New Program to Ignite Community Collaborations


A new initiative will provide a financial incentive for Jewish communal organizations to work together to reach new audiences and better serve existing clients. Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in partnership with Jewish Learning Venture and the Kehillot of Greater Philadelphia, an alliance of synagogues, community volunteers and representatives from Jewish community organizations who work collaboratively to create an inspired Jewish community, will offer Ignition Grants of $10,000 to $15,000 to encourage synagogues and/or other Jewish agencies and institutions to form long-term, interactive collaborations.

Shari J. Odenheimer, chair of Federation's Policy, Strategy and Funding Committee, comments that "One of the major needs that we have in our Jewish community is strengthening our communal organizations and enabling them to reach out to more Jewish families." Odenheimer maintains that Jewish Learning Venture and the Kehillot were selected as partners of their deep and longstanding relationships with community organizations, and in particular with synagogues. "They are at the forefront of engaging families in Jewish life and learning, and empowering those who seek to build dynamic communities," she explains.

Rabbi Phil Warmflash, executive director of Jewish Learning Venture, concurs with Odenheimer's assessment and expresses great pride in joining forces with Federation on this important initiative. "Through our work in the Kehillot over the last two years, we have been able to both facilitate and see the growth of conversations around collaboration in response to the changing needs of our Jewish community," he says, adding that "Synagogues and institutions have found common ground through education, holiday celebrations, social action opportunities, shared resources and leadership development in ways that have strengthened the quality and experiences of community members and their institutions."

Both Odenheimer and Warmflash hope these Ignition Grants will serve as a catalyst and a tipping point for synagogues and other Jewish organizations to cross institutional lines and to collaborate in order to effect long-term change, for their own individual organizations as well as for the greater Jewish community. Grants will be awarded for projects that either: meet an unmet communal need or serve an underserved population; or align current services and programs offered by multiple institutions to help achieve greater efficiency, encourage innovation and enhance engagement.

Elana Rivel, associate director of Jewish Learning Venture, expresses optimism that "these grants will challenge institutions to 'think outside the box' in a more intentional, focused way. We would like to see proposals that address a broad spectrum of community needs for a variety of age demographics and we look forward to synagogues and other Jewish institutions thinking creatively about what they could accomplish through collaboration that they cannot on their own."

These collaborations must be ongoing rather than one-time programs and include two or more synagogues or Jewish Institutions. Grants are due by September 28. All applicants are required to: submit well-thought out proposals that include significant, tangible, long-term sustainability; set forth a general budget including anticipated income and expense; identify resources for 25 percent of the project; define measurable goals for each of three years; and demonstrate readiness to undertake the project when the grants are announced.

Conference calls are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8 and Tuesday, Aug. 21 at noon.

To participate, call 1-559-546-1000 and enter code: 106-9941.


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