Jewish Social Change Groups Awarded Nearly $500,000 in Grants Through Jewish Funders Network Matching Fund Program

Seven foundations match pledges from JFN Members to pursue human rights, sustainable agriculture, and economic and social justice projects.

NEW YORK, January 8, 2014 – Jewish organizations that fight human trafficking, promote environmental sustainability, and train community organizers are among those to receive more than $490,000 in grants from a matching fund supported by seven foundations in partnership with the Jewish Funders Network.

The $1 million Jewish Social Change Matching Fund was designed to increase philanthropic investment in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Jewish community.

“This program is exemplary of JFN’s Matching Grants Initiatives’ power to ‘enlarge the pie’ of Jewish philanthropy and serve as a platform for funders to dramatically impact the social change field,” said Andrés Spokoiny, JFN President and CEO. “Our partnership with seven leading foundations in this field  is a prime example of how our network of funders can collectively address critical societal issues.”

The remaining $500,000 of the matching fund pool will be awarded this spring. Applications for the second round are being accepted through April 28. More information is available at www.jewishsocialchange-match.org.

“Jews have been at the forefront of fighting for social change in the United States since well before the civil rights movement,” said Barbara Roswell, a trustee of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, one of the partners in the Fund. “This matching fund recognizes the fact that the passion for causes that address our nation’s key social justice issues has only intensified with the passage of time.”

The fund will provide 1-to-1 matches of grants to organizations and projects that address root causes of injustice from a particular Jewish context and advance social change through education, service learning, and organizing. These programs provide an explicitly Jewish framework for addressing social justice issues such as poverty, hunger, and the safety and security of women, children, and families.

Among the organizations and projects to receive matching funds are:

  • Jews for Racial and Economic Justice—This New York City-based organization will use the matching funds to pursue racial and economic justice by engaging Jewish individuals and institutions in partnership with immigrants and people of color.
  • Urban Adamah—An educational farm and community center in Berkeley, Calif., it will use its grant to help build a new campus for programs that emphasize sustainable agriculture and environmental education.
  • T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights— An advocate for human rights, this national organization uses the Torah and Jewish historical experience as foundations for its work supporting campaigns against slavery, trafficking, and prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.
  • IKAR—A progressive, egalitarian Jewish community based in Los Angeles, Calif., will use the funding to expand its Minyan Tzedek project which engages members of its community to work for justice while collaborating with national leaders on policy change.

“The opportunity to leverage my contribution by applying for the matching fund inspired me to significantly increase my giving level,” said Philip Rosenblatt, a funder whose gift to JOIN for Justice was matched. “It feels great to know I can now connect with other funders who are similarly dedicated to engaging Jews in the struggle for social justice in this country and know that my contribution will go even further to accomplish real systemic change.”

Steve Eisenbach-Budner, executive director of Tivnu: Building Justice, said his 3-year-old service-learning organization leveraged the matching fund in order to secure some of its largest-ever donations.

“The strategy of matching $15,000 gifts worked,” Eisenbach-Budner said. “The matching fund provided the incentive to significantly stretch how much we asked of potential donors.”

AVODAH was thrilled to leverage the matching fund when approaching both foundations,” said Marilyn Sneiderman, executive director of the poverty-fighting organization.  “The foundations were equally pleased to have the opportunity to double the impact of their gifts to AVODAH.”

In all, 17 organizations will be awarded grants in the first round: AmirAVODAH: The Jewish Service CorpsBend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for JusticeClergy and Laity United for Economic Justice -- LAIKARJewish Council on Urban AffairsJewish Disaster Response CorpsJews for Racial and Economic JusticeJOIN for JusticeMAZONNational Council of Jewish WomenShalom BayitT'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human RightsTivnu: Building Justice; and Urban Adamah. The matching grants range in size from $15,000 to $50,000. 

The foundations supporting the fund are: the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation; Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation; Nathan Cummings Foundation; Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation; Dorot Foundation; Walter & Elise Haas Fund; and Righteous Persons Foundation.

For more information about the matching fund, and to submit an application for the second round of grants, go to www.jewishsocialchange-match.org, or email info@jewishsocialchange-match.org.

JFN’s matching grants initiatives are part of an innovative strategy to increase the base contributions of major funders for a given field of Jewish philanthropy. Since its inception in 2004, matching grant initiatives run by JFN have generated more than $80 million in new funding for such causes as Jewish education and day schools, helping the Jewish elderly and poor, environmental protection in Israel, and Israeli nonprofits.

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