Seeks Best and Brightest to Realize Their Visions to Reinvigorate the American Jewish Community
Pioneer of Jewish Social Entrepreneurship Offers Early-stage Funding and Resources to Young Visionaries
After a four-year hiatus, Joshua Venture Group (formerly known as Joshua Venture), a not-for-profit organization that identifies and cultivates emerging Jewish leaders and champions their visions for social change in the Jewish community, has re-launched its fellowship program. JVGroup will recruit eight exceptional social entrepreneurs from across the U.S. to participate in its Dual Investment Program, a two-year fellowship that provides $40,000 each year in early-stage funding, training, and resources to help a select group of young Jewish social entrepreneurs to build sustainable initiatives that support the Group’s mission. Applications for the Program’s 2010-2012 cohort are being accepted until January 3, 2010 and will be announced in April.
Launched in 1998, Joshua Venture was known for cultivating progressive, creative ventures that have helped shape today’s Jewish landscape. Between 2000 and 2005, it funded groundbreaking ventures like JDub Records, Sharsheret, Keshet, Heeb Magazine, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Storahtelling, and many others. In 2005, Joshua Venture suspended its operations to re-evaluate its structure, but not before leaving its mark as a pioneer in the now burgeoning field of Jewish social entrepreneurship. The decision to re-launch the program came after research and careful deliberation by a group of dedicated individuals and funders.
“We’ve restructured our management, governance, program, and funding model to ensure that we have a strong foundation to support what we see as a critical mission for the Jewish community,” said Alan Cohen, chair of the board of directors of Joshua Venture Group. “The board brought on Lisa Lepson, a top-tier executive and dynamic leader, to spearhead the re-launch of Joshua Venture Group at a time when Jewish communities are faced with great challenges but also with many more opportunities.”
The organization was originally founded by pioneers of a social entrepreneurship model in the Jewish community as a way to empower young leaders and provide them with the resources and tools to build influential projects that would bring new life to their Jewish communities. The new Joshua Venture Group has secured five years of funding for core operations from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation and remains committed to the goal of revitalizing and enhancing Jewish communities.
“I am thrilled that Joshua Venture is re-launching as Joshua Venture Group. It marks the return of an unparalleled resource for the national Jewish community with notable programmatic enhancements that reflect learnings and the current state of the art. Joshua Venture Group is unique in its dedication of this level of support both in terms of funding and of personal and professional developmental resources for Jewish social entrepreneurs and new ideas. We are proud to support the most promising social entrepreneurs and invest heavily in their development and potential for success,” said Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, president and chair of the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, Joshua Venture board member from 2004-2005, and steward of Joshua Venture Group’s re-constitution of funders and board.
As part of the re-launch, Joshua Venture formulated a new brand identity, which includes a new logo, web site, and tagline: “Bold Visions. Dynamic Leaders. Real Progress.” It also added the word “Group” to its name to reflect the organization’s increased emphasis on the collective nature of its work, its cohorts, and as an allusion to the venture capital industry, which seeds ventures that can demonstrate measurable outcomes, superior performance, and judicious use of funds.
“Joshua Venture Group has historically played an important role in supporting young leaders with bold visions. We will continue to hand-pick talented leaders who are dedicated to creating not just new or unique projects, but sustainable enterprises that will truly transform the American Jewish community,” said Lisa Lepson, executive director of Joshua Venture Group and a veteran of the social entrepreneurship movement. “We will seek out visionaries who can navigate the difficult obstacles of building a start-up and persevere through difficult challenges. Innovative funding and income generation models, as well as the potential to leverage projects for maximum impact, will be of special interest – particularly in a tough economy,” she said.
The Dual Investment Program
Joshua Venture Group’s “Dual Investment Program,” formerly called the “Joshua Venture Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurs,” offers participants funding and support services such as stipends for health insurance, professional and organizational support, semi-annual retreats with skill-building workshops, and individualized coaching worth over $100,000 throughout the two-year period. The highly selective program will focus on investing in both visionary leaders and the groundbreaking ideas presented during the application process with a particular bend toward seeing long-lasting and wide-ranging results.
To find the most transformative enterprises, JVGroup has opened up the criteria from its previous incarnation. Unlike similar funding organizations, there is no age limit or required organizational structure; for-profit social ventures, autonomous projects within more established organizations, and concept – and nascent-stage organizations to those that have been around up to 5 years and have budgets of up to $500,000 are all eligible. Applicants must present a mission for having social impact in the American Jewish community, propose a sound venture structure, and have proven leadership qualities.
Applications for the 2010-2012 cohorts are available at www.joshuaventuregroup.org; Fellows will be announced in April 2010.