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2021 Propel Grantee Spotlight

By Federation Innovation

Federation Innovation is committed to providing guidance, connections, and resources to Jewish Atlanta’s changemakers. One of the biggest ways we fulfill our mission is investing significant, early-stage funding (known as Propel grants) to new projects, methods, and ideas addressing our community’s biggest needs. We are thrilled to announce new Propel grants to:

  • Atlanta Jews of Color Council (AJOCC): Led by Victoria Raggs, this new organization advocates for Atlanta’s Jews of Color (JOCs) to provide mentorship, talent development opportunities, volunteer stewardship, and more for marginalized communities.
  • The Breman Museum: Led by Jeremy Katz, The Breman Museum is expanding their state-of-the-art online platform for cataloging and sharing the extensive oral history archives for Jewish Atlanta.
  • JScreen Cancer Screening: Led by Karen Grinzaid, JScreen is expanding services to identify BRCA and other cancer-enabling genes so patients can take life-saving preventatives steps.
  • Ma’alot: Led by Rabbi Ariel Wolpe, this emergent spiritual community provides a welcoming, progressive, local, and affordable Jewish gathering space for young and unaffiliated community members.
  • PJ Library Atlanta: Led by Nathan Brodsky, PJ Library is expanding their pilot micro-grant program to create more grassroots engagement opportunities for young families throughout Jewish Atlanta.
  • Political Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT): Lead by Dr. John Eaves, this initiative will connect Jewish and Black students from two different college campuses to educate and inspire more active political leadership in our youngest emerging leaders.

We are excited to invite this group of changemakers into our Propel cohort for FY22. If you are interested in learning more about any of these projects or organizations, please reach out to our Director of Innovation, Russell Gottschalk.

AgeWell Atlanta’s Virtual Events Empower Older Adults

By AgeWell Atlanta, Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation Innovation

A hybrid approach to programming, combining in-person and virtual events is likely to remain a strong option after the pandemic. That’s especially true for older adults, and AgeWell Atlanta is leading the way. 

Ashley Maloy who manages the AgeWell Atlanta Neighborhoods program said, “Seniors are requesting virtual programs. During the pandemic older adults gained new technological skills that empowered them to use tablets and computersVirtual programming also helps increase contact between older adults who live in different parts of Atlanta. Toco Hills residents didn’t want to drive to the JCC but they loved the virtual fitness classes and seeing friends they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. 

AgeWell Atlanta offers a robust calendar packed with 18-20 programs a week! Click below to see what’s coming up in June. RSVP and get virtual links for upcoming events by contacting Ashley Maloy.

Monday, June 7 | 3:15 pm Entertainment with Daniel Weiser
Daniel Weiser, pianist and Artistic Director of Amici Music, will present a special Zoom program along with violinist Tim Schwarz entitled Broadway ViolinIt will feature some wonderful arrangements of your favorite Broadway hits from the 1920’s to the 1960’s by Gershwin, Arlen, Rodgers, Bernstein, and more. 

Monday, June 8 | 11:30 am Smart Moves Panel
We are fortunate to be living in a time when life expectancy is far beyond what our ancestors could have dreamed of! With a little careful planning these precious extra years can be filled with joy, happinessand comfort. Join our team of experts to learn about how to plan for the unexpected. We will cover the topics of Medicare, Legal Needs, Housing, and Living Situations. 

The Panel Will Include:
Kelley Napier with Brannon Napier Elder Law
Keith Nabb with Affordable Medicare Solutions 

Lucretia Farley and Donna Cardenas with Atlanta Communities Real Estate
Caroline Ventry with A Place for Mom

Wednesday, June 23 | 3:15 pm High Museum of Art — The Evolution of Visual Storytelling
Come along as we explore how storytelling through images has evolved over time with Amanda Williams of the High Museum. We’ll travel from the 17th century through today and consider how context shapes the types of stories told and the methods artists employ in sharing their narratives. 

2021 Community Award Winners

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation Innovation

Jada Garrett 
As a Black Jew, Jada Garrett seeks to amplify voices and experiences of Jews of Color. She provides leadership and organizational diversity training workshops with a Jewish lensconsulting and public speakingJada is active at Congregation Shearith Israel, with Be’chol Lashon, and participates in multiple Jews of Color focus groups. She is also a member of the Jews of Color Fed Network, a community network made up of Jewish People of Color that serve as a resource for the broader Jewish communal landscape. 

