By Yelena Kozlova
In the Bay Area’s cradle of innovation, the newly minted Mishmash Philanthropy Group Impact Grants Initiative (MPG) is working on kindling fresh sparks of community building and connection among Russian immigrants to Jewish culture and tradition. The 13 Mishmash participants, each of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, have committed to identifying promising community entrepreneurs and help get their projects off the ground with financial and strategic support. Though these young professionals hail from a range of sectors including engineering, technology, finance, marketing, and education, they share a common passion – to make philanthropy in the Russian Jewish community central to fostering new social impact initiatives.
While some group members are seasoned volunteers with a successful track record of creating and organizing events in the Russian Jewish community through the Mishmash group and other initiatives, others are excited to apply their start-up and corporate experience in the Jewish philanthropy world for the first time. Everyone is united by the mission of creating sustainable, scalable and innovative projects. Potential recipients of these mini-grants can be an established initiative wanting to expand their reach or a fist-time entrepreneur who wants to take a fresh approach at engaging Russian Jews. Projects can focus on Jewish history, culture, ethics, education, religion, innovative use of technology – as long the goal is to create community connection with a Jewish flair, the subject matter is wide-open.
At the group kick-off meeting last month, the members met to establish guidelines for grant distribution and to learn and be inspired by prior successes in the field. Galina Leytes, who established I-SAEF with her husband Lev came to share her experiences on the path to philanthropic success. She was originally inspired to become a leader in Jewish philanthropy after someone told her how her own immigration, and that of her fellow Russian Jews, was made possible through the generosity of others. Galina advised the group to leverage their own strengths, just as she has done turning her years of experience in technology entrepreneurship into a successful philanthropic fund that focuses on innovation in the alternative energy field.
Grants of up to $5,000 will be made for initiatives carried out between August 2012 and July 2013 . Once initial grants are awarded in August 2012, grantees will get consultative support from MPG to ensure successful completion of the project. Get your creative thinking hats on, review the criteria and dream up those project ideas big and small. Contact the MPG group soon – they can even help you to prepare your proposal by the June 21, 2012 deadline.
“We believe in joint responsibility to build and sustain our community and its connection to Jewish life. If you do too and are ready to lead these efforts - we want to hear from you!” – the Mishmash Philanthropy Group*.
*A project of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund’s Impact Grant Initiative, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.