A Decent Proposal

On February 15, Federation announced a Request for Proposal for new and innovative ideas for Jewish Portland with up to $300,000 available for Community Impact Grants (CIG). I am excited and pleased to report that in six weeks we received 66 outstanding proposals requesting over $3.5 million in funding. These proposals include five from international organizations, eight from national organizations outside of Portland, and the remainder from Jewish organizations throughout Oregon. With this, Portland is on the map for Jewish innovation!

Even more exciting--an opportunity for you. When we first announced this to the community and Federation’s partner agencies, we were upfront and shared that we may need to reduce our local allocations to fund the Community Impact Grants – “a short-term loss for a long-term gain.” Since announcing the CIG opportunity, I have spoken to several leading philanthropists who have agreed to provide additional resources to help reduce any reduction in local allocations.

I am excited to announce that the Zidell Family Foundation is providing a matching challenge grant that for every additional dollar raised towards CIG funding they will add fifty cents up to a maximum of $50,000. If we raise an additional $100,000 we will have $150,000 towards the CIG Fund.

By maximizing the challenge grant, our local allocations should not be reduced and we can feel an even greater sense of pride in our new initiatives – including putting $300,000 more into our community. If you appreciate this new effort and entrepreneurial spirit, please consider providing resources at any level over and above your current campaign contribution by clicking here. Your commitment will be matched 50% and make an incredible difference as we move our community into the forefront of American Jewry.

The process going forward is that a small subcommittee made up of an equal number of members of the Federation Governing Board, Allocations Committee, and the general community will review the proposals. Their recommendations will be presented to the Federation Allocations Committee, who will provide final recommendations to the Governing Board. We will announce the grant recipients at Federation’s Annual Meeting scheduled for June 1.

On a separate note, I enjoy the opportunity to meet with groups and individuals all over town. This past Wednesday night, under the leadership of Jill Rubinstein and Doug Lenhoff, Presidents of Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Neveh Shalom, respectively, we held the first meeting in at least four years of the greater Portland area synagogue presidents. It was refreshing to see the open sharing in the room, especially since most did not know one another.

The ninety minute discussion included many key topics:

• Recruitment and retention of synagogue members.
• The geographic sprawl of where members live in relation to where the synagogue is located.
• Governance, leadership development, finding new board members, and integrating new and old board members together.
• Many smaller congregations rent space from local churches. I inquired if there are ways to utilize space in existing Jewish communal institutions. This may work for some congregations and not others due to where their membership is based.
• Synagogue dues do not cover the costs of maintaining a synagogue. Therefore, traditional fundraising and planned giving are keys to the future.

As one person quipped, "no one joins a synagogue to one day be its president." I am truly grateful for the volunteer leadership each of these people are putting forth. It is not an easy task. Thus, this group has decided to meet on a quarterly basis.

Synagogues are an important fabric in the life of any Jewish community and I want to see all of our religious institutions thrive. I believe Federation can partner and play a significant role in making that a reality.

Our community should feel proud about the tremendous interest in Jewish life in Portland. We are the place where innovation and new ideas can happen. Join me in making Jewish Portland all that it can be – for ourselves, our children and future generations!

Shabbat Shalom!


PS - Please consider joining others in meeting the incredibly generous challenge grant from the Zidell Family Foundation for our Community Impact Grants. Click here to help make our community stronger.


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