stepping up

Major philanthropists launch $80 million initiative to support Jewish non-profits

In partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America, the new alliance will provide both loans and grants to organizations struggling with the economic impact of the pandemic

Felicia Herman

A consortium of leading Jewish communal philanthropists will announce today an initiative to provide upwards of $80 million in interest-free loans and grants to shore up Jewish organizations struggling to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus. 

Who’s who: The Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF), supported by a seven foundations, including the Aviv Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Maimonides Fund, the Paul E. Singer Foundation, and the Wilf Family Foundation, will operate in coordination with the Jewish Federations of North America.

How it works: The invite-only program will be divided in two, with a loan program based at the Nonprofit Finance Fund, providing payroll and basic operational assistance for non-profits in the coming months. The grant program, which is being headed by the Natan Fund’s Felicia Herman, will provide supplementary grants and emergency and strategic funding.

Background: The announcement comes after news that the $350 billion government loans program to provide payroll support to small businesses and non-profits has been depleted. Most of the philanthropic partners associated with JCRIF committed last month to supporting grantees addressing immediate challenges and long-term organizational needs.

Addressing the need: “We recognize the dire health and economic needs that the pandemic has created and applaud the heroic efforts by so many to address them,” the funders said in a joint statement. “We have also seen firsthand the acute challenges Jewish organizations across the country are facing. While this fund alone cannot address all of those challenges, we believe that investing together in these vital pillars of Jewish life will help ensure a stronger future for American Jewry in the months and years to come.”

Unprecedented: The move surprised even those in the philanthropic world, where foundations tend to operate independently. “This is a real statement that it’s not business as usual. And we recognize it’s not business as usual,” one foundation insider told JI. “Everyone’s putting aside their autonomy and their idiosyncrasies and saying ‘this isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s going to allow us to take an Am Yisrael approach at a time that calls for an Am Yisrael moment.’”

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