Natan Fund Unveils Newest ROI Entrepreneurs Grant Recipients

A digital Shmita project, Israel’s version of the radio show “This American Life,” a global initiative promoting tourism to Jewish communities and a foundation supporting IDF soldiers who served in the Yahalom unit were all awarded 2015 Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs.

The Natan Fund, a giving circle for young professionals, issued its third annual round of dedicated grants for ROI Entrepreneurs, totaling $40,000, to four ROI Community members from the United States, Israel and Latin America. These grants will kick-start projects that invite young Jews and the broader community to explore and experience diverse and creative ways of bringing Jewish values and culture into their lives.

This grant-making partnership is generously funded by the Natan Fund to foster ROI Community members’ innovative ideas for diversifying Jewish life worldwide. The partnership between Natan and ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, was formed to connect Natan Fund’s young philanthropists with ROI members who have developed cutting-edge projects to deepen global Jewish engagement.

The recipients of the 2015 Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs are:

Digital Shmita (Israel): “Digital Shmita” is taking the idea of Shmita (Fallow) and bringing it to the internet. Digital Shmita works in collaboration with Labshul’s FallowLab and the Print Screen Festival for digital culture in Israel. Digital Shmita’s ultimate goal is to produce free solutions that will allow everyone to experience Shmita in their daily connected lives.

Israel Story/Sippur Israeli (United States and Israel): “Israel Story” is a new radio program dedicated to telling the story of a different, diverse Israel. Modeled after National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” this show seeks to portray the intricacies of Israeli society and showcase its rich plurality. Israel, it says, is ultimately much more complicated, nuanced and interesting than the usual media coverage it receives. The show seeks to amplify and humanize voices that are rarely heard on the airwaves; to tell long-form, non-fiction tales by, and about, regular Israelis.

Judaic Tourism (Latin America): “Judaic Tourism” is a project that works to strengthen Jewish identity through the preservation and enhancement of Jewish heritage. The project connects people with history, culture and Jewish life in cities around the world, promoting tourism to Jewish sites and communities and connecting visitors to local Jewish culture.

Yahalom Foundation (Israel): The “Yahalom Foundation” will be the first-ever nonprofit organization benefiting current and former soldiers of Yahalom, a special forces combat engineering unit in the Israel Defense Forces. The Yahalom Foundation is dedicated to supporting Yahalom commandos during their active-duty service and afterwards, during their reserve duty.

The work of these ROI activists and entrepreneurs dovetails with the Natan Fund’s mission to provide early-stage funding for creative approaches that seek to address some of the central challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel. Among Natan’s goals is to create new access points to Jewish life, especially for younger Jews who are less engaged with existing communal organizations.