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We are very pleased to share with you our 2019-20 / 5779-80 Annual Report today, which covers the fiscal year of April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. There is much to reflect on and celebrate, from achievements with our partners to reminders of pre-COVID times when we gathered together in person. It was a year that ended rather differently from how it began, and we hope you will take a few moments to look through it. To start you off, here is the Board Chair and CEO Report that opens the Annual Report.
Providing the Jewish community with stability and strong leadership through our community planning, fundraising, and convening roles took on a new level of importance this year, as did our partnerships with 35 local, national and international organizations.
While the 2019-2020 fiscal year began in typical fashion, it concluded just weeks after COVID-19 propelled our community into a “new normal.” Job loss and isolation began to take a toll immediately, especially on those members of our community who were already vulnerable. The demand for critical social services surged, threatening to overwhelm front-line agencies. In this region, already known for its high cost of living, those just able to get by were no longer able to pay their rent or put meals on the table.
In quick succession, nearly every local Jewish organization was forced to close its doors, and many lost their primary sources of revenue. Schools, synagogues, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), and others who could do so, began to deliver their programs online.
We immediately began convening with 14 groups of stakeholders representing the full breadth of community organizations to foster greater collaboration and innovative approaches, and to understand how best to address their most urgent needs. Then, in the course of a week, we released $505,000 to support immediate needs in the most critical areas, and provided initial funding to help our partner, Jewish Family Services, launch the Community Care Hotline.
The ways in which our partners were able to pivot to continue to serve our community were extraordinary, and we are incredibly proud to support their work year in and year out, as well as at this critical time.
The effects of COVID-19 will be felt for some time to come, and the reality is that our community will likely look different when the pandemic subsides. Fortunately, Jewish Federation and our partners are prepared to lead a comprehensive response that addresses the added layer of needs resulting from COVID-19, while continuing to make progress on the community’s ongoing strategic priorities.
Highlights of that progress include achievements in key areas, including those identified as being of importance for strategic investment: Jewish education, community security and infrastructure. We launched the Jewish Day School Council, chaired by Hodie Kahn, which will focus on sustainability of the day schools. Our Community Security Advisory Committee, chaired by Bernard Pinsky, helped secure over $225,000 from the Federal SIP program to support upgrades to our partner agencies’ security. We also held security training sessions for 160 community members.
We were also very pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with the JCC to collaborate on the proposed JCC site redevelopment plan, which is expected to be the largest investment the local Jewish community has ever made in a single project. In addition to the new JCC, the site redevelopment is expected to add new mixed-use rental housing units, expanded childcare, seniors' services, cultural spaces and amenities to the city. The JCC’s location in the heart of Oakridge is central to the City of Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor Plan.
Planning for our community’s future is an area of our work that is critically important, and we are able to undertake it successfully because of three factors. First, we are in a unique position as an organization not just to look ahead but to take a very broad view. Second, we bring together dozens of partners that each do important parts of the work. Third, we can do work like this because donors support it—and so much more—through the Federation Annual Campaign.
Our fundraising efforts remained strong, with the 2019 Annual Campaign, led by campaign chair Jonathon Leipsic, generating over $8.9 million dollars. Funds raised in this campaign will be distributed locally, nationally and in Israel during the 2021 allocations cycle, which will take place next summer. This is part of the two-year local allocations cycle that we established after the 2008 economic downturn in order to provide greater predictability to our partners, and to provide a measure of protection in the event of unanticipated fluctuations.
In addition, we worked with donors throughout the year to generate special project funding—above and beyond their Annual Campaign gifts—to support high-priority community needs aligned with our 2020 Strategic Priorities. Combined, the total generated this fiscal year was over $10.3 million.
The Jewish Community Foundation continues to play an increasingly important role in our community, and we are very proud to see the impact they are making. The Foundation, in partnership with its fund holders, continued to provide critical funding to address community needs today and into the future, distributing $2.7 million in grants.
New this year, was that together with our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, we had the privilege of honouring the McLean family at the Words & Deeds Leadership Award Dinner. We facilitated $450,000 in donations generated through the gala to support local and national advocacy activities.
Providing a full picture of the 2019-20 fiscal year includes presenting our audited financial statements, which will take place at our Annual General Meeting in September, after a delay due to COVID-19. They will then be available on our website.
While we typically look back in an Annual Report, this year we must also look ahead. Our community will likely experience challenges, the likes of which we have not seen before. Jewish Federation’s central role working with our partners has never been more important. While our strong planning, convening and fundraising achievements position us and our partners for ongoing success, more resources will still be needed to address increased community needs related directly to COVID-19–and Jewish Federation will be here to lead the way.