Innovation Fund Encourages New Ideas to Enhance Jewish Life in Austin

The Jewish Federation of Greater Austin is encouraging individuals and organizations to apply for new Innovation Fund (IF) micro-grants to support ideas for startup initiatives that will enhance the Austin Jewish community. Grant amounts of $5,000 or less and the total number of grant recipients will be decided by IF through a selection process which will include a written application and interviews. Submissions are due by October 1, 2010 and recipients will be notified by December 31, 2010. Applications and complete details about the Innovation Fund can be found at

Following the city’s long tradition of entrepreneurial excellence, the mission of IF is to inspire and advance initiatives that contribute to the continued growth and vitality of Jewish life in Austin. The vision of IF is for innovation to be integrated into the culture of Austin Jewish life, stimulating ongoing relevance and meaning.

While the economic slowdown meant fewer funds overall for distribution from the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin Annual Campaign, the organization’s 2009 Campaign Allocations Committee felt it was important to establish the Innovation Fund, believing in the power of individuals to transform community, and responding to the interest expressed for a long time by Jewish community leaders in creating such a fund.

Grant applications must fulfill at least one required priority, including promoting Jewish values, connecting Jewish people, educating the community, strengthening the community, mobilizing the community and enhancing Jewish life in Austin.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, located in and providing services in the Greater Austin area. Organizations already receiving allocations from the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin are ineligible. Funds will only be allocated for new initiatives, and may not be used for the benefit of an individual or for proprietary or commercial use.

Other Jewish communities have similar funds, some of which have supported initiatives that evolved into sophisticated nonprofit entities. Examples include UpStart in the San Francisco Bay area which helped nurture Sarah Lefton’s popular G-dcast series, Moishe House, and Wilderness Torah, among tens of other programs.