Your Daily Phil: Sheryl Sandberg displays her Jewish pride + A philanthropic couple starts a new accelerator for NYC nonprofits

Good Friday morning

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg posted to her 864,000 Instagram followers in support of Hillel International’s #OwnYourStar campaign, which encourages college students to publicly embrace their Judaism on social media.

“Antisemitism is on the rise around the world,” Sandberg wrote in a message that accompanied a photograph of a blue sweater adorned with a Star of David necklace. “Many Jews live and worship in fear every day. Fear of threats and abuse. Fear of violence. The subtle, nagging fear that we’re not welcome. I’m proud to be Jewish.”

UJA-Federation of New York conducted a survey of the Jewish community that revealed the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the emotional and financial health of many in the Jewish community. About 16% of respondents say their finances are worse now than before the pandemic, while 8% lost their job due to COVID.

More than a third of people dealing with violence in close relationships said that the pandemic exacerbated their situation, and 72% of people with substance abuse issues said their problem has worsened since 2019. The survey collected data from a sample of 4,400 New York-area adults who live in a Jewish household between February and May of 2021.


A philanthropic couple starts their own program to give small Jewish projects a boost


To many people, philanthropy and romance might seem a puzzling pairing — but it makes perfect sense to Jonathan and Dina Leader. They met at the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, married two years later and are now launching the Leader Accelerator, which will provide funding and advice to Jewish nonprofits or programs operating in New York City but struggling to fulfill their potential, Jonathan Leader told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. “The best way to look at this is that we want to help second-stage projects get to the next level,” he explained.

Awaiting applications: The Leaders will accept applications from both independent organizations and existing programs within larger ones that have been in existence for at least a year and have some proof of success. The couple had planned to select between five and 10 applicants for an initial grant of $10,000 to be made by Dec. 31, but are considering expanding the number of grantees, Jonathan said. In 2022, the Leaders will select at least four of the programs to receive between $15,000 and $25,000, giving preference to innovative programs that address critical needs.

Picking up the pace: Accelerators originated in the business world, where they evolved to support startup companies, and then spread to the world of philanthropy. They have become an especially popular way of connecting so-called impact investors, who are interested in both social and financial returns, to social enterprises in developing countries. In the Jewish communal world, UpStart — a nonprofit consulting firm for other organizations — offers several accelerator programs, including its Change Accelerator, which in January named 52 people to a program that will teach Jewish professionals entrepreneurial skills. The Orthodox Union’s Impact Acceleratoridentifies promising nonprofits and supports their growth. The Leaders’ accelerator is similar to the Legacy Heritage Fund’s Project Accelerate, which also focuses on second-stage projects.

Drawing on a DAF: Jonathan Leader, an independent investor who started his own firm, was familiar with the accelerator concept. He thought it could benefit the Jewish community in New York by giving especially promising groups or programs a chance to amplify their impact. He and Dina will fund the accelerator through a Schwab Charitable donor-advised fund (DAF) to which they are the sole contributors. 


Nonprofits are struggling to survive, organizational health tools can offer a lifeline


“As we enter the second autumn of the COVID-19 pandemic, our critical institutions that support our communities – the neighborhood nonprofits, social service agencies, schools, cultural and religious institutions and others – have yet to emerge from the precarious position they found themselves in last year. In fact, many are about to face the most perilous stretch yet,” write Kimberlee Schumacher and Shani Wilkes, staff professionals at Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

End of government money: “At the height of the pandemic, many nonprofits and local institutions made a hard pivot to support their communities through an unprecedented time of need. Assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan supported their vital work in 2020. Now, nearly 18 months later, those funds are about to dry up. The health and future of our communities hangs in the balance, as the strength of any given community relies upon the stable functioning and continued growth of the many organizations and institutions that collectively make up its communal infrastructure.”

Tool creation: “No single nonprofit alone can support an entire community, regardless of the strength of its balance sheet. As Massachusetts’s largest nonprofit and Greater Boston’s Jewish federation, we have a crucial role to play in assisting the many organizations that make up the community ecosystem so that they are positioned to operate successfully in good times, and weather any challenging periods, including responding to crises, effectively. At the start of 2019 we set out to create a tool for nonprofits and other local organizations to better understand their current organizations’ health status and prepare for a strong future. The resulting tool captures critical measures of health within the key areas of finance, leadership, governance, marketing, fundraising and operations.”

