APRIL 2021

Dear Friend,

You may notice that this newsletter looks a little different than previous ones. That’s because Deena Fuchs, who served as the lead staff member for the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty, recently moved on to an exciting new position at the Micah Fund. We are grateful to Deena for her incredible leadership in the affinity group’s first two years, which intensified in the past year as a result of the Covid pandemic.

While we miss Deena, our work to end Jewish poverty continues. We’re restarting our bi-monthly series of webinars highlighting emerging needs and showcasing success factors. Our next one, focusing on landscape analysis, is this Thursday. 

In this month’s newsletter, you’ll learn about our upcoming webinars, get highlights from our work responding to the pandemic, and find out about a “Bright Spot” in Boston — a project that is making mental health care more widely accessible. We also share a video from a session at last month’s JFN 2021 International Conference, important coverage from eJewish Philanthropy, information about a new project to help Jewish funders and nonprofits be more effective, and, as always, curated resources and articles from the field.

Thank you for playing a critical role in elevating issues of poverty on our community’s agenda. Please let us know (email Tamar at [email protected]) how we can help you in your work and if you have “bright spots” to share.


The National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty Team:
Susan Wolf Ditkoff, The Bridgespan Group
Tamar Frydman, Jewish Funders Network
Jonathan Hornstein, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Rafi Rone, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation


—Upcoming Events—

Thursday, April 22, 12 pm ET (9 am PT)

Our ongoing bimonthly series addresses the challenges the coronavirus pandemic has created for Jews living in poverty and the agencies that serve them, while also highlighting the successful responses to these challenges.

Future sessions will occur every other Thursday. Save the following dates (all Thursdays, from 12-1 pm ET) for the next three sessions: May 20, June 3, and June 17. More dates will be announced soon.

In this week's session, we'll focus on landscape analysis.

Speakers will include Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Senior Advisor of The Bridgespan Group.

RSVP here.


—Our Work—

Affinity Group Featured in eJewish Philanthropy

Jewish poverty took center stage in eJewish Philanthropy's pre-Passover issue, with a "primer" on Jewish poverty. Reporter Helen Chernikoff spoke extensively to Jonathan Hornstein about the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty, and about the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation's work with Jewish Federations of North America to collect better data on Jewish poverty. 

“Jewish poverty mirrors poverty within the broader United States," Hornstein told eJP. "It’s single mothers. It’s older people. It’s people with disabilities. It’s people who lost their jobs in the pandemic."

The article also highlighted Affinity Group member UJA-Federation of New York's cutting-edge The Hub, a new one-stop facility for providing a variety of services to Jews and others struggling with poverty, and noted the widespread innovation in the field.

“A lot of donors are interested in things that are new, cutting-edge, and different from what other people are funding,” Affinity Group member Jeff Schoenfeld said in the article. “Historically that wouldn’t have been describing poverty, but this is a tremendous moment of innovation.”

Responding to a Year of Covid 

In the past year the Affinity Group has been focused on sharing information about needs and responses as a result of the Covid pandemic and on equipping local communities with the necessary tools. Some highlights:

  • Thirty-eight community teams gathered at our intensive workshop at the Jewish Federations of North America’s FedLab in November to build action plans on Jewish poverty. Learn more about the FedLab workshop here.
  • We developed six funder briefs to help philanthropists and foundation professionals better understand where their investments can have the greatest impact in addressing housing needs, food insecurity, aging adults, workforce training, and other critical areas. Read them here.
  • We grew our community of subscribers (as least as measured by this newsletter) from 300 to over 750. These are not just passive subscribers; we have a 50 percent open rate, and a 15 percent click-through rate, both well above industry standards! Read past issues of the newsletter here.
  • We have organized 12 webinars, joined by more than 400 unique individuals, and the recordings are continuing to be viewed on our Facebook and YouTube playlists. Many of you have either led or helped spearhead these webinars, and we are deeply appreciative of your efforts.


—Bright Spot—

In Boston, Expanding Access to Mental Health Care 

Mental illness is one of many major challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. A difficult challenge in its own right, mental health struggles have ripple effects on families and communities, and particularly when individuals and families are struggling with financial instability. That’s why Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston partnered with McLean Hospital and Jewish Family and Children’s Service to offer Path to Well-being, an initiative that aims to make mental health care more widely available in the Greater Boston Jewish community.

