The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) recently awarded 24 grants to 13 non-profit Israeli environmental organizations in a matching grants initiative sponsored by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, generating more than $1.5 million for the Israeli environmental movement.
The Fund, based in San Francisco, stipulated that it would provide between $25,000 to $50,000 in matching funds to donors making first-time gifts for the environment in Israel or to a funder willing to double a previous donation to the Israeli environmental movement.
Despite the harsh economic climate and deep cutbacks in grantmaking, JFN received more than 35 applications from independent philanthropists, private and public foundations during the six-month period that the matching grant program was open. More than two-thirds of the applicant donors were first time funders of the issue and more than a third were Israeli funders. “Time and again we see that even in a tough environment funders will respond to opportunities to accomplish more with their money,” said Mark Charendoff, JFN’s President. “Leveraging funds makes a lot of sense when you need to do more with less.”
The 13 recipient organizations in Israel, which each received between $50,000 and $250,000 through the initiative, are small, dynamic groups, most with an annual operating budget of under $500,000. The awarded grants will fund a wide range of projects including a transboundary environmental park on both sides of the Jordan River, endorsed by Israeli and Jordanian governments and an institute to train Israeli mayors in environmentally sustainable urban development “This is more than just a grant to fund a community center,” said Ra’ed Al-Mickawi of Bustan, which received funds to build an environmental community center in a Bedouin village, built in the traditional technique of mud building. “An Ecological Community Center is a first step in transforming the Negev into not only an environmentally ‘green’ region, but also into a socially ‘green’ area – where all people, regardless of their ethnicity, can thrive.”
The full list of grantees includes:
- Derech Hateva
- Ecopeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East
- Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership
- Israel Green Building Council
- Link to the Environment
- Movement for Israeli Urbanism
- Project Wadi Attir
- Shahaf Community Development Center
- Sviva Israel
- The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
- The Sheli Fund
This is the seventh successful matching grant program run by JFN. Past initiatives have generate over $63 million to support Jewish day schools, services for Jewish elderly poor, Israeli non-profit organizations, Jewish summer camps, and Israel advocacy organizations.
“The overwhelming success of our matching grants initiative and the response from so many first time donors shows that this is a tremendous tool for leveraging money and inspiring new philanthropy, “ Charendoff said. “The environmental sector in Israel, in particular, is an area where there is both great need and great potential for generosity.