Navajos, Chicanos, Women, Interfaith Project Among 13 Recipients of Grants from Jewish Fund for Just

The Navajo Nation in Arizona, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs in Chicago, and the Southern California Interfaith Project in Los Angeles, are three of the 13 recipients of the first round of grants provided by the newly formed American Jewish grantmaking foundation, Jewish Fund for Justice.

The Fund, based in Washington, D.C., is designed to provide an outlet for American Jews to respond to issues of poverty in the United States. The Fund “offers American Jews a Jewish context for expressing our traditional passion for social justice,” said Si Kahn, acting Board chairman and director of the Grassroots Leadership Project in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lois Roisman, the Fund’s executive director, said the grants are not intended to compete with existing philanthropic efforts within the Jewish community, but to serve as a supplement to those efforts. “We are funding groups that are trying to change the circumstances that keep them poor,” she said.

Roisman explained: “Rather than delivering health services to the elderly in Montana, we are funding a group that is trying to get the Medicare payments to account for full services. We are dealing with causes rather than consequences.”

The 13 grants, totalling some $37,000, are to support efforts “toward social change by forging an unusual partnership,” according to the Fund. The grant of $10,000 to the Navajo Nation in Flagstaff, for example, will provide funds to bring a team of Israeli agricultural consultants to the Painted Desert to assist with the adaption of Israeli techniques of drip irrigation and intensive crop production programs.

The total one-year project in the Painted Desert, is expected to cost around $150,000. To meet these additional costs, the Fund today announced the establishment of the Tu B’Shvat Fund within the foundation to receive additional contributions for the project.

Three of the 13 grants are challenge grants. For example, the Fund provided a challenge grant to the Chicago Jewish community for the Task Force on Community Economic Development of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs which works with minority businesses and community organizations in low income areas to leverage economic development and the creation of new jobs.

In Los Angeles, a challenge grant has been provided for the Los Angeles Jewish community for the Southern California Interfaith Hunger Project which works with local groups on the issue of hunger, including advocacy, education and coordination of joint community efforts.

The third challenge grant — to be matched by members of the local Jewish community — is in Philadelphia for the city’s Jubilee Project. The project includes the work of a group of interdenominational leaders using a capital revolving loan fund for community based enterprises, creating new employment opportunities and new ownership among low income people.

NATURE OF OTHER GRANTS

The eight other grants were to For the Love of Children in Washington, D.C., an advocacy center for the rights and interests of children in the custody of the District of Columbia; JONAH in Jackson, Tennessee, an organization comprising low and moderate in come Blacks working to improve Black neighborhoods and to increase representation of Blacks on city and county government committees.

The Minnesota Citizens Organizations Acting Together, or COACT, working on a broad range of social and economic issues affecting rural Minnesota, received a grant from the Fund as did the Mississippi Action for Community Education group based in Geenville, a community economic development corporation working to bring social and economic benefits to the rural poor of the Mississippi Delta.

Other grants were provided to the Montana Senior Citizens Association in Helena, the Poor People’s United Fund in Boston; the Saguache County Community Council in Center, Colorado; the United Passaic Organization in New Jersey; and Women in the Work Force in Highpoint, North Carolina.

The Fund is described as the first national Jewish grantmaking organization devoted solely to supporting efforts in the community at large that nurture social and economic justice in the U.S.

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