Adam Hirsch 
Adam Hirsch epitomizes the definition of leadership within the Jewish Community. He is on the executive board of American Jewish Committee, Ahavath Achim Synagogue, and is a former board member of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and Jewish Family & Career Services. He has also served on the steering board of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. He was awarded the Young Leadership Award by ORT and was recently honored by Hillels of Georgia for his contributions both personally and professionally. Adam has also told the Jewish Atlanta story through various documentaries, including most recently, “Atlanta, The City Too Busy to Wait.”  

The Gerald G. Cohen Community Development Award — Jennifer Korach
Jennifer Korach may be new to Atlanta, but she has a long history with Jewish Federations. She was an active leader in Cleveland, holding many positions in the general campaign, women’s philanthropy, and was a member of Young Leadership Cabinet. Jennifer is a premier worker (and excellent fund raiser), serves as liaison to JFNA, and has served on allocations committees. Jennifer has co-chaired events and Pop Ups.   

The Marilyn Shubin Professional Staff Development Award — David Welsher
David Welsher is currently serving in his fourth academic year at The Epstein School and was recently named the Associate Head of School effective fall 2021. He is an inspired innovator, a gifted educator, and a compelling leader, who is enthusiastic about sharing his passion, vision, and knowledge. David’s educational philosophy sees each student as a whole child capable of learning and growth. Traditional academic learning is seen alongside the social, emotional, and spiritual growth of each student.   

Mary & Max London People Power Award — Lauren Harris
Lauren Harris has served on JF&CS’s Board for over 10 years. She created The Artists’ Collective; an innovative, volunteer led and run inclusion program bringing community artists twice a month into IndependenceWorks, JF&CS’s day services program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program gives clients who love art the ability to experiment with a variety of mediums and to interact with artists who are experts in their medium. Some of the items produced have been sold at JF&CS’s signature event, the Tasting, a fundraiser that supports these programs.  

Tikkun Olam/Community Impact Award — Mimi Hall
Mimi Hall was a founder and early organizer of Concrete Jungle, an organization launched in 2009 with the innovative idea of harvesting fruit and nuts from abandoned/underutilized urban trees. Concrete Jungle makes that produce a year-round food source for food banks, shelters, and people in need. The organization has now grown to a multi-pronged food justice advocate. Concrete Jungle organizes fruit picking events. It partners with other food justice organizations mobilizing volunteers for food delivery to needy families.   

Path by Plywood

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation Innovation


Path by Plywood with Jewish ATL is a micro-community of Jewish people that gather to learn together, inspire each other, and build their ideas together, and create a community of shared trust and support. This 8-week program is created in collaboration with Plywood People, a non-profit dedicated to leading a community of start-ups doing good. More info on their Path offering here, which they define as “For problem solvers who need direction and accountability as they decide what to do with their idea.”

Date of Events:  

April 8: class gathers for first time, introduce yourself and ideas
April 15, 22, 29:  sections 1, 2 and 3
May 6, 13, 20: sections 4, 5 and 6
May 27: community giving circle (TBD in person or virtual)

This program is in service to our community’s changemakers. Some of them need support growing their idea and better understanding how it can successfully launch. 

By participating in Path, you can expect: 

  • to follow a proven problem-solving method that has been implemented by hundreds of people before you. 
  • to learn from dozens of other social entrepreneurs through video content, written articles, reflective challenges, and group meetups.
  • a weekly video call (8-9 PM on consecutive Thursdays April 8 – May 27) with others in the course, led by a Plywood People facilitator.
  • access to the course content for a year. 

By completing Path (attend at least 4 of the 6 sections and actively participate), you are eligible to present your project or idea to the cohort and vie for part of the $2,500 investment pool.

Any questions? Contact Director of Innovation, Russell Gottschalk, for more info.

Tikkun Olam Makers, First Place Winner at Propel Pitch

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation Innovation

Last week’s Propel Pitch was fast-paced and fun! With a lively virtual audience of over 225 people to cheer them on, these five current Propel grantees moved into the final round competing for the top prizes of $35K, $25K, and $20K:  AgeWell Atlanta, Be’chol Lashon, OneTable Atlanta, Jewish Fertility Foundation, and Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM).

