In August of 2013 the Jewish Federation and Foundation announced an aggressive $1,000,000 matching grant program aimed at energizing and growing the local Jewish community. The goal was for it to be a comprehensive effort, impacting an array of organizations and needs. In the last few days of 2013 the Federation and Foundation announced the completion of Tranche One of the program with the awarding of $500,000. Grants were distributed to 10 separate organizations.
The amount represents half of total grant monies. The remaining $500,000 is scheduled to be awarded during the first half of 2014. For many New Haven Jewish institutions the timing couldn’t be better. For the past five years the struggling economy has put many organizations in distress. Everything from roof replacements, stocking food pantries and capital improvements were put on hold. Now, agencies and synagogues receiving this first wave can accomplish much needed repair and revive, or expand, programs crucial to the community.
A few case studies demonstrate how meaningful this program is to the quality of life in greater New Haven. The first is Jewish Family Service of New Haven. Their goal was to expand the scope of their existing emergency food service into multi-functional, Food Pantry and Nutritional Health Clinic. “We felt we needed to not only reach more people who are vulnerable but also provide more services, both social and health related,” commented Executive Director, Jonathan Garfinkle. “This grant is truly a Godsend and statement of faith by the Jewish Federation and Foundation. We appreciate their investment in us so we can, in turn, assist those most in need.”
Another recipient, Westville Synagogue, found itself limited in the programs it could offer and months it could operate because of an antiquated air conditioner unit. In fact in June, July and August Westville was virtually uninhabitable. Even in September the doors still had to be kept open. Josh Hasbani, Westville’s President, said their system was over forty years old and beyond repair. “The cost of installing a new system was daunting but we knew we had to do something, we are the hub for social gatherings, weddings and family events. Our service to the community was being severely impeded.” The grant will enable Westville to provide a more comfortable environment that can function fully year round.
“Our situation was program related,” stated Josh Cohen, Executive Director of BBYO. Our mission is to provide a more meaningful Jewish experience for our teens. We need to keep them engaged. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a program around here in quite a long time.” The grant from the Jewish Federation and Foundation will correct that, allowing the organization to implement a specific BBYO Connect program in greater new haven for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
These are just a few examples of the positive changes the grant initiative is funding. Look for others to be announced early this year. A grants committee consisting of members from both the Foundation and Federation is administering the program and next round of grants. The initial awards are already going a long way to sustain existing services and bring in new ones for young and old.