JUF approves $141 million budget ‘to assure the future’

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After months of detailed discussion and review, the JUF/Jewish Federation Board has approved a nearly $141 million budget that includes allocations to some 70 agencies and programs serving Jews and others throughout the Chicago area, in Israel and around the world.

The largest share of that budget represents dollars raised through JUF's Annual Campaign. Beyond the campaign amount, JUF also distributes funds it receives from government agencies, foundations, endowments, donor-advised funds and other sources. Revenues from those areas outside the Annual Campaign are all down.

Due to the impact the economic crisis had on many of those resources, and notwithstanding JUF Annual Campaign increased totals in 2010 and 2011 - anticipated again in 2012 - the Fiscal Year 2013 allocation to agencies is $1.6 million less than the previous year.

"For a number of years we had the good fortune of annual increased allocations," said David T. Brown, chairman of JUF's Overall Planning and Allocations Committee, which drafted the plan. "The past couple of years have been more challenging due to the economic crisis, and had it not been for leadership on the Annual Campaign side - particularly with J-HELP - we would be in a more difficult position."

Rather than imposing across-the-board reductions, adjustments were carefully targeted. Some areas, most notably the J-HELP services for those hit hardest by the economic downturn, were not reduced at all.

"This budget is designed to keep the safety net strong," said Barbara Slutsky, co-chair of JUF's Health & Human Services Commission.

"We worked very closely with our agencies in identifying what cuts were possible in an environment where cuts needed to be made." Brown said. "Clearly it was not a time for business as usual. So the question is: How do we have a client-centered outcome? How do we still support our agencies in serving the clients they need to serve?

"We reached out, had discussions, and dug deep into the budget information," he said. The process involved more than 200 community leaders on three different JUF/Federation commissions - Health & Human Services, Community Building & Jewish Continuity, and Israel & Overseas - as well as OPAC and the JUF/Federation Board itself. Collectively, those groups consulted with dozens of agency and program leaders, and met more than three dozen times before making the final recommendation.

That recommendation reflects JUF's consistent commitment to addressing immediate community needs and providing critical services. In line with that, the greatest local allocation will go to core Chicago-area social service agencies and programs. A total of $26,289,995 will help support agencies such as Jewish Child & Family Services, CJE SeniorLife, Jewish Vocational Services, Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center and The Ark.

Programs and initiatives promoting Jewish education and continuity will receive $21,379,575. Those funds will be used by the Jewish Community Center of Chicago, the Community Foundation for Jewish Education, Associated Talmud Torahs, 16 Chicago-area Jewish day schools, Spertus Center of Jewish Learning and Culture, Hebrew Theological College and other programs. Another $2,907,339 will go for academic scholarships, cultural agencies such as the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and programs that promote outreach, advocacy and Israel connections at the local and national levels, such as JUF-sponsored Birthright trips.

Included in those totals for domestic programs and organizations is more than $5 million to continue J-HELP services.

Since one of JUF's main tenets always has been caring for Jews in need all over the world, $28,256,355 will continue to fund its international partners - the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT - as well as other services that provide vital assistance to Jews in Israel and other countries.

Much of the rest of the $140.9 million total allocation covers distributions from donor-advised funds, community programs and services provided directly by JUF and the Federation, support services to affiliated agencies, and operational expenses.

"We are facing a new reality," JUF/Federation Board Chairman Skip Schrayer said. "Things will be different, already are different, as we emerge from the economic crisis. The very nature of the roles of government, business and the charitable world are shifting. So we are responding in ways that assure the future of the programs we support and, far more importantly, the futures of the people and the missions they serve."

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