Federation doubles grant money for ‘maximum’ impact

Federation doubles grant money for ‘maximum’ impact

Cheryl Minkoff of Highland Park, facing the camera, hugs a client of Amit Shikum, who talked about recovering from mental illness to members of a federation mission.
Cheryl Minkoff of Highland Park, facing the camera, hugs a client of Amit Shikum, who talked about recovering from mental illness to members of a federation mission.

The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey doubled its allocations for overseas targeted grants in an effort to impact the lives of Jewish children. 

The federation set aside $215,000 to disburse among 12 Israeli non-profits helping young people under 18. $25,000 more is earmarked for a similar charity, which has yet to be determined, in Europe. The total is double what was allotted the previous year. 

Another allocation of $240,000 has been earmarked for the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“We thought this was the best way to make maximum impact,” said federation community relations manager Dan Rozett. “We didn’t want to feel our contributions were just being swallowed up by a big organization.” 

Although the money was set aside in the 2016 budget, it is being distributed in 2017. Each entity will receive 50 percent of their allocation when the distribution begins, but must submit an evaluation report several months later to receive the remainder.

“Last year we distributed a little here and a little bit there,” said federation director of community impact Laura Safran. “This year we gave to organizations where we felt we could have a big impact.” 

Among the programs being funded is the Israel National Council for the Child which is receiving $15,000 to help sexually abused children. 

“The program uses law students or those who have just graduated from law school who have volunteered to assist these children through the legal process, like a legal buddy,” said Rozett. “They serve as a companion because of the psychological damage these kids have endured, and will chaperone them to their court date.”

ZAKA, whose volunteers respond to terror attacks, accidents, and disasters, will receive $25,000 for a program teaching at-risk youth to train search and rescue dogs.

“This is a very cool program empowering these kids,” said Rozett. “When you train a dog you have to be dominant and disciplined. They take these kids with no discipline or direction and train them to train a dog to save someone’s life. Once they complete the course, these kids leave knowing they had a part in saving a life.”

The maximum total budget for each recipient organization is $2.5 million, and any single funded program’s budget cannot exceed $500,000, said Rozett. Grants were capped at $30,000. 

To interest applicants, federation sent e-mails to 235 overseas contacts, and 75 to 80 applied. Federation leaders whittled down the list, eliminating those who didn’t meet the criteria. The remaining applications were turned over to the federation’s foreign allocations committee, which made the final decisions. 

“We decided we really want to focus on youth and find programs that will really benefit young people,” said Ken Philmus, who co-chaired the allocations committee with Arlene Frumkin. 

He said each of the grant requests was rated on a scale of one to five based on how the program fit the committee’s criteria.

“We felt really good about this after we were done,” he said. “We’re helping kids from broken homes, those at-risk, and helping educate others.”

Other recipients include: Amit Shikum, $18,000, vocational rehabilitation of those with mental illness; Crossroads, $25,000, crisis management for homeless teens; Eden Association, $20,000, therapeutic residence for female victims of neglect and abuse; Ethiopian National Project, $5,000, scholastic assistance for seventh-12th graders; Gesher el Noar, $15,000, promoting academic achievement and Jewish identity; Kedma, $15,000, providing at-risk youth with educational assistance and support; Keren Gimmel, $18,000, informal education for disadvantaged children, and providing lunch, supplies, and clothes; Reut Sderot, $25,000, afterschool club for at-risk youths; Shutoff, $18,000, vocational training for children with disabilities; and Tahel, $16,000, teacher training in workshops to prevent sexual abuse. 

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