The Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (JWF) has awarded $345,500 to 21 outstanding projects that improve the lives of Jewish women and girls in Chicago and around the world.
With more than 330 trustees and a pledged endowment of nearly $9 million, JWF has awarded $3.5 million to 153 unique projects to improve opportunities in all aspects of Jewish women's and girls' lives, and will mark its 20 th year of bold, innovative grantmaking in 2017.
"The Jewish Women's Foundation started in 1997 with a vision- and in the 20 years since, the reality has far exceeded that vision," said Alona Anspach, JWF's first chair, and a founding and multigenerational trustee.
JWF's grants fund strategic projects that create social change at the individual, communal and institutional levels. This year's total includes multi-year grants and grants from The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (see sidebar) .
"JWF serves as a forum for Jewish women to be heard, to learn, to act, and to lead," said Nancy Kohn, JWF Chair. "Sitting at our philanthropic table are women representing different perspectives and generations, but who share a deep commitment to advancing Jewish women and girls."
Trustees make grants to organizations and projects serving Jewish women and girls, with a focus on one of three areas: economic security and legal reform; education and leadership development; and health and well-being.
This year, several of JWF's new grantees include:
Economic security and legal reform: WePower: The College for Women in Politics addresses the disproportionate distribution of political power in Israel by helping women gain the skills and knowledge they need to run, be elected and ultimately advocate for women's rights and representation in Israeli government from the local to national levels.
Education and leadership development: Project Kesher: Next Gen: If Not Now, When? equips young Jewish women living in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus with leadership skills, strengthened Jewish identity, and the knowledge to conduct social justice initiatives in their communities, in the press, and via social media, through ongoing mentoring and support, and online Russian language resources.
Health and well-being: The Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center: Sexual Assault Testimony Project helps liberate survivors of sexual violence from their hidden trauma through audiovisual documentation of their personal testimonies of sexual assault. For many survivors, this may be the first time they feel they have received emotional acknowledgement or validation of their experiences. Documentation also serves as a tool to show victims that they are not alone in their suffering.
"There is no stopping a bunch of smart women coming together to tackle issues such as violence against women across the globe," said Shari Slavin, JWF Grants Chair. "Our balanced docket represents the power of providing Jewish women with meaningful, multigenerational involvement at the philanthropic table."
New grants have also been awarded to the Midwest Access Project; and Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago : May'yan Research Training Institute.
In addition, JWF has awarded a new two-year multi-year grant to the Jewish Women's Funding Network, to support collaborative and effective efforts for women's rights and gender equality in Israel with a focus on labor rights.
JWF renewal grants include: ATZUM: Task Force on Human Trafficking ; National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section: Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking Coalition Chicago ; Adva Center: Community Empowerment to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls ; Yeshivat Maharat; Mavoi Satum: Supreme Court Appeals Department: Advancing Change in the Realm of Personal Status in the State of Israel ; Bishvilaych Women's Health Organization: Your Health is in Your Hands: Breast Health Awareness ; Eden Center: Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikvah Attendants ; Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar : Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change ; and the third installment of a three-year multi-year grant to SHALVA: Legal Liaison Program .
Grants through the Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago include: Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network: Medical Response Collaborative ; Midwest Access Project; Paamonim: Economic Empowerment for Single Mothers ; The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell ; University of Chicago Medicine: WomenLab ; and Women Moving Millions.
"At its core, JWF is about social change philanthropy; we use both a gender lens and a Jewish lens to determine our grantmaking priorities," Kohn said. "As trustees, we use our combined voices and philanthropic dollars as a catalyst to effect positive change-and that is a powerful experience."
About The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
Ellen H. Block, a founding Lifetime trustee of the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and its first "Women Moving Millions" member, established The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago in 2013 with the first $100,000 of her multi-year Women Moving Millions pledge to JWF. The Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago supports causes, issues, initiatives, and programs that promote safety, security, equal rights, equal voice and equal opportunities for girls and women.
The following are detailed descriptions of the 2016 JWF grants:
Economic Security/Legal Reform for Women and Girls
ATZUM: Task Force on Human Trafficking works on the grassroots level with other non-governmental organizations, engaging public, government, and law enforcement agencies to confront and eradicate sex trafficking in Israel. This project is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the Knesset legislate a Nordic Model law, designed to criminalize the purchase of sexual services and protect the prostituted person.
Mavoi Satum: Supreme Court Appeals Department: Advancing Change in the Realm of Personal Status in the State of Israel . According to halacha (Jewish law based on the Talmud), a couple cannot divorce unless the man gives his wife a get (writ of divorce). Stringent interpretation of this law has resulted in discrimination against women. By creating a department specializing in Supreme Court appeals, Mavoi Satum will establish new precedents that will create positive, long-lasting change and expose this injustice within the Chief Rabbinate.
Midwest Access Project (MAP) fills gaps in medical education and clinical training and reduces barriers to health care, providing medical practitioners with reproductive health training and patients with access to services-both of which are hindered by religious and ideological institutional refusals. MAP's ongoing programs include individual clinical training, provider and community education, and regional collaboration to restore reproductive health care options where none or too few exist.
