BY EMMA PULLEY
Associate Director, Administration & Planned Giving
This winter, the mailbox at the Life & Legacy office overflowed with ballots. Passionate young philanthropists made their voices heard through submitting their votes for the Next Gen Grantmaking Initiative – through the B’nai Tzedek program offered through the former Jewish Community Foundation. The vote tallies changed daily with each returned ballot that was received. The voting was done blindly so that each fund holder’s response was based on their charitable values – with options ranging from youth empowerment to school-based technology or Jewish family education.
The goal of the B’nai Tzedek program is to develop the next generation of philanthropists. The Next Generation Grant Making Initiative was launched in December of 2018 at the Hey B’nai event held at Manifest Distilling. Eleven Jewish Agencies, synagogues and schools were invited to submit a one-page grant proposal. Congregation Ahavath Chesed sought to increase outdoor lighting for higher safety and security outcomes, DuBow Preschool submitted a proposal for an interactive outdoor play center, Etz Chaim Synagogue sought support for the Jewish Student Union, Jewish Community Alliance submitted a proposal for a theatre program called Just Like Me, Jewish Family & Community Services sought support for school-based inclusion for students with special needs to be able to experience a Jewish Education, the Jacksonville Jewish Center submitted a proposal for family education, Jewish Federation of Jacksonville proposed a Young Leadership Initiative, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School applied for a Peace Garden, River Garden Senior Services submitted for a biblical garden, and Torah Academy sought a STEM-based learning grant to support technology. All of these programs deserve funding and the need is great but with funds available for only three grant awards, the proposals with the most votes, receive this grant.
We are thrilled to announce our B’Nai Tzedek Next Gen Grant award recipients, TIED with 37% of the vote each: Jewish Community Alliance for Just Like Me, a theatre program serving hundreds of children and teaching justice and celebrating diversity; Jewish Family & Community Services for their school-based inclusion program which increases access to Jewish Education for special needs children; and the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville for a young leadership development program through the Bridges Leadership Initiative, which will help grow tomorrow’s Jewish leaders. These agencies are receiving $5,000 a year for three consecutive years for their proposed programs.
This exciting new grantmaking initiative was designed to create a stronger sense of ownership and connection for our young philanthropists. And it doesn’t end with the voting – each winning agency will provide annual grant reports to our fund holders and mitzvah days will be organized to give them the opportunity to see their dollars in action. With over 320 current fund holders, we have a growing group of motivated and interested young adults who are dedicated to the mitzvah of tzedakah and are passionate about their communities.
Thank you to the Young Philanthropy B’nai Tzedek account holders and to all who took the time to vote and learn more about the needs within our Jewish community.