Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

What kind of difference can $300,000 make in our Jewish community? We will soon find out!

You have heard me write in these pages that Federation must evolve and that positive change is necessary. One way to do this is for Federation to move towards a more entrepreneurial approach in its allocations process. I recently read an article by Rebecca Sive, a non-profit adviser, where she states, “successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks and do so quickly. That way, they get to – again, quickly – learn what works and what does not. Likewise organizations that do this will quickly build good programs that donors will want to support enthusiastically and people of influence will flock to aid.”

Last night, the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland took a bold step forward in creating an entrepreneurial spirit and building a more vibrant and open Jewish community for the future. The Board voted to utilize up to $300,000 from this year’s campaign (money from the annual campaign and special supplemental gifts from generous philanthropists) to expand our Community Impact Grants program (formerly known as our highly successful Innovation Impact Grants that helped launch such programs as Jewish Theater Collaborative and Mother’s Circle). These funds will provide the opportunity for our community to reach new populations, create new initiatives, and add a “spark” to Jewish life.

By increasing the pool of dollars, we now have the ability to fund larger scale programs, and more program ideas outside our current framework. Organizations (Federation partner agencies, synagogues, local Jewish organizations, national Jewish organizations, secular organizations who collaborate with Jewish institutions) and individuals are encouraged to think big, broad, and to create collaborative relationships with others. I truly believe this is an exciting development that provides the opportunity for Federation and its grantees to take calculated risks and invest in programs/ideas that will change the face of our community.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be mailed out early next week where organizations can apply for up to $300,000 for collaborative and innovative program ideas. Applications are due no later than April 4, 2011.

This process continues Federation’s community-building mission. Federation was founded to serve as a fundraising and fund distribution arm for the Jewish community and its beneficiary agencies. We recognize that with the growth of Jewish Portland our current agency structure may not be reaching the larger scale Jewish community. Therefore, we can begin to develop a “community allocations” process where new partnerships and collaborations can be developed that will enhance Jewish life. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results. Federation will lead the effort to provide our current safety net services while at the same time strive for communal innovation to meet tomorrow’s need.

We look forward to many new and exciting ideas to come from this venture.

On a separate note, Jen Feldman, an incredible woman who has served our Jewish community for 20 years has made the decision to leave the Federation professional team to pursue other interests. I am grateful to Jen for her warm embrace from the moment I arrived and for her guidance during my transition. Our community owes a great deal to Jen for her years of service and deep commitment to Jewish life in Portland and around the world. Jen, you will be sorely missed and our best wishes go out to you in your new endeavors.

Shabbat Shalom.


PS – Please do not forget to register for one of the three mini-missions to our local agencies. Please click here for more details.


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