Federation Allocates Over $1 Million Dollars to Innovative and Impactful Jewish Communal Initiatives

Latest phase of Federation’s Strategic Planning Process funds work focused on Engaging the Next Generation and Strengthening Jewish Life in Northern VA.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington announced the allocation of more than $1 million in funds for 31 proposals geared towards testing new ideas and expanding high impact initiatives within the Jewish community of Greater Washington. The funds were raised through Federation’s 2018 Annual Campaign, specifically in support of Federation’s strategic priority areas of focus: Engaging the Next Generation, Strengthening Jewish Life in Northern Virginia, and Adult Learning.

“Our investment in these proposals reflects Federation’s core commitment to mobilizing our community towards building a vibrant and connected Jewish community,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of The Jewish Federation. “Now is the time to give new ideas a chance, take risks, and scale what is working. That is why we solicited proposals from across the community including traditional agencies, synagogues, and startups who have effectively brought great ideas to life.”

To determine how best to invest these resources, Federation formed two Task Forces (Next Gen and NoVA) of community leaders and then put out a Request for Proposals at the beginning of 2019. In response, 49 unique organizations submitted 68 inspiring ideas, and, in late February, 47 of these organizations brought their proposals to life for an engaged and eager audience at Federation’s first-ever Pitch Night.

Co-Chair of Federation’s Next Gen Task Force, Jamie Poslosky, said of the evening, “This process has been so inspiring. We could have approached this with the status quo, reading words on a grant application. But we decided to meet with the people behind these incredible projects, and engage with their energy and hopes for the future.”

“Boiling down our organization’s mission and vision for the future into a two-minute presentation was a challenge,” said Andrea Deck of Honeymoon Israel, one of the funded organizations. “But the process made us that much stronger.”

The selected ideas are set to infuse the local community with innovative and impactful programming, initiatives, and offerings in these three target areas across the Jewish Greater Washington. With varied approaches, some will help successful models grow into new regions. Others will reimagine the way institutions currently connect with the Jewish community, changing historical boundaries between members and non-members. Still others seek to create new organizations that can build community in distinct locations and in new ways. Across all of the funded initiatives, the idea is to learn and expand over time.

On June 6, the funded agencies will come together for the first time as a cohort in advance of Federation’s Homecoming event at a reception for funders, committee members, and the agencies.

Continued Preuss, “Not only are we eager to see new initiatives take root, we are also excited to cultivate new partnerships and increase collaboration between our communal organizations. Before Pitch Night, many of our local leaders had never met one another. Looking ahead, we are committed to closing the loop and supporting leaders in exchanging ideas and working together to meet crucial communal needs. In our changing times, we want to do everything we can to leverage impact and innovation across the whole community to the benefit of Jewish Greater Washington.”