Sacred Spaces, a group working to systemically address and prevent sexual abuse in Jewish institutions, was the proud recipient of a $50,000 grant at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago's first-ever Frame the Future Pop-Up Giving Circle last week. The night featured live presentations by a select group of nonprofits pitching innovative grant proposals in keeping with JWF's mission of supporting Jewish women and girls, and gave attendees the opportunity to vote for which proposal would receive funding. Nearly 100 women attended the event, raising the $50,000 grant themselves through contributions of at least $500 each in order to participate.
The event was the culmination of a year of special celebrations in honor of the Jewish Women's Foundation's 20-year anniversary.
"This is part of a revolution," said Joelle Berman, a national giving circle expert who facilitated the event. "We are revolutionizing the way that philanthropy happens."
Sacred Spaces plans to use the award to launch their program in Chicago, uniting local institutions across the denominational spectrum in a guided process for preventing abuse in the community. The process will focus on comprehensive policy development and education for lay leaders, clergy, staff, and the community. Sacred Spaces looks forward to adding its specialized expertise on this critical issue and collaborating with organizations such as Jewish Child and Family Services to reach new collective heights.
"Judaism demands that we protect the vulnerable," said Sari Steinberg, of Sacred Spaces, in her pitch. "We need to do abuse prevention and we needed to have done it yesterday. This work cannot wait."
Runners-up included Sharsheret, an organization supporting Jewish women and families facing breast and ovarian cancer, and Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, which empowers Jews of all backgrounds to discover new entry points into Judaism through mindfulness and immersive learning. Both organizations also received a $1,500 contribution to support their work.
The Jewish Women's Foundation is an independent project of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. For more information, visit www.juf.org/jwf/ .