The Covenant Foundation announces $1.6m. in New Grants

The Covenant Foundation announced $1.6 million in new grants today, investing in Jewish organizations and initiatives with sweeping potential for the field of Jewish Education.

“We continue to be surprised and delighted by the creativity and diversity of ideas that arrive over the transom during our grant application process,” said Cheryl R. Finkel, Chair of the Board of Directors of The Covenant Foundation. “This year’s grantee cohort brings a fresh batch of exciting initiatives to the Jewish community and with those initiatives comes the promise to engage, excite and inspire Jewish learners of all ages.”

Foundation grants are divided into two categories: Signature grants, which generally provide funding of up to $150,000 over three years, and Ignition grants, of up to $20,000 for one year to support new and untested approaches.

The grants announced today are part of approximately $1.8 million to be distributed this year.

“Our grants docket includes an exciting array of geographically and thematically varied projects – crisscrossing the coasts from Maine to Seattle, and launching new Jewish ideas that breathe energy into cities and schools, camps and museums, synagogues and community centers, the digital space and beyond,” said Harlene Appelman, Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation.

“It is our most genuine hope that the dreams represented by these new grantees will inspire educators across the country to keep bringing us their biggest and best ideas. Together, we will continue to grow the rich and varied landscape of Jewish education in North America.”

2017 Signature grants

Base, New York, NY with multi-city reach in New York City (Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan), Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Base: Growing a National Movement. To deepen engagement with Jewish young adults and to grow its vision for the growing network of Bases in Brooklyn, Downtown Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington D.C. Base is a project incubated in Hillel International’s Office of Innovation.

Project Director: Faith Leener; $50,000 (1 year).

Center for Small Town Jewish Life, Waterville, ME with regional reach in the Northeast. Enriching Jewish Life and Training Future Leaders in Maine. To enhance its year-round training and mentorship programs, rabbinical internships, teen track initiatives, lay leadership sessions, Fall Shabbatonim, and social entrepreneurship workshops.

Project Directors: Rabbi Rachel Isaacs and Melanie Weiss; $149,693 (3 years).

The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA with national reach. What We Hold: 100 Jewish Teen Voices. To support the creation of What We Hold: 100 Jewish Teen Voices, an educational program that will create and disseminate recorded audio stories by Jewish teens that explore Jewish values and intergenerational family narratives.

Project Director: Fraidy Aber; $48,000 (1 year).

Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY with local reach in the New York Metropolitan area. Machon Madяich for Russianspeaking Jewish Educators. To create Machon Madяich, a fellowship program that will recruit 36 high school and college-aged students from New York City’s Russian-speaking Jewish community annually, and train them to work in Jewish educational settings.

Project Director: Violetta Shmulenzon; $150,000 (3 years).

Girls in Trouble, Portland, OR with national reach. Girls in Trouble Curriculum, Phase 2. To launch Phase 2 of the Girls in Trouble Curriculum, in which 15 additional Biblical women will be brought to life through the powerful combination of art, music, and text.

Project Director: Alicia Jo Rabins; $70,000 (2 years).

Hold On To Your Music, Los Angeles, CA with multi-city reach in Los Angeles, Phoenix (AZ), Pittsburgh (PA), Portland (OR), Washington D.C., and Westport (CT). The Willesden READ Day School Initiative. To educate students at Jewish day schools in six cities across the country about the Holocaust and the Kindertransport, through The Willesden READ Day School Initiative, which utilizes educational, dramatic, literary, and musical concepts.

Project Director: Jackie Maduff; $25,000 (1 year).

Illuminated Jewish Stories, Sharon, MA with national reach. Illuminated Jewish Stories. To support the creation and dissemination of Jewish educational art materials for adult learners, educator trainings, and programs.

Project Director: Rabbi Ariel Burger; $50,000 (1 year).

The inHEIRitance Project, New York, NY with local reach in the New York Metropolitan Area. The Genesis Plays Festival. To bring the five acclaimed Genesis Plays, created and produced in Jewish communities around the country, to New York City, culminating in a theater festival in the spring of 2018.

Project Director: Jon Adam Ross; $75,000 (1 year).

Jewish Family Service of Seattle, Seattle, WA with local reach and national implications. Project Kavod 2.0. JFS will expand Project Kavod’s reach to the greater community and JFS educators nationally, engaging them around issues of civic commitment and social change.

Project Director: Beth Huppin; $50,000 (1 year).

