Following much speculation about whether Sheldon Adelson will make good on tens of millions of dollars in pledges he made to Birthright Israel for 2009 and 2010, the Birthright Israel foundation officially announces his $20 million matching grant for 2009 and maintains that it will still send around 10,000 kids to Israel for free this year.
It is launching a grassroots fund raising effort in conjunction with the Adeslon gift.
Here is the release:
BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL TO SEND 10,000 THIS SUMMER;
NEW FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN SET TO BEGIN
NEW YORK — Following a successful winter program and a new commitment from the Adelson Family Foundation, Taglit-Birthright Israel is set to bring another 10,000 young Jews on free 10-day educational trips to Israel this spring and summer. Registration opens on February 19, 2009 online at www.birthrightisrael.com
This winter, Taglit-Birthright Israel brought all participants who were accepted for 2008/2009 winter trips—including its 200,000th participant to date—and now plans to launch a new national fundraising campaign that ensures not only its 2009 participant goals, but its continued success as the life-changing program prepares to enter its second decade.
In addition to ongoing support from its founding philanthropists, the State of Israel and from local Jewish communities, the Birthright Israel Foundation is pleased to announce a $20 million challenge grant from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson’s family foundation that will serve as the core of the new fundraising campaign, enabling the Birthright Israel Foundation to leverage other gifts. For every new dollar raised by the Birthright Israel Foundation in 2009, two dollars will be contributed by The Adelson Family Foundation up to $20 million. Recognizing that the global financial situation will create a challenging year for all non-profit organizations around the world, the Adelsons, along with Birthright Israel’s philanthropists, are asking supporters of Taglit-Birthright Israel, including alumni and their families, to assist the Foundation by providing increased funds to send young Jewish adults on trips to Israel.
The new fundraising campaign, intended to broaden and deepen the scope of fundraising nationally, will be led by Foundation Chair Daniel Och, the New York financier, and the Birthright Israel Foundation President Robert Aronson, working with a national team of experienced fundraisers. Arthur Paikowsky, the Foundation’s new senior vice president, overseeing development, will be responsible for the western part of the United States. He will work with veteran fundraisers Herb Tobin, who will oversee the northeastern U.S., and Ronni Amster, who will be responsible for fundraising in the southeastern part of the country. The mid-western campaign fundraiser will be announced soon.
"The goal of the new campaign is easy to understand, if challenging to achieve," says Och. "Bring more young Jews to Israel, and create a sustainability that will guarantee another 10 years for Birthright Israel and another quarter-million trips."
About the Birthright Israel Foundation:
The mission of the Birthright Israel Foundation is to encourage national support for the most ambitious and successful Jewish outreach program in history: the gift of a free trip to Israel for young Jews 18 – 26. The Foundation continues to support this investment in our Jewish future through its affiliation with Birthright Israel NEXT, a wide range of post-trip activities continuing the connection to Jewish history, identity and community for program alumni.