The Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago has awarded $349,890 to 21 unique projects that improve the lives of Jewish women and girls locally and around the world.

The grants focus on projects that promote social change at the individual, community and institutional levels. JWF increased the support of local projects to nine and seven international. The foundation increased the number of new grants to 10 and renewed six others. The total includes the foundation’s second multiyear grant and grants from The Ellie Fund.

JWF awarded the largest grant in its history to SHALVA’s Legal Liaison Program. The $75,000 grant – $25,000 a year over three years – is JWF’s second multiyear impact initiative. The Legal Liaison Program integrates an attorney into the victim’s support process. When SHALVA’s clinical staff identifies a need, clients are referred to a legal liaison, who explains legal documents and procedures, facilitates communication with the victim’s attorney, and addresses issues such as child custody, bankruptcy and orders of protection. The liaison also is responsible for recruiting attorneys to provide pro bono or affordable legal representation to SHALVA’s clients, as well as promoting awareness and education on the legal needs of domestic violence victims within the community.

In the past, SHALVA has addressed clients’ legal needs through referrals, education and support services. With the addition of the legal liaison, SHALVA’s staff will be able to address a wider spectrum of client needs. Legal issues are the fastest-growing need facing SHALVA’s clients. “The issue of violence against women and girls in the Chicago Jewish community is a priority for our foundation, and we are thrilled to support this all-encompassing program,” Kahnweiler said.

From a pool of over $2.5 million in grant requests this year, JWF trustees identified and selected those projects that best reflect the foundation’s mission. The process included detailed reviews of grant proposals and budgets, conference calls with program staff, and site visits.

In addition to SHALVA’s Legal Liaison Program, new grantees this year include ATZUM: Task Force on Human Trafficking; Adva Center: Community Empowerment to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls; Beit Morasha: Women’s Halakha Program for Senior Scholars; Jewish Women International: Sexual Assault Prevention Program; National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section: Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking Coalition Chicago; Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, Inc.: Reproductive Rights Project; Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar: Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change; and TrueChild: Improving Health, Economic Empowerment and Leadership Among Jewish Tweens by Addressing Feminine Gender Norms.

JWF also renewed grants to AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation: End Demand Illinois Campaign; Center for the Advancement of Women in the Public Sphere at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute: The Gender Index: Monitoring and Promoting the Status of Women in Israel; Center for Women’s Justice Public Interest Litigation Project; Eden Center: Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikvah Attendants; Jewish Community Center: BeTween: A Jewish Community Planning Initiative; Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Ma’yan Research Training Internship.

Additionally, JWF’s Ellie Fund, established by founding JWF Trustee Ellen Block, awarded seven grants to organizations working to help girls and women reach their full potential. These include:

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation: Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation Program; JUF/Jewish Federation: Ma’yan Research Training Internship; Mavoi Satum: Justice and Support for All – Legal Representation and Social Support for Mesoravot Get; NATAL-Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War: Empowering Women: Training Early Childhood Teachers to Become Leaders, Influencers, and Important Community; and The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell; Women Moving Millions.