As they enter their 5th year, the ROI Community – under the sponsorship of philanthropist Lynn Schusterman – is surging forward. Launched in 2006, the network has directly connected over 500 young, global Jewish leaders and touched thousands more.
Working hands-on with the young participants, ROI reflects Schusterman’s growing focus on providing opportunities for this cohort to develop into the newest generation of leadership.
Today’s release of close to $500,000 in grants to program alumni is just one of several ways in which Schusterman has expanded into areas of non-traditional grant-making to assist members of the ROI Community. Developing a speakers bureau to help with travel expenses for attendees at various conferences, providing greater opportunities for ongoing professional and skill development and encouraging a greater level of collaboration – including joint recipient grants – have leveraged the initial investment many times over.
This summer’s ROI Summit program is unique as it will focus on mobilizing for the future. Drawing from past attendees, the program will be heavy on fostering engagement and collaboration among the participants. We’ll have more on the Summit this summer. In the meantime, here’s today’s release of new grants.
And by the way, Kol HaKavod to Lynn Schsuterman – for not only the vision to implement this program, but for nurturing it through her own very visible, and enthusiastic, participation over the years.
The ROI Community announced today that nearly $500,000 will be awarded to 35 initiatives that are being led by members of its international network of young Jewish activists. Hailing from 11 countries, the projects range from early to mid-stages of development. The ROI Community is funded by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and aims to support young leaders worldwide who are making Jewish life more exciting and accessible.
“The announcement of these grants, as well as a special gathering this summer for our alumni, are two of the ways that we are celebrating ROI’s fifth anniversary,” said Lynn Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “I’m very proud of the ROIers. In their hands, the Jewish future looks very bright.” This funding reflects Schusterman’s growing focus on expanding experiences and networking for Jewish young adults by working directly with individuals to foster collaboration between organizations.
The initiatives are diverse in subject matter, tackling issues such as global Jewish identity, social justice, Jewish education and inclusivity. In order to enhance the impact of these grants, the staff of the Schusterman Foundation and the ROI Community will provide professional support and networking opportunities aimed at creating partnerships with other organizations operating in similar spaces.
“After five years of expanding this network, we are now focusing on how to best mobilize it,” said ROI Director, Justin Korda. “These grants are meant to support idea generation within the network, direct engagement and collaboration among ROI members, and the recruitment of new members to the community.”
The 35 finalists were chosen from a pool of over 120 applications that were submitted by ROI members who attended at least one of the organization’s international gatherings, including the annual ROI Summit that has taken place in Israel every July since 2006.
One of the key elements of the ROI network is its global nature, explains No’a Gorlin, the ROI Grants Manager. “With network members spanning nearly 40 countries, it was important to us that our grantees reflect this global scope.” Gorlin adds that “focus was put on projects that deploy the ROI network in a variety of ways: they are the products of collaborative initiatives between members; they create diverse opportunities for experiencing enriched Jewish content and programs; they offer platforms for communication and collaboration using various media; and some of them support leadership development in small communities in Latin America and Europe.”
One noteworthy project is Jewcology, a collaboration of 17 ROI members that will be a web portal for Jewish environmentalists. Others include AlmaLinks, Bat Kol, Bible Raps, Challah for Hunger, G-dcast, Haggadot.com, Jew It Yourself, Jewish Salons, Oleh! Records, Omanoot and Unmasked Comics for Social Change. A complete list of grantees as well as a list of the participants in this summer’s unique ROI gathering – a 5th Anniversary Summit bringing together alumni from all four previous gatherings – is available online at ROIcommunity.org.
about: ROI is a global community of young Jewish leaders that was created by Lynn Schusterman as a partnership between the Center for Leadership Initiatives and Taglit-Birthright Israel. ROI offers international gatherings, professional development and financial support to its membership of innovators and activists. Over the past five years, ROI has become one of the leading vehicles for young Jewish leaders to network with peers, gain skills and get traction toward implementing their visions for the Jewish future. Since the first ROI Summit in 2006, the network has grown to over 500 members spanning nearly forty countries.
image courtesy ROI Community