Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Awards $2 Million in Cutting Edge Grants

LOS ANGELES —The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced $2 million in grants to eight new local Jewish initiatives focused on innovation.  This year’s Cutting Edge Grant recipients include a program engaging Jewish teens in providing literacy and enrichment opportunities to youth from underserved communities, support for L.A. families of lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and volunteer training for Jewish community members at a new, multifaceted social services center at Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

Established by The Foundation in 2006, the Cutting Edge Grants are multi-year awards of up to $250,000 given to creative thinkers, social entrepreneurs, and innovative organizations to develop and implement transformative programs of high visibility and impact in the local Jewish community.  These include both initiatives conceived in Los Angeles, as well as local iterations of programs piloted elsewhere.  Successful applicants must demonstrate the capacity and leadership to implement their initiative, that the program is unique and sustainable, and that it offers long-term benefits to Jewish Los Angeles.

Foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland stated: “Our new Cutting Edge Grant recipients are an inspiring group of social innovators whose vision and creative problem-solving skills are addressing critical needs in Jewish Los Angeles. Since the Cutting Edge Grants’ inception 12 years ago, we have awarded more than $17 million to over 90 transformative initiatives which are reimagining and shaping our local Jewish future. These efforts have touched the lives of tens of thousands across our communities, facilitated Jewish engagement throughout the city and fostered inclusion among groups who might otherwise not find their home within Jewish life.”

Recipients of 2017 Cutting Edge Grants include:

Families of Lone Soldiers for the Los Angeles Center

Families of Lone Soldiers (FLS) will receive $250,000 over three years to create a Los Angeles Center to provide emotional, social, mental health, educational and financial support to hundreds of Los Angeles families who have children serving as lone soldiers in the Israeli army.

Dr. Lawrence D. Platt, FLS founder and co-chair, stated: “The Los Angeles Center will be a place where parents, grandparents and siblings of lone soldiers serving in the IDF will be able to gather together to share their unique experiences and to support each other through the blessings and challenges of the IDF journey, connecting these families so they are no longer ‘alone’ and distanced from their soldier. We hope this center can become a model adapted by other national and international communities.”

Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for the Family Camp Pilot

A three-year, $250,000 grant was awarded to The Jewish Federation’s Family Camp Pilot to connect Jewish camps with Jewish early childhood centers and create meaningful camping experiences for families.

Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for the Y & S Nazarian Foundation Iranian Young Adult Outreach and Engagement Initiative

Through a grant of $250,000 over a four-year period, Jewish Federation’s initiative will engage young Iranian Jews with the larger young adult Jewish community through a coordinated effort of social, professional and volunteer programs. This effort was launched with major funding from the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation.

Karsh Family Social Service Center, Inc. for the Volunteer Engagement Project

Launched in 2016, the Karsh Family Social Service Center is an auxiliary of Wilshire Boulevard Temple and houses dozens of social service providers in a single location. Karsh Center is the recipient of a $250,000 grant over three years that will formalize its existing volunteer engagement program where volunteers help serve low-income clients in the surrounding community who visit the center located at Wilshire Boulevard Temple for food, legal and medical services. Funding will also expand the model throughout the L.A. Jewish community, engaging Jews of all ages in Jewish life through social service volunteer opportunities.

Elizabeth Ross, the Karsh Center’s executive director states: “The Karsh Center is built on a unique model of volunteer service delivery to assist anyone in need. The Foundation’s funding – which we are extremely grateful for – will allow us to expand our program, training, materials, support and outreach to any Jew in Los Angeles who wants to volunteer in a meaningful capacity via Karsh Center programs either onsite or in their own community.”

OneTable for the Los Angeles Launch

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in New York with hubs in other major U.S. cities, OneTable empowers Jewish young adults to foster connection and build community. A grant of $250,000 over three years enables OneTable to create a Shabbat dinner movement that will engage hundreds of young Jews in Los Angeles through an online platform that fosters a community of young adults more connected to one another and to their Jewish heritage. 

StandWithUs for the J.D. Fellowship

A three-year grant of $250,000 will go to StandWithUs, an international Israel advocacy organization, to launch a fellowship that includes educational workshops, a mission to Israel, culminating projects and semi-annual dinners for Jewish law students in L.A. They will learn how to use legal tools to defend Israel and become part of StandWithUs’s national network of hundreds of pro bono attorneys called upon to fight against anti-Semitism.

UpStart for Upstart LA

Awarded $250,000 over three years, Upstart LA will help Jewish organizations and leaders succeed in creating innovative, sustainable and impactful organizations that serve the needs of the Jewish community. The new local program includes: an “accelerator,” or series of intensive workshops focused on product-market fit, leadership, board governance, financial models and branding; long-term coaching; and innovation workshops for local Jewish organizations.

Wise Readers to Leaders for the Tikkun Olam Corps Program

The Tikkun Olam Corps Program – an initiative of Wise Readers to Leaders which was created in 2013 through the support of Stephen S. Wise Temple – was granted $250,000 over four years to scale up a pilot program that will engage hundreds of Jewish teens in year-round meaningful service learning opportunities with thousands of underprivileged youth.

Andrea Sonnenberg, co-founder and CEO of Wise Readers to Leaders states: “The Foundation’s Cutting Edge Grant enables our growing Tikkun Olam Corps of Jewish high school students to engage in an unmatched service learning experience that deeply and personally connects them with their Jewish values. Through the leadership of a professional Jewish educator and rabbi, we tie our teens’ experience to ancient texts and traditions emphasizing the historical role Jews have played to expand education and opportunity to communities in need.”

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 2016, The Foundation and its donors distributed over $81 million in grants to more than a thousand nonprofit organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. Over the past 25 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion in grants to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org