Limmud FSU International Foundation, New York, NY with national reach. Jewish Educational Enrichment for Limmud FSU Volunteers. To fund a holistic volunteer education and leadership training program for United States-based Limmud FSU volunteers.

Project Director: Noam Shumakh; $150,000 (3 years).

Moving Traditions, Jenkintown, PA with national reach. A New Model for Family Bnai Mitzvah Education. To create and disseminate a new model of family education for b’nai mitzvah tweens and their parents, bringing Jewish wisdom to bear on the real-life challenges of becoming a teenager and parenting a teenager.

Project Director: Rabbi Daniel Brenner; $172,000 (3 years).

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA with national reach. American Jewish History Curriculum and National Educators Institute. To support the creation of a curriculum for students and professional development opportunities for teachers in order to improve the teaching of American Jewish history in day and supplementary schools.

Project Director: Dr. Josh Perelman; $50,000 (1 year).

Sefaria, Inc., New York, NY with national reach. Sefaria Partnership Initiative Repository. To create the Sefaria Partnership Initiative Repository through which Sefaria will document and distribute best practices and tools related to the teaching and learning of Jewish texts online.

Project Director: Russel Neiss; $150,000 (3 years).

Studio 70, Berkeley, CA with local reach in the San Francisco Bay Area and national implications. Studio 70 Developing an Improvement Infrastructure for Innovations in Jewish Education. A planning grant to support and strengthen part-time Jewish education nationally by: sharing lessons learned in the larger field; facilitating a network of Jewish social entrepreneurs and creating opportunities for professional development, resource sharing, webinars, and an annual conference.

Project Directors: Rabbi Yoshi Fenton and Elana Naftalin-Kelman; $20,000 (1 year).

The Well, West Bloomfield, MI with multi-city reach in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington DC. CSI: Coffee. Study. Interpret. To fund the expansion of its CSI: Coffee. Study. Interpret. Beit Midrash-style learning series to three new communities.

Project Director: Rabbi Dan Horwitz; $46,500 (1 year).

Yeshivat Maharat, Bronx, NY with national reach. Educating the Integrated 21st Century Rabbi. To revise and expand its’ three-year Leadership Development Curriculum to include knowledge of pedagogy, experiential education, and entrepreneurship for all Yeshivat Maharat students.

Project Director: Rabba Sara Hurwitz; $150,000 (3 years).

2017 Ignition Grants

In the City Camp, Atlanta, GA with local reach in Metropolitan Atlanta. In the City Camp Goes to Synagogue Preschool Camp. To bring its Jewish camp curriculum, experiential teaching technique, and marketing knowledge to synagogue early childhood camps in an effort to strengthen these programs and increase collaboration among Jewish education providers in Atlanta.

Project Director: Eileen Price; $20,000 (1 year).

JCC Greater Boston, Newton, MA with local reach in Greater Boston. ME/WE: Seeing Something New Together. To implement the ME/WE project, which uses art to elicit and create stories to help families explore their own narratives and connection to Jewish life.

Project Director: Jeanne Ruckert Lovy; $20,000 (1 year).

JCC Manhattan, New York, NY with local reach in the New York Metropolitan Area and national implications. 2020 Vision. To develop a curriculum beginning with a weeklong pilot program of 2020 Vision, and continuing with a year-long civics “boot camp” course aimed at preparing teens for full participation in democratic society by training them in the art of civil discourse and introducing them to important topics such as news literacy, identifying community challenges, and encouraging activism.

Project Directors: Sonia Alexander and Beth Cooper Benjamin; $20,000 (1 year).

jGirls Magazine, New York, NY with national reach. jGirls Magazine: Jewish Educational Curriculum. To support the creation of an educational curriculum for the Editorial Board and writers of its online magazine and growing community.

Project Director: Elizabeth Mandel; $20,000 (1 year).

Temple Israel of Boston, Boston, MA with local reach in the Greater Boston area. The Bridge: Deep Wisdom for Troubled Waters. To create and facilitate through The Riverway Project, The Bridge: Deep Wisdom for Troubled Waters, a Jewish spiritual resilience curriculum for Generation Z, Millennials, and the latter years of Generation X.

Project Director: Rabbi Jen Gubitz; $20,000 (1 year).


Since 1991, the Foundation has provided more than $31 million to support Jewish education in North America. Past grantees are highlighted on the Foundation’s website, and in Sight Line, the Foundation’s digital journal.

The Covenant Foundation is currently inviting 2018 Signature and Ignition grant applications. Visit for information and guidelines. The deadline for submitting an initial letter of inquiry is February 22nd, 2018.

The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies.