Foundation Provides Funding for Innovation and Critical Needs

At a time when the needs of our community are changing rapidly and in unprecedented ways, different sources of funding are crucial in order for charitable organizations to respond effectively. The Jewish Community Foundation’s Unrestricted Grant Program complements the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign allocations process and Community Recovery Task Force by providing funding that encourages organizations to innovate and improve upon the services they offer to our community.

Of the many different types of funds managed by the Jewish Community Foundation, Unrestricted Funds provide the most flexibility to respond swiftly to unforeseen and sometimes monumental challenges, such as those we are currently facing. Rather than being designated to a specific cause or organization, Unrestricted Funds allow the Foundation to respond nimbly in order to best meet the unfolding needs of the community; they also support the Foundation’s Unrestricted Grant Program.

The Unrestricted Grant Program is unique, as it provides an opportunity for organizations to receive seed money to pilot new programs to meet emerging needs—initiatives that often fall outside the scope of funding opportunities provided through Jewish Federation’s allocations. The grant program was developed to encourage innovation, so that organizations can continue to improve their services and remain relevant as our community changes over time. Once these new programs prove successful over several years, they can then qualify for funding through Jewish Federation’s allocations. The diverse initiatives that have been supported in previous years are outlined here.

Our community is continuously evolving, and there is always a need for funding for new and innovative projects, but this year innovation looks quite different. Many of the applications for this grant cycle relate to new ways of delivering services in our current reality and reflect the need for funding in critical areas. Technological infrastructure upgrades to help keep our community safely connected in this new environment; COVID preparedness resources for organizations to adhere to safety measures, like proper sanitation and physical distancing; housing subsidies for community members who have experienced income instability due to the pandemic; and mental health support across many facets of our community are all key areas where funding is required. Aside from the ongoing need for food security, the Community Recovery Task Force identified these same critical areas after concluding their interviews with community organizations to assess where they have been hit the hardest since the start of the pandemic.

The Foundation’s chair, Diane Switzer, and executive director, Marcie Flom, are both involved with the Community Recovery Task Force, providing the Foundation with a wide-angle view of the emerging needs in our community. Alongside the task force, the Foundation is proud to extend support to community organizations in rising to the challenges of our present day and in getting new initiatives off the ground.

In the coming weeks, grant applications will be carefully reviewed by the Foundation’s Grant Distribution Committee, which is comprised of a diverse cross-section of community members. The grant applications will be assessed based on various criteria, including demonstrated need, breadth of impact on community, and innovation. The successful grant applicants will be announced next month.

Establishing an Unrestricted Fund, or making a contribution to one, is one of the best ways to support the ever-evolving needs of our community. Click here to contribute to an Unrestricted Fund or contact the Foundation today to get started.