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JFN awards $1.5 million in grants to Israeli environmental orgs

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The Jewish Funders Network and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund have awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to Israeli nonprofit environmental organizations,

The 24 grants will go to 13 organizations and were part of a matching grant program initiated by the Goldman fund. The fund put up $750,000 to match gifts of between $25,000 and $50,000 made by donors who were giving to Israeli environmental projects for the first time. In total, the JFN found 35 philanthropists to make first-time donoations to environmental causes, according to a JFN press release.

The 13 organizations received grants of between $50,000 and $250,000.

Recipients include: Bustan, Derech Hateva, EcoOcean, Ecopeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership, Israel Green Building Council, Link to the Environment, Movement for Israeli Urbanism, Project Wadi Attir, Shahaf Community Development Center, Sviva Israel, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and The Sheli Fund.

“For many years, few other funders took an interest in Israel’s environment,” the president of the Goldman fund, Richard Goldman, said.  “We saw this matching gift as a means to energize funders to consider environmental projects in Israel and draw attention to the innovation that is driving new solutions there.”

Here’s the press release:

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$1.5 million Awarded to Support Environmental Causes in Israel

New York, NY; September 9, 2009 ── The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) recently awarded 24 grants to 13 non-profit Israeli environmental organizations in a matching grants initiative sponsored by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, generating more than $1.5 million for the Israeli environmental movement.

In March 2009, The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, a major funder of environmental issues worldwide and a leading funder of the cause in Israel, partnered with JFN and announced that it was offering $750,000 in matching grants to support environmental causes in Israel “For many years, few other funders took an interest in Israel’s environment.” Said Richard N. Goldman, President of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.  “We saw this matching gift as a means to energize funders to consider environmental projects in Israel and draw attention to the innovation that is driving new solutions there.”

The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, based in San Francisco, stipulated that it would provide between $25,000 to $50,000 in matching funds to donors making first-time gifts for the environment in Israel or to a funder willing to double a previous donation to the Israeli environmental movement.

Despite the harsh economic climate and deep cutbacks in grantmaking, JFN received more than 35 applications from independent philanthropists, private and public foundations during the six-month period that the matching grant program was open. More than two-thirds of the applicant donors were first time funders of the issue and more than a third were Israeli funders. “Time and again we see that even in a tough environment funders will respond to opportunities to accomplish more with their money,” said Mark Charendoff, JFN’s President. “Leveraging funds makes a lot of sense when you need to do more with less.”

The 13 recipient organizations in Israel, which each received between $50,000 and $250,000 through the initiative, are small, dynamic groups, most with an annual operating budget of under $500,000. The awarded grants will fund a wide range of projects including a transboundary environmental park on both sides of the Jordan River, endorsed by Israeli and Jordanian governments and an institute to train Israeli mayors in environmentally sustainable urban development “This is more than just a grant to fund a community center,” said Ra’ed Al-Mickawi  of Bustan, which received funds to  build an environmental community center in a Bedouin village, built in the traditional technique of mud building. “An Ecological Community Center is a first step in transforming the Negev into not only an environmentally ‘green’ region, but also into a socially ‘green’ area – where all people, regardless of their ethnicity, can thrive.”

The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund said it is proud to have brought more attention and support to Israeli environmental groups.  “We are very pleased by the success of the program, and hope that Jewish funders will continue to support the environment in Israel,” Goldman said. “Many environmental organizations in Israel operate on mere shoestring budgets.  Funding is a constant worry.  This infusion of support will undoubtedly ease the strain on many organizations and allow them to concentrate on carrying out their projects.”

The full list of grantees includes:
Bustan
Derech Hateva 
EcoOcean   
Ecopeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East     
Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership  
Israel Green Building Council 
Link to the Environment
Movement for Israeli Urbanism 
Project Wadi Attir    
Shahaf  Community Development Center
Sviva Israel  
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies 
The Sheli Fund

This is the seventh successful matching grant program run by JFN. Past initiatives have generate over $63 million to support Jewish day schools, services for Jewish elderly poor, Israeli non-profit organizations, Jewish summer camps, and Israel advocacy organizations.

“The overwhelming success of our matching grants initiative and the response from so many first time donors shows that this is a tremendous tool for leveraging money and inspiring new philanthropy, “ Charendoff said. “The environmental sector in Israel, in particular, is an area where there is both great need and great potential for generosity.  I am proud that JFN members rose to the occasion.  About Jewish Funders Network
Jewish Funders Network is an international organization of family foundations, public philanthropies, and individual funders dedicated to advancing the quality and growth of Jewish philanthropy. JFN’s members include independent philanthropists, foundation trustees and foundation professionals – a unique community that seeks to transform the nature of Jewish giving in both thought and action.
 
About the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
The mission of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund is defined by the legacy and values of the foundation’s founders. These include a strong connection to the local San Francisco community and California, a lifelong concern about the environment, and a deep and unwavering commitment to the Jewish people and Israel.
 

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