National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section: Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking Coalition Chicago (JCAST) works to eradicate sex trafficking in the Chicagoland area through public awareness, community engagement, and advocacy at local, state, and national levels. Inspired by Jewish values, JCAST partners with interfaith and human rights groups, non-profit organizations, government officials, and law enforcement agencies to advocate for policies, services for victims, and greater awareness.
WePower: The College for Women in Politics seeks to elevate women's status and representation in Israel by increasing the number of women who run and are elected to public office, helping Israeli women access the knowledge they need to run, be elected, and increase the number of women in high-level decision making positions throughout the country who can ultimately advocate for women's rights and representation.
Education/Leadership Development for Women and Girls
Adva Center: Community Empowerment to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls . This grassroots community organizing project gives Israeli women the tools they need to become politically active in both formal and informal settings throughout their community. Through education, women in communities throughout Israel will become empowered to effect change in their local municipalities.
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Ma'yan Research Training provides high school-aged girls an opportunity to engage in serious inquiry about the topics that matter most to them. RTI interns produce new, well-researched evidence of the needs and experiences of Jewish teen girls, which can be used by community professionals to improve existing programs. This project is a partnership between the New York-based Ma'yan, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and DePaul University's Beck Research Initiative for Women, Gender and Community.
Project Kesher: Next Gen: If Not Now, When? equips young Jewish women living in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus with leadership skills, strengthened Jewish identity, and the knowledge and ability to conduct social justice initiatives in their communities, in the press, and via social media.
Yeshivat Maharat, the first yeshiva in the United States to ordain women as Orthodox clergy, provides a credentialed pathway for women to serve as spiritual leaders or in rabbinic positions.
Health and Well-Being for Women and Girls
BishvilaychWomen's Health Organization: Your Health is in Your Hands: Breast Health Awareness targets women in low socioeconomic religious communities throughout Israel who are at high risk for breast cancer. Due to cultural insulation and modesty laws, Orthodox women in Israel tend to be uninformed about breast health. Primary care physicians, obstetricians and gynecologists will be trained by staff breast surgeons in clinical breast exams and women in each community will participate in workshops to help them become proactive about breast health.
Eden Center: Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikvah Attendants seeks to change the objective of mikvah (ritual bath) attendants from performance of the mikvah ritual to becoming an advocate for women's health and well-being. Through education, Israeli mikvah attendants will address pressing issues such as domestic violence, post-partum depression, and breast health.
Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar: Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change . Located in Buenos Aires, Shalom Bait is the only Jewish organization working directly to meet the needs of Jewish victims of domestic violence in Argentina. This project will increase public awareness, train professionals in the community on how to intervene in cases involving domestic violence, and engage in advocacy efforts to enforce and strengthen the domestic violence laws in Argentina.
Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center: Sexual Assault Testimony Project assists silenced survivors of sexual violence liberate themselves from their hidden traumas though audiovisual documentation of their personal testimonies of sexual assault. The project is designed to help victims to raise their voices and share their stories. Documentation also serves as a tool to show victims that they are not alone in their suffering.
SHALVA: Legal Liaison Program ( third installment of three-year multi-year grant.) SHALVA, the oldest independent Jewish domestic violence agency in the United States, works to address domestic abuse in Chicago Jewish homes and families through counseling and education. SHALVA's Legal Liaison Program will hire attorneys to provide legal information and support to women who are engaged in lengthy legal battles with the men who abused them. Additionally, the Legal Liaison works to identify and recruit attorneys who will provide pro bono legal representation for SHALVA's clients.
Jewish Women's Funding Network (first installment of two-year multi-year grant ) supports collaborative and effective efforts for women's rights and gender equality in Israel with a focus on labor rights.
The Ellie Fund of the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network (CMBWN): Medical Response Collaborative has been created to shift the medical system's response to domestic violence. Bringing together member service providers in partnership with hospitals, Medical Response teams advocate for doctors and nurses to treat domestic violence as a public health issue where they can play a proactive role in reducing future violence and help those in crisis by properly screening and referring victims.
Midwest Access Project . (See above description . )
Paamonim: Economic Empowerment for Single Mothers aims to increase the financial literacy of single mothers in Israel by teaching them how to change their consumer habits, handle debt, balance their budgets, improve their value in the job market, and manage household finances.
The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell. This award-winning, Chicago-based storytelling initiative explores how public testimony can be used as a tool for social change and brings the testimonies of Jewish survivors of sexual violence to the public sphere. By sharing the testimony of those who have lived through or witnessed gender related violence, the project seeks to challenge public response to violence against women.
University of Chicago Medicine: WomenLab , In contrast to wide public awareness of and exceedingly profitable advances in medical treatment for male sexual dysfunction, female sexual function and dysfunction remain largely invisible, stigmatized topics, even between women and their physicians. The WomanLab project will provide the public, particularly women and their physicians, with reliable and consumable evidence-based information that will help women and their physicians to interpret and constructively respond to the impending, unprecedented consumer marketing campaign addressing sexual dysfunction.
Women Moving Millions (WMM) is a community of individuals who have made gifts and pledges of one million dollars or more to organizations and initiatives promoting the advancement and empowerment of women and girls. This community believes that women and girls are the single best investment towards creating healthy societies, economic growth, and global stabilization. WMM is committed to funding systemic change and building a peaceful and equitable world.