Social Venture Fund Awards $887k to 24 Israeli Groups Advancing Shared Society Between Arab and Jewish Citizens

Like most educational programs, Masar — a gap-year program for college-bound Arab citizens of Israel — had to quickly shift from in-person to online activities when the Covid pandemic hit last March.

But, with WiFi service unreliable in many Arab villages and large numbers of participants lacking home computers, pivoting wasn’t easy. Nonetheless, the two-year-old Masar (an Edmond de Rothschild Partnerships program whose name is Arabic for "journey") managed to maintain its intensive programing and enlist its young participants in volunteer activities that were critically needed throughout the Arab community, such as staffing an emergency center providing food, medicine and other assistance, and helping raise awareness about Covid.

Masar, which is now in its third year and seeks to reduce the disproportionately high college dropout rates among Arab students, is one of more than 27 projects receiving grants in 2020 through the Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society (SVF). In a year of unprecedented challenges, the SVF grants helped critical Israeli organizations stay afloat and respond to new needs. It also helped one organization, the Galilee Society, establish a life-saving Covid Emergency Situation Room coordinating communication between Arab municipal leaders and the national government. A full list of the 2020 grants is available at (see Grantees menu).

“In a year of extreme hardship, uncertainty, and countless philanthropic demands, our members were more engaged than ever,” said Josh Arnow, co-chair of the SVF board. “I think we all felt that our commitment to learn and fund together, and to support our grantees through the crisis, was a meaningful part of helping to secure the future of the field of Jewish-Arab equality and shared society. Over the years we have invested in people and organizations, a number of which are co-led by Jews and Arabs working shoulder-to-shoulder to advance economic and educational equality in Arab communities and to build the foundation for a more cohesive, inclusive social fabric in Israel. Our continued investment was critical during 2020 to ensure that this work continued and, where possible, grew to have an even greater impact.”

Ranging from $17,000 to $50,000, SVF’s 2020 grants went to 27 projects, housed at 24 organizations throughout Israel, from shared society education and spoken Arabic programs, to increasing Arab employment and entrepreneurship in Israel’s tech sector and supporting inclusive municipal governance initiatives in cities with diverse populations.

SVF is a 23-member philanthropic collaborative that brings together individuals, foundations, and Jewish Federations who support an equal and inclusive shared society in Israel for the benefit of all of its citizens. It supports Israeli NGOs that promote economic integration and improved educational opportunities for Arab citizens of Israel and that support the institutional foundations of an equal and inclusive shared society. It awards grants in three areas: economic development, education, and emerging issues.

Working together through SVF allows members to learn from each other and from leading experts in the field, and to have greater influence than they could have by acting individually. Most SVF members provide financial support to Israeli NGOs doing work in this area in addition to grants made through SVF and believe that their participation in SVF enables them to have broader exposure to the issues, trends, and key players in a field that has become increasingly dynamic and that is highly relevant to the future of Israel.

Since launching in 2008, SVF has made grants totaling more than $9 million to organizations in Israel. Initially under the auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America, SVF became part of JFN in 2016.