Jewish Women’s Foundation celebrates 20 years of bold, innovative grantmaking

Jewish Women's Foundation image
JWF Steering Committee Members. Front Row: Stephanie Victor, Stephanie Smerling, Nancy Kohn, Gerri Kahnweiler, Gwen Heyman. Back Row: Shari Slavin, Jennifer Flink, Ilene Novack, Linda Simon, Adrienne Kriezelman, Debbie Marcus, Debby Karton, Jen Lucas, Lori Komisar Not Pictured: Annette Lidawer, Susan Rifas, Sheri Hokin, Dana Hirt, Debbie Oberman, Linda Schiffman. (Photo by Lindsey Bissett)

Following in 20 years of philanthropic tradition, the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (JWF) has awarded $348,400 to 24 outstanding projects that improve the lives of Jewish women and girls in Chicago and around the world. 

With more than 350 trustees and a pledged endowment of over $9 million, JWF-an independent project of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago- has awarded $3.7 million to 160 projects since its inception to improve opportunities in all aspects of Jewish women's and girls' lives. In particular, the Foundation looks to support innovative projects on the forefront of social change.

"JWF has always been at the forefront of social change," said Nancy Kohn, JWF Chair. "We are proud that over the past 20 years, we have consistently been at the cutting-edge of philanthropy. Each year, we work to strategically provide support to organizations that impact women and girls. I'm honored to sit at the table with a group of informed, passionate Jewish women determined to be change-makers."

Operating as a large-scale giving circle, JWF empowers Jewish women as leaders, funders, and decision-makers by mobilizing the collective power of the women who participate. Together, the Foundation's grants fund strategic projects that create social change at the individual, communal and institutional levels. Areas of impact focus on justice, equality, and empowerment for women and girls locally and across the globe.

"JWF has a long legacy of meeting the needs of our changing community as they arise, and our docket this year reflects that," said Annette Lidawer, JWF Grants Chair. "At a time when issues facing women and girls seem more urgent than ever, I'm proud and grateful to be able to take action through this giving circle. The programs we are supporting this year are doing absolutely critical work protecting women and girls' rights and building up confidence and well-being, and I am so pleased to be able to help make that possible."

The 2017 docket includes funding for eight new projects and nine renewal projects. This year's total also includes multi-year grants and grants from The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (see sidebar)

A sample of JWF's new grantees for 2017 include:

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS):  SOSS builds trust, respect, and relationships between American Muslim and Jewish women. Together, the women commit to limit acts of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment, stand up to hate against one another, and engage in social justice work. The Regional Facilitation Workshop will use interfaith experts and consultants to train local Jewish and Muslim leaders in facilitation skills, philosophies and best practices so they can in turn lead interfaith dialogue in SOSS's 14 Chicagoland chapters. 

jGirls Magazine: jGirls Magazine is an online community and magazine written by and for self-identifying Jewish girls ages 13-19. Content is created by teens, and curated by a teen Editorial Board.  This gives them the opportunity to hone their communication skills, share their challenges and victories, explore identities, talk across differences, and engage with a community of peers on their own terms. In providing this forum for expression and exploration, jGirls contributes to long-term social change in the Jewish community by cultivating the next generation of bold, committed Jewish female leaders. 

Olim Beyahad:  Olim Beyahad increases the employment rate among Ethiopian Israeli university graduates by promoting their integration into the forefront of Israel's workforce and giving them an equal opportunity to gain appropriate jobs that suit their education level. By integrating female participants into leading jobs, they become role models for Ethiopian Israeli women and wider society, while empowering the Ethiopian Israeli community, eliminating stereotypes and racism in Israeli society, and facilitating the community's complete integration into Israeli society.  

New grants have also been awarded to the Center for Women's Justice, the Shatil-New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change, Women of the Wall, Tahel - Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children: Victim Advocacy Program, and the ACLU -- Roger Baldwin Foundation: Women's Reproductive Rights Project. 

In addition, JWF is funding the second year of a multi-year grant to the Jewish Women's Funding Network, to support collaborative and effective efforts for women's rights and gender equality in Israel with a focus on labor rights. 

JWF renewal grants include: ATZUM - Justice Works:  Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT); Mavoi Satum:  Supreme Court Appeals Department: Advancing Change in the Realm of Personal Status in the State of Israel; SHALVA, Inc.:  Legal Liaison Program ; Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Research Training Internship ; Project Kesher:  Next Gen: If Not Now, When? ; Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar:  Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change ; Bishvilaych :  The Israel Breast Health Awareness Program ; The Eden Center:  Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikveh Attendants ; and the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center:  Sexual Assault Testimony Project.

About The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago

Ellen H. Block, a founding Lifetime trustee of the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and its first "Women Moving Millions" member, established The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago in 2013 with the first $100,000 of her multi-year Women Moving Millions pledge to JWF. The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago supports causes, issues, initiatives, and programs that promote safety, security, equal rights, equal voice and equal opportunities for girls and women.

The Jewish Women's Foundation is an independent project of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. For more information, visit http://www.juf.org/jwf/.

