ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators today announced the launch of a $100,000 Micro Grants Fund to empower its 550 members in their creative initiatives and extend their impact on the Jewish world, with a maximum grant of $1,000. To kick off the new campaign, ROI is rolling out a two-minute video starring “Mini Me” Verne Troyer, the diminutive Hollywood celebrity, extolling the power of micro grants to make a mega difference.
“ROI members are young, high impact change agents who span the globe,” said ROI Community’s Executive Director Justin Korda. “The ROI Community Micro Grants Fund is an innovative philanthropic tool, leveraging small amounts of money at a critical time in the development of these early- to mid-career adults and their initiatives. In the coming years our goal is to invest hundreds of $1,000 grants to create ripples of change among one million young Jewish adults who are looking for creative entry points into Jewish life.”
Micro Grants will support ROI members in four areas:
- Travel to and participation in conferences to help them grow professionally and/or provide important exposure for their project;
- Training and skill building through special courses or executive coaching;
- Event sponsorship to boost grantees at a pivotal time; and
- Corporate support, including such services as legal, media relations and graphic design.
The new Micro Grants program builds on the success of ROI’s Speakers Bureau, which was established in 2008. “We backed members with small grants to speak at conferences they would not have otherwise been able to afford to attend,” said ROI Grants Manager No’a Gorlin. “Through these subsidies, not only did grantees gain exposure for their innovative initiatives, they were also able to impact policy, network with funders, and build new collaborations.”
In November 2010, thanks to an ROI Speakers Bureau grant, Australian Andre Oboler attended the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Canada, which brought together parliamentarians and other experts from 40 countries. He is now part of an international policy working group formed there.
In August 2010, StandWithUs’ Michelle Rojas-Tal of Jerusalem keynoted at the Australia Jewish Educators Conference in Melbourne, attended by nearly 400 Jewish educators from Australia and New Zealand. As a result, she was invited to speak at schools across Australia and is collaborating with the Australian Zionist Federation, providing StandWithUs materials, resources, speakers and workshops both in Australia and Israel.
In February 2010, Alan Grabinsky, founder of Jewish Salons Mexico, was a panelist on “The Innovation Ecosystem” at LimmudLA. His biggest funder, who was in the audience, rededicated himself to the project and Grabinsky began exploring ways to work with the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Hillel UCLA.
ROI is also embarking on a yearlong study to evaluate the impact of micro grants as a philanthropic model in advancing ROI member ventures, improving professional skills, and broadening exposure and networking opportunities.
The ROI Micro Grants Fund video is the fruit of an ROI network collaboration spanning Los Angeles, New York and Tel Aviv. “Good things come in small packages,” mugs “Mini Me” Verne Troyer at Mini Israel, as he urges ROI members to apply and reminds them that with a small amount of cash, they can make a big difference.
“These outstanding young Jewish innovators are creating Jewish communities in their own image,” said ROI Founder Lynn Schusterman. “We’re thrilled to be a part of that. I may make it possible, but they make it happen.”