The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey has announced a new name and revamped approach for allocating funds to innovative grassroots programs that otherwise might not be implemented.
The program, known as Opportunity Grants, succeeds two similar programs run by the Jewish federations of Monmouth and Middlesex counties. Before their merger to form the Heart of NJ federation in January, both organizations offered small but targeted grants to innovative projects, from a Hanukka light show for families to a three-day synagogue retreat for eighth- and ninth-graders (see box.)
“The value of Opportunity Grants is to ensure those ‘germs of ideas’ that can meet the community needs are funded in rapid fashion…through partnership and collaboration with federation,” said Adrienne Ross, vice president and chair of the federation’s Community Impact Committee. “Good ideas that can engage our community and make us stronger need to be supported. This is federation’s way of doing this.”
These efforts are being synchronized this year, along with other operations of the two former federations.
When the two federations were separate, Middlesex offered “micro-grants,” while Monmouth called its program the AdVenture Fund.
Beth Krinsky of Manalapan, former chair of the AdVenture Fund Committee and current chair of Opportunity Grants, said, “Middlesex had a rolling process last year. Monmouth did not. The limit for some of these grants is going up to $3,000. The funding in Monmouth was open to individuals who ran programs; in Middlesex only representatives of organizations and agencies could apply.”
The successor program will have two initiatives. One has an initial deadline of July 20 and the other will be rolling. Both have a cap of $3,000, and are open to individuals in addition to Jewish organizations and agencies, said Krinsky.
Starting in 2016, the federation will distribute all funding from January through December, said Laura Safran, the federation’s planning and allocations director.
“We are always on the lookout for programs that create buzz in the community and can attract participants from all sectors of the Jewish community,” said Krinsky.