Read the full piece here.


Tired of gender talk? I’m not!


“I must admit, four years ago today, when I drove up to Towson University’s campus for the third time in my life, I thought I was a shoo-in and knew exactly what I would be doing as the executive director of a medium-size Hillel. Four years and many gray hairs later, I wonder: Do I know what I am doing yet?!” writes Lisa Bodziner, executive director of Towson University Hillel, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy. 

Many meetings: “I attended many meetings with the board chair before finally attending the first full board meeting. It was the first time I had actually run a board meeting. (Come to think of it, the only time I’d participated in one I was a featured staff presenter while serving in a previous position.) I don’t think I was clueless. But I do remember thinking, ‘Is every Jewish nonprofit organization board filled with this many dudes?’ When a woman (finally) walked into the board room, I remember thinking ‘Oh, thank goodness, a woman! And I love the dress!’”

Red flag: “Although I am an emotional and sensitive professional, I have always worked well with men. It didn’t occur to me until I completed one of my first local grant submissions that gender representation was imbalanced. One of the first questions on the application was: ‘What is the ratio of male to female board membership?’ I was embarrassed to complete that part of the grant. Good Lord! My board was dominated by men, but why did it matter? We were doing good work, growing, raising money, getting organized, who cared? Red flag! I knew my goal for the following years had to be to increase female leadership — STAT!”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Man On The Moon: Philanthropist Peter O’Donnell, Jr., who led what the University of Texas chancellor called “moonshot” advancements in the state’s higher education system, died at age 97 after giving away a total of $780 million, most of it anonymously, reports Michael Granberry in The Dallas Morning News. With his recently deceased wife of almost 70 years, Edith, the O’Donnell Foundation focused on education, creating 32 chairs in science and engineering and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering & Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. “Far more than donations, Peter challenged others to step up and set far-sighted priorities,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “His good works may never be repeated, but his vision and leadership can be emulated.” [DallasMorningNews]

Cash Fix: The decline in the U.S. poverty rate during the coronavirus pandemic, which is especially striking compared to its increase during the recession of 2008, can be attributed to philanthropy’s use of direct cash assistance to the extremely poor, states Bryan Walsh in an episode of Axios’ “Re:Cap” podcast. Philanthropy has been slowly getting comfortable with the idea as studies of money-transfer programs showed that their beneficiaries used the money for basic needs or to grow their assets. “Not only did poverty drop, we also saw hunger drop as well, and that was not what we were expecting when we saw the pandemic beginning to happen,” Walsh said. “Give money. That’s what works.” [Axios]

Between The Lines: A group of editors at Philanthropy Daily offers a critique of a new report by Deloitte’s Monitor Institute, which gives a glowing tribute to the effort by Los Angeles foundations to focus on supportive housing as a solution to homelessness — neglecting to mention the widespread sense in L.A. that the effort has failed. A 2020 report by Los Angeles’ city controller, Ron Galperin, found that the city’s homeless population had increased 45% since 2016. The Deloitte “commendation of philanthropy’s role addressing homelessness in L.A. is actually too eerily consistent with old ways of philanthropic thinking — getting at a perceived “root cause” with a fashionable “theory of change,” collaboratively with other bureaucratic elites in the philanthropic infrastructure’s clerisy,” the editors conclude. [PhilanthropyDaily]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion appointed Melissa Greenberg as vice president for institutional advancement and chief philanthropy officer effective Dec. 1… Lucy Bernholz, a senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, published a new book: How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us… The Council on Foundations’ annual survey, “Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report,” found that women, who consistently represent around 76 percent of full-time foundation staff, accounted for 60 percent of foundation leaders, up from 57.8 percent in 2020, but their median salary of $180,300 remained lower than that of their male peers, $215,870… The Israeli government will facilitate a merger between the Women’s International Zionist Organization’s NB Haifa School of Design and the University of Haifa’s School of the Arts… American Girl released a new set of doll outfits for various cultural holidays, including a Hanukkah ensemble with a Star of David necklace…

Pic of the Day


Singers Zhenya Lopatnik and Eva Salina performed last weekend in “Balkan Romani Meets Ukraine,” the second concert in the Mini-Global Mashups series held at Flushing Town Hall and curated by klezmer trumpeter Frank London.


