Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Awards $2 Million in Cutting Edge Grants to Launch 7 Innovative Programs

LOS ANGELES—The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced $2 million in grants to seven innovative, local initiatives focused on transforming Jewish Los Angeles.

This year’s Cutting Edge Grant recipients will receive multi-year seed funding to address the critical needs of a diverse Jewish community and beyond, that includes: increasing support for mental health and wellness services for college students; investing in young women’s professional development; empowering LGBTQ+ and individuals with special needs as leaders; and building opportunities for faith communities to address the homelessness epidemic in Los Angeles, among others.

Foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland stated: “This year’s Cutting Edge Grant recipients reflect our commitment to supporting social innovation as a pathway to empowering diverse voices and capabilities in our community. At their core, what each project addresses is both unique to our community and cuts across our city and nation – from the rising mental health needs of college students, to the housing crisis, to the importance of engaging more voices in leadership. Collectively these grants draw attention to these challenges, and point a spotlight on the forward-thinking community leaders who are tackling those issues. We look forward to watching these programs grow and thrive in the coming years and serve as models of innovation and community engagement.”

Recipients of 2019 Cutting Edge Grants include:

Community Legal Aid SoCal in partnership with the Jewish Divorce Assistance Center for Safe and Healthy Jewish Families Project will receive $300,000 over three years to provide supportive services, protective orders, and civil and religious divorce assistance to Jewish survivors of abuse, helping survivors and their families leave abusive situations.

Jewish Graduate Student Initiative for Jewish Executive Women's Leadership will receive $270,000 over five years to empower female Jewish graduate students and young professionals by building an innovative leadership program, exclusively by women and for women, that includes mentorship, leadership training, education, and community service.

RespectAbility for Project Moses: LA Jewish Leaders with Disabilities Program will receive $300,000 over three years to mentor and empower college-educated Jewish individuals with disabilities to serve in leadership positions at Jewish organizations, and train Jewish organizations on inclusive organizational practices, ensuring that all Jews’ voices are represented and heard in the Los Angeles Jewish nonprofit community.

"With The Foundation’s support, RespectAbility will be able to launch Project Moses, a training and placement program for talented Jews with disabilities to serve the Jewish community of greater Los Angeles. Project Moses will be a win-win for Jews with disabilities and L.A.’s Jewish community overall,” said Matan Koch, who will serve as director and lead the implementation of Project Moses in L.A. A wheelchair user, Koch is a national leader on disability inclusion.

Safe Parking LA for Jewish Community Safe Lots will receive $300,000 over three years to engage synagogues and their members in providing safe parking options and supportive services for individuals living in their vehicles, deepening the importance of social justice work within the Jewish community while combating homelessness in Los Angeles.

“The Cutting Edge Grant will enable Safe Parking LA (SPALA) to advance its work with people living in their vehicles which it had already begun at [the spiritual community] IKAR,” said Scott Sale, M.D., SPALA executive director and co-founder. “This grant will also enable SPALA to broaden the Safe Parking concept into other synagogues within Los Angeles City and County as it attempts to provide refuge and connect the 15,000 persons presently living in vehicles.”

SVARA for SVARA Los Angeles will receive $260,000 over three years to launch the first queer-focused Talmud learning program in Los Angeles for the queer community and allies. SVARA’s immersive learning experiences will strengthen and empower the next generation of Jewish leaders and scholars.

Trybal Gatherings for Trybal Gatherings LA will receive $270,000 over three years to provide immersive overnight Jewish camp experiences in Los Angeles for Jews in their 20s and 30s, reaching disconnected young adults and building a pipeline to ongoing Jewish communal involvement.

USC Hillel for The Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative will receive $300,000 over three years to support one of the first Hillels in the country to launch a health and wellness program that will provide Jewish college students with mental health services, wellness workshops, and individualized counseling and support. The program is intended to decrease mental health crises among Jewish students and increase the number of unaffiliated Jewish students who come to Hillel as a result.

“The Jewish Community Foundation’s visionary investment in the holistic wellness of our students will provide Jewish Trojans with personal support through stress and trauma, expansive resources to promote balance and mindfulness, and leadership to address the stigma around mental health and well-being on campus,” said Dave Cohn, USC Hillel’s Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director.

About Cutting Edge Grants

Established by The Foundation in 2006, Cutting Edge Grants are multi-year awards of up to $300,000 given to social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations to develop and implement programs of high visibility and impact in the L.A. Jewish community. These include both initiatives created in Los Angeles, and local launches of programs operating elsewhere. Successful applicants must demonstrate their capacity and leadership to implement the initiative, that the program is unique and sustainable, and that it offers long-term benefits to Jewish L.A. To date, $21 million in Cutting Edge Grants have been distributed to more than 100 programs.

About The Jewish Community Foundation

Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion entrusted to it by over 1,300 families and ranks among the 10 largest Los Angeles foundations. It partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of their giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. In 2018, The Foundation and its donors distributed $115 million in grants to 2,700 nonprofits with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. Over the past 15 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org