“Our panel of prestigious judges asked their organization’s representatives tough questions about their impact, leadership, plans for scale, and more.” The stakes grew higher as AgeWell Atlanta, JFF, and TOM moved to the top three.

Then BOOM! A panel of stellardeclared Georgia Tech’s Tikkun Olam Makers the first- place winner, followed by Jewish Fertility Foundation in second place, and AgeWell Atlanta in third. Learn more about all the competitors and see their presentation videos here.

Georgia Tech’s TOM, which stands for Tikkun Olam Makers, is part of a global movement that is bringing together people with disabilities (known as “Need Knowers”) and people with creative abilities (known as “Makers”). TOM’s mission is to develop open-source assistive technology to address the everyday challenges faced by people with disabilities.

The TOM movement started in Israel with a mission to serve 250 of the most neglected members of society — the elderly, people with disabilities, and the poor. At Georgia Tech, there are currently 10 projects in development. This new infusion of funding will help TOM scale up its team at Tech, and establish new teams on other Georgia campuses.

Georgia Tech’s TOM team is supported by Hillels of Georgia and has established partnerships with JF&CS,Camp Twin Lakes, and Jewish Abilities Alliance of Atlanta.You can see this talented TOM team in action at their upcoming Make-A-Thon, March 12-13, 2021 where student prototypes will be on display.

Pivoting from Fashion to Service

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Federation Innovation

Pivoting from Fashion to Service
by Deborah Plotsky

I spent the first seven years of my career in fashion, but I’ve always had another passion for food and gardening. In 2019, after seven years of attempts to grow basil and compost in my tiny New York City apartment, I decided it was time to return to the hometown of my alma mater, Atlanta. I convinced my company to let me work remotely in Atlanta and decided I would find a more food or earth-focused job once I got here. Before I even really began networking in my new city, COVID-19 struck and left me jobless for the first time in my adult life. In good company and in the face of an overwhelming wave of need, I saw it as an opportunity to finally redirect my time and attention to a career of service.

It was all quite serendipitous; I happened to run into Claire, a Repair the World Fellow, at my community garden, she happened to mention Serve the Moment, a program that mobilizes young adults to engage in critical racial justice work, tackle food insecurity, strengthen our education system, and combat social isolation. And I happened to apply right on the application deadline. I knew it was my moment to pivot my career, but I knew no one in the field in my new city. Serve the Moment came to the rescue. After explaining my interests, my city coordinator paired me with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit that facilitates access to and awareness of healthy food for all Georgians in need through local farmers and community partners. I’ve specifically focused on building a program to offer highly discounted Thanksgiving produce and protein boxes to families receiving SNAP food assistance. I’m able to leverage my relationship building and program management skills from my fashion career to deliver nutritional, sustainable food to the community in Atlanta.

Serve the Moment has been an excellent crash course into food injustice and the extreme needs in my community. Aside from my work with Wholesome Wave Georgia, we have weekly national and city learning sessions. Coming from a completely different background, the national fsessions with Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger are invaluable to me. At the local level, last week, we had the director of Grove Park Renewal talk to our city cohort about gentrification and how they’re working to protect citizens’ historic homes. I’m getting both a macro and micro view of the needs all around me while building a network of changemakers in my community.

The Jewish teachings of Tikkun Olam are at the root of this work. I’ve been able to meet people in my community who dedicate their lives to leaving this world better than how they found it. Together, we are able to spread the message and the work in a meaningful way. I’m so thankful for my Serve the Moment experience, I know it’s just the beginning of an impactful service-oriented career for me and perhaps even more importantly, the foundation of my new community (and especially the Jewish community) in my new home.

About Serve the Moment: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Repair the World and a coalition of partners created “Serve the Moment.” This part-time program connects Jewish young adults and college students (ages 18-29) to meaningful service and learning to address the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the current movement for racial justice. Corps Members earn a stipend for 10 hours a week volunteering with service partners, and an additional 2 hours a week elevating their professional skills and accelerating their personal growth through virtual learning sessions. Applications for the spring cohort open December14


By Federation Innovation

We’ll find out on January 14 at Propel Pitch: A Virtual Showcase of Jewish Atlanta Innovation. Get ready for a nail-biting night of raw courage and chutzpah as 14 Propel Grantees who’ve been honing their pitches, bring their best ideas to a panel of luminary judges!  In November and December, Propel grantees will receive pitch training from national and local Jewish entrepreneurs with opportunities to practice before their peers, and a professional film crew to capture their story.

It all culminates in a virtual live “final” Propel Pitch night. The stakes are high and very real as Atlanta’s Jewish community changemakers go before a panel of savvy business pros who with the community will award funding of up to $100,000 to three innovators in Jewish Atlanta!

Federation Innovation and the event host committee will share the pitches via e-mail, social media, and other marketing channels in the first two weeks of January. Then Propel grantees will share their video with their networks. The grantees who generate the greatest amount of social media engagement will earn an automatic invite to the final competition.

Propel Grantees up for consideration will represent these four categories:

  1. Next Gen:
    Career Up Now, Moishe House (Russian Speaking Jewish- RSJ), OneTable and Trybal Gatherings
  2. Human Services:
    AgeWell Atlanta, Blue Dove Foundation, Jewish Atlanta During COVID-19 film, Jewish Fertility Foundation, and Tikkun Olam Makers
  3. Education and Spiritual Life:
    18Doors, Jewish Education Collaborative, and Your Jewish Bridge
  4. Social Justice:
    Be’chol Lashon and Repair the World





By Federation Innovation, People in Need

It is a great heartache to want a child and not being able to conceive. Whether you are a couple or an individual wanting children, it is utterly demoralizing to see others sail through pregnancy when you cannot, and it is agonizing to discover that many reproductive technologies are financially out of reach.

It took a local Atlanta innovator, Elana Frank, to bring insights from Israel, where IVF treatments are affordable, back home to Atlanta where she launched the Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF). Over the course of five years, this Federation Innovation grantee has had outsized impact on our Jewish community. JFF provides financial assistance, emotional support, and education for those in the Jewish community facing medical infertility. JFF’s mission and ambition is exactly what we look for in an Innovation grant recipient — a remarkable idea with potential for great impact in the Jewish world, and a team with genuine dedication to its success.

“With our initial grant from Federation Innovation, we were able to create a program which is literally now being implemented across the country” says Elana Frank. “We believe in partnerships, and that community investment is so important to our process. Innovation in Atlanta has gotten us where we are today.”

Elana and her team have more than delivered, and we won’t apologize for the pun! We’ve watched the Jewish Fertility Foundation enable the birth of 49 babies (so far!) and blossom into a network of support that is scaling beyond Atlanta. We continue to be inspired by their tenacity. With our support JFF was initially able to create a community support program specifically for the Atlanta orthodox community, as well as establish Fertility Buddies, an emotional support program which has been replicated nationally and continues to grow.

Since their first round of funding, JFF has been able to substantially expand their reach throughout the Jewish community, offering emotional support and resources for single mothers, multi-faith couples, and all those facing fertility challenges. “The Jewish Fertility Foundation embodies what we hope for in a grantee relationship at Innovation” says Jori Mendel, VP of Innovation. “We share the same belief in the power of community as JFF. Their contributions and participation in offerings like Path by Plywood and Propel grantee mentor cohorts show that working together makes us all stronger in our endeavors. JFF’s continual growth and success is a testament to that.”


By Federation Innovation

Even before The Front Porch process concluded several years ago, Federation was already making meaningful investments in community innovation. As early as 2013, Federation helped incubate and bring Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Jewish Student Union, and Jewish Kids Groups to life. That creative energy has now formally coalesced into Federation Innovation – a powerful community idea accelerator created to offer guidance, connections, and resources for our city’s Jewish changemakers.

We’re very proud to note that:

  • 75 percent of our earliest entrepreneurs continue to provide a return on investments that were made over three years ago.
  • We have successfully helped bring these national Jewish nonprofits to Atlanta: Repair the World, Honeymoon Israel, 18 Doors (formerly Interfaith Family), OneTable, Moishe House, Trybal, B’chol Lashon, and CareerUpNow
  • We have supported the creation of new programs within existing organizations, such as AgeWell Atlanta, JCC Intown, JumSpark, Jewish Education Collaborative, and Your Jewish Bridge

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