Fund for Innovation in Health 2008

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has awarded $267,232 in “Fund for Innovation in Health” grants to six programs targeting health issues in Chicago’s Jewish community.

The Fund for Innovation in Health (FIH) supports programs that take new approaches to addressing health issues in the Chicago Jewish community, supporting families and caregivers and encouraging healthy living at every age. The fund was established in 2001 with a gift to the Federation’s Centennial Campaign from the Michael Reese Health Trust. The grant program has since been expanded with funds from the Weiss Memorial Hospital Supporting Foundation.

The 2008 grantees’ programs deepen the connections between family and community in an effort to strengthen both. “The Fund for Innovation in Health enables us to develop and support fresh, creative and innovative ways of dealing with medical and social problems that have not yet gotten on the community’s agenda," said Marc Slutsky, FIH Review Committee chair.

The six programs selected for this year’s grants range from early intervention for at-risk teens to flexible and in-home respite care for family caregivers to a program designed to decrease childhood obesity. This year’s grantees are:

Safety Net Through Citizenship for Immigrants with Disabilities: This project, through HIAS Chicago (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), will raise awareness of the importance of citizenship, and of obtaining disability waivers among elderly immigrants and those with significant health problems and disabilities who face immense challenges in passing the citizenship exam. It also will provide education to physicians, who must properly complete disability waiver applications and help the individuals who need to complete them. As a result, 75 Jewish refugees and immigrants with disabilities will complete citizenship disability waiver applications. ($40,000)

Healthy Choices, Healthy Relationships for Jewish Teens: Through Response Center’s new partnerships with synagogues, day schools, camps and Hillels in the north and northwest suburbs, Jewish teens and college students will be empowered to avoid harmful behaviors and make healthy choices in their relationships with peers. Interactive, experiential health education and prevention programs will directly impact 400-500 Jewish teens. An additional 1,000 Jewish teens and pre-teens will be served indirectly through training programs that help camp counselors, Maccabiah Games volunteer staff, and day school staff identify young people in their care who are at risk. ($50,000)

Flexible Respite Across the Lifespan: Whether caring for a disabled child or an aging parent, many families with dependents who have special needs have no one to call for caregiving assistance. Jewish Child and Family Services now can provide 50 families with 60 hours each of flexible respite care, allowing them to receive trusted, professional care for their loved ones while getting the personal time and rest they need. ($54,378)

Making Healthy Choices: This project, initiated by Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, aims to reduce the incidence of obesity among the 382 children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, enrolled in early childhood programs at three JCC centers. The pilot will increase knowledge of health issues and nutrition among staff, parents and children; add healthy snacks; and increase structured and unstructured physical activity. ($25,100)

Jewish Healing Network of Chicago (JHNC): A collaboration of agencies, including those serving children, families and the elderly, JHNC provides a comprehensive Jewish response to issues of illness and loss in the Chicago Jewish community. Services include support groups, training for volunteers practicing bikur cholim (visiting the sick) and hospice. ($70,000)

Healthy Advantage: This program at the Dina and Eli Field EZRA Multi-Service Center in Uptown offers individual nutrition counseling, weight management groups, fitness classes, and workshops on nutrition, affordable healthy cooking and lifestyle. ($27,754)

Grant-related funding decisions are made by a review committee composed of members of the boards of the Michael Reese Health Trust and the Federation.