process?
Deborah Pinsky, PJCC: It was great. Both the staff and committee members were highly committed to a give and take process that could best lead to the outcomes they sought. One outcome, of course, was the PJCC-Kevah collaboration that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The caliber of the committee members also led to a very thoughtful RFP and the knowledge that we had to come well-prepared for our “final interview”.
What does this grant enable your organization(s) to do that you couldn’t before?
Deborah Pinsky, PJCC: The Do Justice: Fighting Hunger project launches a robust multi-year effort combining so many great things — organic gardening; learning about and feeding the hungry; engaging in meaningful, interactive, family-focused Jewish learning about social justice and Tikkun Olam; giving families incredible hands-on experiences with Urban Adamah and Wilderness Torah; identifying and training new Jewish leaders; and enabling Kevah learning groups to become embedded for the long-term on the North Peninsula, with an on-site presence at the PJCC. It’s simply going to be transformational for our community.
Sara Bamberger, Kevah: For Kevah, this grant offers a unique opportunity to enter a new market in an innovative way. Also, we’ve never partnered with a JCC before, and we are thrilled at having the opportunity to use Kevah as a platform for the PJCC to deepen its ability to provide quality Jewish content, as well as a way to create ongoing programming that takes place outside the JCC’s walls.
In late July, seventy people gathered at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. It was mid-day, mid-week, in mid-summer but the room was buzzing with energy. The crowd was eager to commence a community conversation on how to engage more families in Jewish Life on the South Peninsula.
The event was part of the South Peninsula Regional Impact Committee’s grantmaking process. The Committee is one of JCF’s new regional grantmaking bodies employing innovative, high-impact grantmaking methods, aiming to achieve measurable impact and positive change in the local Jewish community.
Committee members, a group of 16 people from a variety of ages, backgrounds and denominations, had come together over the prior months to narrow options for which community challenge to focus this year’s grant round. This year’s issue for the South Peninsula — “engaging families”– reflects a growing concern. Each generation of Jews (with the exception of the Orthodox) is less and less engaged in their Jewish heritage and culture, and therefore less connected to one other and our Jewish community. At the same time, many in the South Peninsula are looking for connection and relationships with like-minded people who share an interest in participating in Jewish life.
Who better to ask than the residents themselves?
The Committee invited the community and potential grantees to share in dialogue. The goal: for community members, the committee and those working on grant proposals to be in same room, associating with one another and gaining a deeper understanding of some of our local community challenges. What works? What is broken? What are some compelling solutions?
Each of nine small table groups sat immersed in deep discussion. People were chatting with strangers from various areas of the Jewish community, having conversations and finding common ground with people who don’t intersect in their daily lives.
“The event was conceived of to enrich the proposal development process. What we didn’t anticipate was how the conversation itself would be a meaningful connection for so many of us who were there.” ~ Adina Danzig Epelman, Program Officer, Regional Grantmaking
At the close of the session, participants were asked to share one word that described what they were thinking or feeling.
Connection. Hopeful. Possibility. Relationship. Empowered. Collaboration. Pride and Joy.
These were just some of the responses. These words, and the significant attendance confirms that we are headed in the right direction. Local Jews are hungry to connect and eager to share ideas.
This first South Peninsula Impact Grant Initiative (IGI) round will grant $500,000 over the coming three years. And we hope the next grant round will motivate even more conversation and collaboration. There is much to do. And it’s reassuring to know that there are so many of us out there who are interested and willing to add their voice.
The Impact Grants Initiative (IGI) employs a high engagement and empowerment approach to grantmaking modeled on social venture philanthropy. We launched the IGI last year as a way to provide donor-participants with a “hands-on” way to make a real difference in our community by making high impact grants that focus on a pressing community need. Through the IGI approach we have provided innovative Jewish programs within traditional organizations or new nonprofits with the multi-year funding needed to be successful, as well as the type of nonfinancial support that helps them thrive. And ultimately, the grants awarded as a result of this new model help build a more vibrant, connected and enduring Jewish community. In fact, the IGI approach has proved so successful that we have launched another grant round for engaging young adults, another to engage our young Russian community, and incorporated it into our current Regional Impact effort in the South and North Peninsula, and will soon launch one focused on Israel. We spoke with Lois Wander, a participant from the first grant round to get her feedback on her experience:
How has being part of the first IGI grant round changed how you approach philanthropy?
“I really appreciate the new approach to treat the grantees as ‘investments,’ a la the venture capitalist model. It allowed us to select grantees that were innovative and new, yet with a solid business plan to help mitigate risk. A large focus of our criteria was to support organizations that were scalable and serving a current need. I think we achieved that with our grantees.”
How have you been involved with the grantee since they received the grant? What has that experience been like for you?
“Yes, I along with Brett Goldstein serve as the liaisons for G-dCast, led by Sarah Lefton. Sarah is a real dynamic leader, with tons of enthusiasm and skills. We’ve met with her several times the past year to hear her progress, provide suggestions and resources. We’re excited to follow her progress.”
Do you think the IGI is a good approach for a more hands-on approach to grantmaking?
“Absolutely! I really enjoyed the process of designing the application and goals and assessing the applications. I always appreciate hearing other people’s opinions and the lively discussion that inevitably ensues when strong minded, passionate people come together. “
What about as a way to involve young adults with the Federation?
“I think it’s a great way to get young adults involved with the Federation. You learn a lot about philanthropy, including new approaches, and get to know some great people in the process.”
Year-one reveals promising results
The Impact Grants Initiative committee met to review the seven grantees’ progress to date and their second year plans. On the whole, the grantees have made tremendous strides in building their own capacity to engage more people in the Jewish community. For example, Kevah expanded its services from 250 to 420 participants, the Idelsohn Society engaged 25,000 visitors through its Tikva pop-up store, and the Russian Moishe House has attracted 745 participants through nearly 50 programs. Other organizations took a little longer to launch, but they expect to make great progress in their efforts by the end of 2012.
IGI reflects the Federation’s move towards more results-oriented grantmaking and better positions the organization to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future. This effort is funded by a $1,000,000 allocation from the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, which will be distributed over a three-year period.
Sarah Lefton has held some impressive titles – tech media producer, journalist, and entrepreneur are just a few. She was also named as one of the Forward 50 most influential Jews of 2009.
I heard a story from a friend that made me reply ‘Who knew that’s Jewish?’ said Sarah, “and that made me realize I could teach people things and start an interest in a learning adventure.”
That’s why since 2008, she and her crew of editors, animators, educators, and 55 diverse guest writers and narrators from across the globe have been working feverishly to restore credibility to the phrase The People of the Book. “Animation allows you to have fun because it’s playful,” she says.
Sarah’s goal is to raise basic Jewish literacy by introducing the building blocks that make Jewish life accessible. Her work has impacted everyone from kids to teachers, from secular to Hassidic, sometimes even people she wouldn’t expect to hear from.
To date, G-dcast has created 62 short films – all available for free on their website – based on Jewish texts that have been viewed nearly a million times on the web, social media networks and mobile devices. Their companion curricula are in use by over 3000 educators at institutions across the Jewish spectrum and around the world.