Funding Supports Programs That Encourage Social Awareness, Involvement In Jewish Community
LOS ANGELES (Sept. 6, 2012)—The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) announced today it has awarded a total of $1.1 million in Cutting Edge Grants to five local nonprofit organizations whose programs seek to encourage engagement in the Jewish community, particularly among young adults, special needs children, and Jews who live on the East Side of Los Angeles.
Recipients of 2012 Cutting Edge Grants include Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center for Culture Lab; The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles in partnership with the PresenTense Group for PresenTenseLA: The Federation’s Social Entrepreneurs Fellowship; American Jewish University for Moledet; Remember Us for the Righteous Conversations Project; and Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services for the Vista Inspire Community Inclusion Program.
“Involving more people in Jewish activities and therefore enriching the Jewish community is one of the overarching goals of our Cutting Edge Grants,” said Foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland. “These five grant recipients represent some of the most compelling and dynamic approaches toward reaching those objectives, and are most deserving of our support. We look forward to seeing how they evolve over the next several years.”
Schotland said the Cutting Edge Grants, which began in 2006, are designed to encourage creative thinkers, social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations to develop and implement transformative programs of high visibility and impact in the Los Angeles Jewish community. Grantees can receive a maximum of $250,000 over three years. Since establishing the Cutting Edge Grants, The Foundation has seeded 52 programs with a total of more than $8.5 million.
Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center (SIJCC) has received a two-year, $250,000 grant to create a program called Culture Lab. Culture Lab produces a series of monthly events and short-term, structured collaborations among East Side local artists aimed at inspiring conversations about Jewish thought and tradition and encouraging involvement in the Jewish community.
“Culture Lab is a community-driven Jewish arts and culture series, made possible through the generous support of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles,” said SIJCC Associate Director Ayana Morse. “Over the next two years, six Labs will be convened, each around a common theme using different creative disciplines, such as theater, video or music. Members will collaborate to produce original work that will be presented at a public festival, engaging the East Side community—and the broader Los Angeles audience—in a dialogue about our shared history and culture.
“Through this and other programs, the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center will more firmly establish itself as the premier center for Jewish culture on the East Side of Los Angeles.”
PresenTenseLA: The Federation’s Social Entrepreneurs Fellowship
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with the PresenTense Group, received a three-year, $175,000 grant for PresenTenseLA to train and empower 36 NextGen entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to launch new social ventures that address the challenges facing the L.A. Jewish community. Over the last five years, the PresenTense Group has helped nearly 160 young Jews launch new projects in cities across the country and around the world.
Participants will attend monthly skill-building seminars and meetings in which small groups discuss ideas and challenges. Upon completion of the program, all fellows will have created a comprehensive business plan. Mentors and coaches will guide participants throughout the program, which will conclude with a launch night, when they present their venture to potential investors and partners.
Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson commented, “Los Angeles is blessed with the most innovative and creative talent pool in the country. We are delighted to partner again with The Foundation to launch PresenTenseLA in order to capitalize upon this talent from our local Jewish young adults. We are very excited about nurturing and training the next generation of entrepreneurs who will be shaping the Los Angeles Jewish community for years to come.”
American Jewish University is another recipient of a $250,000, three-year grant for Moledet (homeland), a year-long program for up to 75 young adults who have attended the Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel. The program’s goal is for Birthright alumni to build upon their newly created connection with Israel and Judaism, and channel their energy and passion back into the local Jewish community.
Moledet will offer a ten-day summer “Immersion Experience” for participants at the Brandeis-Bardin campus in Simi Valley, a mentoring program, book club and three community events each year. The summer session will include Jewish and Israeli history, society, philosophy and ethics; exploration of Jewish identity through culture and artistic expression; working the land and relating this to the kibbutz experience in Israel; and encouraging Israel advocacy and involvement in the local Jewish community.
Righteous Conversations Project
The Righteous Conversations Project, which received a three-year, $225,000 grant, brings together 400 teenagers with Holocaust survivors for meaningful dialogue focused on social awareness and one’s responsibility to speak up about injustice in today’s world. The Righteous Conversations Project is a program of Remember Us, which invites bar/bat mitzvah candidates to remember a child lost in the Holocaust. Through the Righteous Conversations Project, piloted at Harvard-Westlake School, students listen to survivor stories and connect them to contemporary injustices. They also develop public service announcements and other creative projects to promote greater awareness around social justice issues. Ten area schools are expected to participate during the grant period.
Vista Inspire Community Inclusion Program
A three-year, $200,000 grant went to Vista Del Mar’s Vista Inspire Community Inclusion Program that consists of bar/bat mitzvah learning, educator training and religious school integration for special needs children. The program equips five area synagogues with tools to include special needs children and families in their communities. It is a replication of the model program, Vista Inspire, currently conducted at Vista Del Mar to foster growth and development in socialization, spirituality and creativity for special needs youngsters and their families.
About The Foundation
Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles is the largest manager of charitable assets and the leader in planned-giving solutions for Greater Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. The Foundation currently manages assets of $737 million (as of Dec. 31, 2011) and ranks among the 11 largest Los Angeles foundations. In 2011, The Foundation and its more than 1,000 donors distributed $54 million in grants to hundreds of organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. For more information, visit www.jewishfoundationla.org.