Five Israel-based programs which foster Jewish identity, women’s economic empowerment and independent living are the recipients of grants totaling $600,000 from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation).
Artists & Musicians for Israel-Neshima (AMI-Neshima) and Israel Elwyn (IE) are among the organizations to receive program funding this year. AMI-Neshima, which was awarded $150,000 over three years, trains teachers to promote and strengthen pluralistic Jewish identity through performing- and fine-arts education. The recipient of a three-year $100,000 grant, IE provides adults with disabilities the means to achieve economic independence, community-inclusion and dignity.
The Foundation awards its multi-year Israel Grants annually to organizations throughout Israel that can create meaningful change in the country, that have achievable short-term outcomes that affect a significant number of people or regions, and that offer opportunities for partnerships with other funders. Since 2006, The Foundation has made 34 Israel Grants of up to $250,000 awarded over three years, equaling a total of more than $5 million.
Connecting with Judaism through Arts Education
Artists & Musicians for Israel – Neshima received a grant for its Neshima Teacher Training program, which will prepare 1,200 teachers at 100 schools to integrate the Neshima music and arts curriculum into their classrooms. This training, in turn, is anticipated to reach 37,000 Israeli teens through an experiential model of music and art to fortify Jewish identity through lyric writing, composition, drawing and drama. Since its inception in 2006, 80 to 90 percent of the 10,000 youth participants to date cite Neshima workshops as their first positive connection with Judaism.
Job Training, Placement Foster Disabled Independence
The Supported Employment Program of Israel Elwyn, another grant recipient, will afford job training and placement to a total of 300 additional disabled individuals throughout Israel, while expanding the participating employer pool by 500 over three years. Program participants will spend three months in intensive vocational training in a range of occupational settings. IE also will use its grant to establish an informational website for workers and employers; create a deeper pool of employment opportunities to speed job placement; and create instructional materials for employers on workplace inclusiveness for the disabled.
Currently being adopted as a model by the Israeli government based on its success, IE boasts 600 program graduates to date, 80 percent of whom remain employed after three years, with 85 percent of the 2012 alumni class alone finding jobs in a highly competitive environment.
Other Israel Grant awards include:
- Kolot, Seven Pillars Jewish Identity Program, $150,000 – An initiative to engage 225-250 young, influential Israeli leaders per year in intensive study to strengthen Jewish identity and to provide the necessary skills to apply similar religious values in their personal and professional lives and impart that influence on others. The program targets primarily lay leaders and young professionals, Israel Defense Force officers and others through a curriculum stressing human equality, interpersonal relationships, and connection to the land of Israel, among other areas.
- Koret Israel Economic Development Funds (KIEDF) Microfinance for Low Income Jewish Women, $100,000 – The grant will provide funding over three years to assist 135 low-income women in developing microenterprises, including business-development training both pre- and post-loan. The training and loan services will concentrate on Charedi and immigrant women, principally from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. Since 2006, KIEDF has provided microfinancing to 2,500 enterprises with 70 percent of its clients reporting their family income has increased by at least 30 percent after three years.
- Todah L’Tzahal (Thank Israeli Soldiers), Heritage Lectures/Jerusalem Experience/Jerusalem Shabbat Experience, $100,000 – An initiative to provide Jewish identity programming to 250,000 soldiers, Todah L’Tzahal, in partnership with Israel Defense Forces’ education department, will travel to army bases for lectures designed to deepen connection to faith. The program will also include visits to Jerusalem for soldiers and Shabbat experiences for officer cadets. Since its inception in 2005, the organization has provided soldiers with approximately 900,000 Jewish identity experiences.
About: Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles is the largest manager of charitable assets and the leader in planned-giving solutions for Greater Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. The Foundation currently manages assets of $812 million (as of Dec. 31, 2012) and ranks among the 11 largest Los Angeles foundations. In 2012, The Foundation and its more than 1,000 donors distributed $53 million in grants to hundreds of organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving.