The Jewish United Fund's Breakthrough Fund, a six-year initiative to spark innovation and smart growth in leading-edge efforts that meet local human needs, engage Chicagoans Jewishly, and strengthen Israeli society, has announced more than $1 million in grants in its latest round.
The awards will support or kickstart efforts ranging from a women's mentorship initiative, STEM training for Orthodox women and Jewish summer camp experiences for young adults to programs addressing suicide prevention, end-of-life discussions, and sexual abuse. One will create intergenerational virtual reality tours of Israel for senior citizens and college students, while another will take viewers of all ages on virtual tours of three concentration camps, with Holocaust survivors as guides.
The grants-ranging from $15,000 to $100,000-will include $860,320 for 13 new initiatives, and $154,000 for three projects in the final year of multi-year grants.
Through its six grant cycles, JUF's Breakthrough Fund has awarded nearly $6.5 million via 80 grants to 54 organizations in the United States and Israel.
"This latest round of Breakthrough Fund grants continues our commitment to spur innovative, sustainable ways of invigorating Jewish life and community for years to come," committee Chair David Golder said. "Going forward, we will be working closely with local synagogues, schools, and agencies to further advance new models that will evolve with our community's needs, and to broaden the resources available to support them."
Anshe Emet Synagogue will partner with Emanuel Congregation and Anshe Sholom Bnai Israel to launch Tikkun Chicago, a multi-denominational education program tailored to teens' interests and learning styles.
CJE SeniorLife will offer virtual reality tours of Israel-led by young adult "tour guides" who have visited Israel-to decrease social isolation, increase opportunities for intergenerational programming, and test the feasibility of using VR technology in other efforts to improve older adults' health and quality of life.
Hebrew Theological College will receive a second year of funding to support Women in Technology, which provides computer science courses in two Orthodox girls' high schools, as well as an adult education computer coding class for women in
Honeymoon Israel will adapt the immersive Jewish learning that takes place on its Israel trips to local contexts, providing opportunities for couples who aren't selected for a trip to meet peers and explore their Jewish life together.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center will produce virtual reality tours of three concentration camps, as well as a new gallery for this immersive program. Viewers, guided by survivors who were imprisoned there, will experience railway cars, barracks, and slave labor factories.
The Israel Trauma Coalition is developing toolkits and training for front-line social workers and other professionals who work with children and youth in select northern Israeli communities, for use in the event of wartime evacuations.
JCFS Chicago will launch a suicide prevention and emotional support program designed to initiate dialogue, enhance understanding of suicide, reduce stigma, and ensure appropriate and compassionate responses in the Jewish community. JCFS is partnering with No Shame on U and MISSD (The Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin).
Jewish Women International's Young Women's Leadership Network of Chicago offers monthly leadership development, education, and mentoring opportunities to Jewish women in their 20s and 30s so they can learn from accomplished Jewish professional women role models.
Midwest Jewish Camps Group is partnering with JUF and Hillels of Illinois' Lewis Summer Intern Program to launch the Lewis Summer Camp Intern Program, creating professional internship opportunities in Jewish overnight summer camp settings.
NOAM will address sexual abuse in Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, publishing a short book for rabbis to learn about the issue, its prevalence, and the consequences of inaction or insufficient action; establishing a rabbinic roundtable and advisory committee; and launching telephone support for victims, rabbis, professionals, and others.
Reboot will pilot Death Over Dinner - Jewish Edition in Chicago. The program brings important end-of-life issues, including grief and mourning, advance directives, demystifying shiva and other Jewish customs, and other often-overlooked topics to young adults' dinner discussions.
SHALVA will create interactive videos to teach Jews in Chicago and potentially beyond how to appropriately and effectively communicate and intervene when they suspect someone is experiencing abuse. The videos will teach viewers when to demonstrate their concern, what to say, and what not to say; and provide opportunities to role-play the conversation.
Trybal Gatherings recreates the Jewish summer camp experience for young adults through weekend retreats. Trybal will scale up enrollment at Chicago-area retreats and offer year-round programming in collaboration with other local organizations.
In addition to the new awards, three continuing grants were awarded in June 2018 to Hazon, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Associated Talmud Torahs.
For more information about the Breakthrough Fund, contact Sarah Follmer, Assistant Vice President, Community Program Development, at (312) 357-4547, emailSarahFollmer@JUF.orgor visit