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve (2014-2017), after an eight-year term at the helm of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer… 
FRIDAY: Real estate developer and owner of MLB’s Washington Nationals, Theodore N. “Ted” Lerner… Retired from the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1996, he is a mediator and arbitrator, Judge Jack Newman… Founder and dean of the Talmudic University of Florida in Miami Beach, Rabbi Yochanan Zweig… Media mogul and producer of Power Rangers, Haim Saban… President at Air Pegasus Heliport, Inc., Abigail Trenk… Miami-based mental health counselor and senior executive producer of the “My Survivor Film Project,” Mindy Hersh…. Owner of Los Angeles-based Harissa Restaurant, Alain Cohen… Founder and CEO of Refinement Services, Neil Kugelman… Former U.S. Treasury official, he is reported to have been the first Hasidic Jew to hold a Senate-confirmed administration position, now at the World Bank, Mitchell “Moyshe” Allen Silk… Founder and CEO of Olam Corp. and founding partner of Equalitas Capital, Andrew Fawer… Partner at Gotham Government Relations & Communications, Shai Franklin… Founder and chief executive of the global investment firm Citadel, Ken Griffin… Former press secretary to then-New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, now a political communications strategist, Stu Loeser… Director of tennis at Boca Bridges and former professional tennis player, Jesse Levine… SVP at SKDKnickerbocker, Elizabeth Kenigsberg… Second baseman on Israel’s National Baseball Team, Mitch Glasser… Director of strategic initiatives at the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai, Heiko Stoiber

SATURDAY: Israeli attorney, chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball, Shimon Mizrahi… Retired CFO of Amtrak, Midway Airlines and Airlines Reporting Corporation, Alfred Altschul… National president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton A. Klein… Film director and creator of “The Naked Gun” franchise, David Zucker… Professor of economics at Smith College, Andrew S. Zimbalist… Director of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Dr. Marvin C. Feuer… Director of Clark University Hillel, Jeff Narod… Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, David Linsky… Best-selling French novelist, Marc Levy… General partner at Battery Ventures Israel’s office, Scott Tobin… Actress Kala Lynne Savage… Professional basketball player for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, she has five Olympic gold medals, Sue Bird… Founder and CEO at Social Studies, Inc., Brandon Jared Perlman… Four-time U.S. Army light-middleweight boxing champion who boxed with a Star of David on his trunks, Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson… Senior product manager at The Washington PostJason Langsner… West Coast regional director at Foundation for Jewish Camp, Margalit C. Rosenthal… Deputy director of operations at NYC Health + Hospitals, Avi Fink… Assistant commissioner for external affairs at the New York City Police Department, Devora Kaye… Account executive at Joele Frank, Sam Ginsberg

SUNDAY: Rheumatologist and founder of the San Diego Arthritis Medical Clinic, Dr. Michael Keller… Rochester, N.Y., resident, Peggy Futerman… Movie and television producer, Lawrence Bender… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University and rebbe of the Talne Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky… Professor of economics at Harvard, he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Jeremy Chaim Stein… Northwest regional director of J Street, Andrew Straus… Ramsey, N.J.-based licensed professional counselor, Shemsi Prinzivalli… Co-founder of AQR Capital Management, Cliff Asness… Founder of Maniv Investments and Maniv Mobility, Michael Granoff… U.S. senator (D-NM), Martin Heinrich… CEO and founder of Crosscut Strategies, Kenneth Baer… Author and staff writer at The New YorkerAriel Levy… Head of U.S. public policy at TikTok, Michael Beckerman… Co-founder and CEO at Merit, Tomer Kagan… Deputy director of government relations at CARE, Katharine Nasielski… Executive director and co-founder at OpenMind Platform, Caroline Mehl… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Dalya Attar… Senior software engineer at Zocdoc, Adam Greenspan

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