Voices: The Chicago Teen Foundation and its alumni program have awarded $37,642 in grants to seven Jewish social service and education programs in Chicago and Israel.
Each year, Voices - a program of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago - introduces more than two dozen outstanding teens to hands-on philanthropic decision-making. They participate in a year-long training program that hones their leadership skills and immerses them in the details of the grant-making/grant-writing process. As part of the experience, they create an actual philanthropic foundation that solicits proposals, evaluates applications and awards grants.
This year, the Jewish Federation provided an initial $25,000 in funding, which then was supplemented by the teens themselves, alumni from last year's group, and an alumni matching grant from a donor.
Recipients of this year's awards are:
Neve Hannah Children's Home, Path to Peace Project, Israel: $6,000
Bridging the distinct cultural and religious worlds of some of Israel's most disadvantaged Jewish and Muslim Bedouin children, the Path to Peace Project offers programs that promote open dialogue on coexistence and teach participants how to live together in harmony.
The Ark, Intensive Day Program, Chicago: $5,592
Providing mental health services and comprehensive support to more than 80 low-income Jewish adults disabled by chronic mental illness, this program helps them live independently rather than in institutions or on the street.
Response, Youth Counseling, Chicago: $6,000
The grant will provide some 100 counseling sessions to young people ages 12-21. Response, a program of Jewish Child & Family Services, serves more than 12,000 young people of diverse backgrounds, primarily in the north and northwest suburbs.
Namaste Charter School, Literacy Intervention Team for Struggling Readers, Chicago: $5,000
An innovative program that provides daily supplemental literacy instruction to struggling 1st through 5th grade readers from low-income homes.
Keshet, Multi-Sensory Room, Chicago: $6,000
Keshet provides a wide range of programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. The grant supports a multi-sensory room that blends sights, sounds, textures, aromas and motion to stimulate the primary sensory systems of individuals with disabilities.
Jewish Child & Family Services, Therapeutic Day School Life Skills Program, $8,050 (Alumni Program)
Provides monthly field trips that allow the school's 120 at-risk students to take lessons learned in the Life Skills Program out into the community, supporting their development and independence.
Jewish United Fund 2012 Annual Campaign: $1,000
One of the largest ongoing fundraising efforts in the nation, the JUF Annual Campaign mobilizes the resources that bring wide-ranging humanitarian services to 300,000 Chicagoans of all faiths and 2 million Jews in Israel and worldwide.
For more information about Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation, or to apply for the 2012-13 session, go to http://www.juf.org/teens/voices.aspx or call 312.444.2802.
Joel Schatz is Director of News & Information for the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.