Grants awarded through the Ellie Fund for 2018 include:

Girl Forward:Enhancing Education and Mentoring for Refugee Girls in Chicago

Challenge Grant: Up To $10,000. GirlForward is a community of support dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunity for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution. This grant supports a Chicago Engagement and Education Specialist for Girl Forward's Mentoring Program, which connects at-risk refugee girls with volunteer mentors.

 

Hillel the Right to Choose: Support for Ex-Haredi Women, Single Mothers and Children

Grant Amount: $20,000. Hillel serves the community of Yotzim (those who leave ultra-Orthodoxy to enter secular Israeli society) with counseling and community building services. This grant supports ex-Haredi Israeli women, single mothers and their children through Weekend Retreat Workshops and Single Mother Legal Aid.

 

Midwest Access Project (MAP): General Operating Support

Renewal Grant Amount: $10,000. As a Midwestern hub for training and advocacy, MAP fills gaps in medical education and clinical training, and reduces barriers to care. MAP restores reproductive health care options where none or too few exist in Illinois, and elsewhere in the Midwest, by training and supporting health care professionals willing to provide the vital services their patients need. This grant provides general operating support for MAP's ongoing programs: 1) Individual Clinical Training; 2) Provider and Community Education; and 3) Regional Collaboration.

 

NATAL Israel Trauma & Resiliency Center : Empowering Women: Training Early Childhood Teachers to Become Leaders, Influencers, and Important Community Resources

Grant Amount: $20,000. NATAL delivers a unique, multidisciplinary model of psychological support to victims of terror and war in Israel. The Empowering Women program provides early childhood educators in Israel with the skills and knowledge to help children and their families impacted by the trauma of war and terror, while simultaneously acting as advocates for trauma awareness and resiliency.

 

Paamonim: Economic Empowerment for Single Mothers

Challenge Grant: Up To $15,000. Through financial education workshops and one-on-one coaching, this program provides single Israeli mothers with the knowledge, skills, and behavior changes needed to manage their own finances, repay debts, and make wise purchasing decisions, increasing their economic responsibility and promoting financial independence.

 

University of Chicago Medicine: WomanLab

Grant Amount: $23,000 (second year of two-year grant). The WomanLab project seeks to provide much-needed access for all women and girls affected by cancer to scientifically accurate, relevant, and actionable information about preserving and recovering female sexual function. WomanLab is the first online medical dissemination platform providing women affected by cancer, and their physicians, the critical information they need to preserve, optimize and advocate for female sexual function and overall health and well-being.

The following are detailed descriptions of the 2017 JWF grants:

Economic Security/Legal Reform for Women & Girls
ACLU --   Roger Baldwin Foundation:  Women's Reproductive Rights Project

Grant Amount: $20,000.   The ACLU operates a multi-faceted initiative to protect and defend the IL Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which provides patient protections surrounding reproductive health care. The Women's and Reproductive Rights Project is a multi-year initiative to shift the conversation around religious restrictions on health care through advocacy, strategic litigation, message development and refinement, earned media, and broad public outreach.

 

ATZUM - Justice Works:  Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT)

Renewal Grant Amount: $15,000.   The Task Force on Human Trafficking engages the public, government, and enforcement agencies to confront and eradicate sex trafficking and lobbies for reform in the areas of prevention, border closure, protection of escaped women, and prosecution of traffickers, pimps and Johns. 

 

Center for Women's Justice (CWJ):  Public Interest Litigatio, and Outreach Project: Tackling the Issues at the Root of Get Abuse

Grant Amount: $20,000.   CWJ's Public Interest Litigation and Outreach Project tackles the root of  get  abuse and systemic injustice against women in Israel through precedent-setting civil litigation-bolstered by educational outreach and public awareness activities. 

 

Mavoi Satum:  Supreme Court Appeals Department: Advancing Change in the Realm of Personal Status in the State of Israel

Renewal Grant Amount: $22,500.   The Supreme Court Appeals Department works to create a legal civil track for marriage in Israel by passing legislation allowing for civil marriage and divorce that will significantly reduce discrimination against women in Israel. The specialized department creates new precedents that effect positive and long-lasting change, and exposes discrimination and injustice within the Chief Rabbinate.

 

Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar:  Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change

Renewal Grant Amount: $20,000.   Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change provides legal assistance to Jewish women who are victims of domestic violence; creates and distributes information to the community; trains professionals in dealing with domestic violence; and advocates for implementation and improvement of Argentinean laws to better meet the needs of women who are victims of domestic violence.

 

SHALVA, Inc.:  Legal Liaison Program

Renewal Grant Amount: $10,000.   The Legal Liaison Program assists SHALVA's clients in dealing with their legal issues. Two Legal Liaisons work closely together to improve the lives of Jewish women experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The Liaisons train the family law community to recognize and understand the impact of IPV in divorce and parentage proceedings; recruit, train and retain family law referral attorneys; work with clients on the practical issues of divorce; and inform the legal community about systemic issues facing SHALVA's clients.