“We saw a huge increased need taking place right in front of us, and that no one organization alone was equipped to manage,” said Amanda Hadad, CJP’s Associate Vice President of Caring and Social Justice.

“The key is in the partnership,” explained Hadad. “CJP is not a direct service provider or a mental health expert, but we have been successful in convening organizations around the table for collective impact."

People who are interested in Path to Well-being are connected to a counselor, who works with the person to understand their needs and make warm handoffs to appropriate services within and beyond mental health. “The idea is to take the burden off the individual,” said Hadad.

An Internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (iCBT) program, Path to Well-being uses a series of self-paced quizzes, guided questions, and visualizations combined with live coaching to help adults experiencing anxiety and depression. CJP covers fees so that there is no cost for patients. (Most health insurance plans do not cover iCBT, something CJP and McLean are hoping will change in the future.) So far, 50 people have participated, and 300 are expected to be served this year.

“iCBT is a data-driven and effective, and it’s convenient because it's self-paced and people can choose whether to access it from their computer or an app on their phone,” said Hadad. “There is also a shortage of mental health professionals, so the opportunity to provide virtual services beyond one-on-one telehealth is important.”

Expanding access to care through iCBT is just the beginning, however.

“We hear over and over again that people don’t know where to go or who to call to get care, and they don’t feel like the Jewish community is a place they can go for mental health needs,” Hadad said. “We see this as a first step in building a centralized, accessible way for people to get mental health resources.”

Other avenues being explored include helping people find therapists and Jewish substance abuse treatment.

“We want to collectively create a new system for Boston’s Jewish community where people can access support and mental health resources with ease and dignity,” Hadad said.

To learn more about Path to Well-being and the CJP’s other mental health initiatives, visit www.cjp.org/path-to-well-being or email Madeline Wenzel at [email protected]


Affinity Group Videos on YouTube

At JFN's 2021 International Conference last month, the Affinity Group held a session with Ariel Zwang, CEO of JDC; and Rachel Monroe, President and CEO of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, on a “New Blueprint for Addressing Jewish Poverty." You can watch it, and the growing library of all Affinity Group videos, on this playlist on JFN's YouTube channel. For a more focused experience, check out the following Affinity Group playlists:

The Affinity Group Website

Your one-stop shop for all Affinity Group videos, briefing papers, newsletters, and other materials.

GrantED: Stronger Relationships. Greater Impact.

A joint project of Jewish Funders Network and UpStart, GrantED (jgranted.org) creates and curates articles, tools, and other materials to inspire and inform grantmakers and grantseekers, organizing around four core interdependent components of successful partnerships: strengthening relationships, understanding and addressing power dynamics, sustaining impact, and effective communication.

GrantED's resources and case studies are selected with an eye toward sharing best practices, showcasing success stories, and equipping funders and nonprofits with the tools to improve. GrantED also encourages interaction and knowledge-sharing by offering workshops, facilitated conversations, and other programs. Learn more at www.jgranted.org.

—From the Field—

Biden Takes On Sagging Safety Net With Plan to Fix Long-Term Care
(New York Times, April 15)

Off the Grid: A Flood of Federal Aid Often Fails to Reach America's Poorest Families
(Washington Post, April 15)

MAZON CEO Abby Leibman Seizing the Moment on Hunger Policy
(eJewish Philanthropy
, April 15)

A New $100 Million Fund Aims to End Homelessness. Building Housing Is Only Part of It
(Fast Company, April 12)

How Food Banks Succeeded and What They Need Now
(New York Times, April 2)

About a Third of Holocaust Survivors in the U.S. Live in Poverty. This Group Helps Them.
(Washington Post, March 24)

Be sure to check out the collection of articles we published last year in partnership with eJewish Philanthropy.

Founded in 2019 and coordinated by Jewish Funders Network and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty is a collaborative of funders, Jewish Federations, direct service providers, researchers, media outlets, and advocates dedicated to fighting poverty in the American Jewish community. Learn more here.