 

Shatil-New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change:  Advancing Women's Rights in Public Housing

Grant Amount: $7,500.   Through cross-political and interreligious work, this project empowers and trains women to become advocates in favor of more equitable and fair public housing. It also seeks to advance legislation and monitor public policy surrounding fair and equitable housing for women in low income and/or single parent households. 

 

Women of the Wall:  Claiming What's Ours

Grant Amount: $7,500.   The central mission of Women of the Wall (WOW) is to attain social and legal recognition for women to pray freely at the Western Wall (Kotel). "Claiming What's Ours" is the educational component of WOW's overall operations. The project educates Israeli girls and women about gender equality, feminism and how the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over prayer unjustly silences women in the public sphere.

Education/Leadership Development for Women & Girls

Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago:  Research Training Internship

Renewal Grant Amount: $11,000.   This 10-month internship trains a select group of Chicago-area, Jewish high school girls to carry out an original research project on issues relevant to teen girls and present their findings to the Jewish community through public forums and publications. Participants learn research methods, critical thinking skills, and public debate and speaking skills. The research can be and has been used by Jewish community professionals to improve the programs they offer for this population.

 

jGirls Magazine:  General Operating Support

Grant Amount: $10,000.   jGirls Magazine is an online magazine and community for self-identifying Jewish teenage girls to share their voices with the world and each other. In providing this forum for expression and exploration, jGirls contributes to long-term social change in the Jewish community by cultivating the next generation of bold, committed Jewish female leaders. 

 

Olim Beyahad:  Employment, Empowerment, and Leadership for Excelling Ethiopian Israeli Women

Grant Amount: $15,000.   Olim Beyahad increases the employment rate among Ethiopian Israeli university graduates by promoting their integration into the forefront of Israel's workforce and giving them an equal opportunity to gain appropriate jobs that suit their education level. By integrating female participants into leading jobs, they become role models for Ethiopian Israeli women and wider society. 

 

Project Kesher:  Next Gen: If Not Now, When?

Renewal Grant Amount: $12,000.   Next Gen equips women in the Former Soviet Union with leadership skills, strong Jewish identity, and the knowledge and ability to conduct system-wide social justice initiatives in their communities. The young women trained will receive ongoing mentoring and support from staff as they return to their communities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus even after the funding cycle is complete.

 

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS):  Chicago Regional Facilitation Workshop

Grant Amount: $13,400.    SOSS builds trust, respect, and relationships between American Muslim and Jewish women. The Regional Facilitation Workshop will use interfaith experts and consultants to train local Jewish and Muslim leaders in facilitation skills, philosophies and best practices so they can in turn lead interfaith dialogue in SOSS's 14 Chicagoland chapters. 

 

Health & Well-Being for Women & Girls

Bishvilaych   The Israel Breast Health Awareness Program

Renewal Grant Amount: $14,000.  The Breast Health Awareness Program targets women in low socioeconomic religious communities throughout Israel who are at high risk for breast cancer. Women in each community receive informative, practical workshops on breast cancer, genetic testing, and breast self-exam training to assist them in becoming proactive about breast health. Primary care physicians, obstetricians, and gynecologists from each community are trained by staff breast surgeons in clinical breast examinations.

 

The Eden Center:  Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikveh Attendants

Renewal   Grant Amount: $20,000.   The Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikveh Attendants educates and empowers mikveh attendants and mikveh bridal counselors as first responders and advocates for women's health by training them to look for signs of: abuse, breast health, postpartum depression, and domestic violence.

 

Tahel -- Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children:  Victim Advocacy Program

Grant Amount: $12,500.   Tahel helps all women and children in Israel who have been victimized or abused. The Victim Advocacy Program will train women community leaders, such as Rabbi's wives, mikveh attendants, kallah (bridal) teachers, school principals and staff, and Torah lecturers, in Ultra-Orthodox low socio-economic communities in Israel to recognize, reach out, intervene, support and advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

 

Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center:  Sexual Assault Testimony Project

Renewal Grant Amount: $15,000.  The Sexual Assault Testimony Project helps survivors of sexual violence liberate themselves from their hidden traumas and add their voices to Israel's collective story. The project includes audiovisual documentation of survivors' personal testimonies of sexual assault, aiming to help end the conspiracy of silence and enabling survivors to raise their voices and share their stories within a safe space, turning the personal into the political and redefining Israel's discourse around sexual violence.

 

Multiyear Grant to Address the Needs of Mothers and Women at Work - Year Two

Jewish Women's Funding Network (JWFN)

Grant Amount: $5,000. Second installment of two-year collaborative grant.  This grant, totaling $150,000 over two years, supports collaborative efforts for women's rights and gender equality in Israel with a focus on labor rights. The grant will be led by two coalitions (The Coalition for Direct Employment and Shutafot) who will promote direct employment of women in certain professions in Israel. The grant will focus on both local and national strategies simultaneously, with a greater emphasis on the local municipalities in the first year to influence the local elections that are taking place in October 2018. JWFN expects this project will create successful advocacy efforts to effect policy and workplace practices and lead to enhanced visibility for JWFN collaborative grantmaking. 

 

 



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