Category

INNOVATION

Tikkun Olam Makers, First Place Winner at Propel Pitch

By 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 CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, People in Need

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 https://servethemoment.org/join-the-corps

MEET THE COMPETITORS

By Federation Innovation, 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

 

 

 

JFF EXPANDS ITS REACH

By CARING, INNOVATION, JEWISH JOURNEYS, 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.”

OUR IMPACT BY THE NUMBERS

By Federation Innovation, 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

Innovation is Deep in Atlanta’s DNA

By Federation Innovation, INNOVATION

Did you know 75 percent of our earliest Federation Innovation entrepreneurs are still serving Jewish Atlanta? Their successes continue to put Atlanta on the map for leadership in Jewish innovation. The roots of Federation Innovation began in 2013 with the inaugural class of ProtéJ, an early grantmaking incubator for Jewish social entrepreneurs in service of new ideas. (Read about the ProtéJ innovators here). Today Federation Innovation keeps that energy going, providing guidance, connection, and resources for Atlanta’s Jewish changemakers and propelling their ideas into impactful realities.

ProtéJ gave birth to several organizations that are now well-established parts of our Jewish ecosystem: Jewish Kids Groups (Ana Robbins), Jewish Student Union (Chaim Neiditch), Creating Connected Communities (Amy Zeide), and In the City Camp (Eileen Price). Other familiar entrepreneurs include Adam Griff, founder of Adamah Adventures, now with NFTY, and Russell Gottschalk, founder of Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, now with Federation Innovation. Their stories prove that innovation is deep in Atlanta’s DNA and that even when an organization closes its doors, the lessons learned are a profound element of innovation. It’s undeniable — Jewish Atlanta’s high success rate for innovation, and the continued engagement of local leaders is remarkable.

2020 Propel Grants

By Federation Innovation, INNOVATION

Federation Innovation has awarded $182,000 in Propel Innovation Renewal Grants in 2020, supporting organizations, ideas, and people reimagining Jewish life in Atlanta. Grant renewals went to seven organizations that were originally awarded innovation funds in June 2019. Many grants meet needs emerging out or the COVID-19, such mobilizing volunteers to serve in and outside of our community (Repair the World), broader access to mental health services (The Blue Dove Foundation), and a different delivery system for aging services (AgeWell Atlanta).

Here’s where innovation is happening across metro Atlanta.

18Doors – 18Doors empowers people in interfaith relationships to engage in Jewish life and make Jewish choices, and encourages Jewish communities to welcome them. Through this pilot initiative, 18Doors will develop a web-based tool for engaged interfaith couples that have chosen not to use Jewish clergy, but are still interested in creating a wedding ceremony infused with Jewish traditions.

Career Up Now – Career Up Now’s Women of Wisdom is a local community where young women explore Jewish values and career advancement with community and industry leaders. The community focuses on women’s empowerment, with Jewish women community and industry leaders serving as role models.

Tikkun Olam Makers –  TOM (Tikkun Olam Maker) at Georgia Tech (GT) is part of TOM Global: a movement of communities that creates and disseminates affordable solutions to neglected challenges of people living with disabilities, the elderly, and the poor. In partnership with JF&CS, TOM at GT will identify need-knowers in the Atlanta community to participate in a Spring 2021 Makeathon event.

AgeWell Atlanta – Information and Referral Concierge
Most older adults prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, which increases the need for a coordinated system of care. This grant will enable AgeWell Atlanta to implement a data management system, to help track delivery of services, collect outcomes data, determine the impact of its work, and identify service gaps.

Be’chol Lashon – Passport to Peoplehood
Atlanta’s Jewish community is diverse and increasingly so, but our legacy institutions struggle to address and serve Jews of color. Be’chol Lashon, which means “in every language,” received support to offer diversity training workshops and educational resources to create greater awareness of racial and ethnic diversity in Atlanta’s Jewish Community.

The Blue Dove Foundation – Mental Health Wellbeing Toolkit
A comprehensive project addressing mental health and substance abuse issues through a toolkit and training sessions for organizational leaders, community members, and Jewish camps. to serve as “mental health first responders.” Addresses increased mental health needs that have arisen during COVID-19.

Jewish Atlanta During COVID-19 Film – Entrepreneur
Grant support for a film will highlight and document the unique history of the Jewish community in Atlanta during COVID times. This film will be created in collaboration with The Breman Museum and has gained the invaluable support of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival’s leadership team.

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta – Jewish Education Collaborative
Part of a larger project to reimagine a model for Jewish education in Atlanta, this grant supports moving three supplemental education programs into an innovation process with the national Jewish Education Project.

Jewish Fertility Foundation – Modern Jewish Family
The Jewish Fertility Foundation (JFF) provides financial assistance, educational awareness, and emotional support to Jews who have medical infertility. One in six Jewish couples experience infertility, and JFF helps them feel supported through this journey. The organization is seeing two new client trends, including 1) an increase in the number of single moms by choice and 2) an increase in multi-faith couples utilizing JFF’s emotional support services and receiving JFF Fertility Grants.

Moishe House – Russian-Speaking House
This grant will enable the expansion of Moishe House’s successful programs by continuing to support the recent addition of a fourth house in Brookhaven to serve the growing Russian-speaking Jewish population.

OneTable Atlanta
Atlanta-based OneTable engages Jewishly underserved niche populations, such as Jews of Color, LGBTQ, as well as underserved geographic areas in Atlanta. This grant will enable OneTable to recruit more hosts in these populations.

Repair The World — Solidarity Through Service
This grant is an investment in racial justice, educational learning, and a technology solution to serve and scale virtual volunteer experiences over MLK weekend.

Trybal Gatherings – Entrepreneur
Trybal’s core program is a four-day, three-night “camp” experience that provides a socially Jewish environment for millennials to have fun, connect with new people, and plug into a dynamic Jewish community during a purposeful Shabbat retreat. The retreat serves as a grassroots entry point to Jewish communal life. Trybal’s partnership model is designed to create mutual value and lead to sustainability for local supporters/partners. With tens of thousands of Birthright and camp alumni in our region, Trybal represents a major opportunity for Jewish millennial engagement.

Your Jewish Bridge – Communal Rabbi
Challenging the concept of membership as the sole “access card” to communal engagement and rabbinic support, YJB’s community rabbi provides life cycle and other rabbinic services to the larger community on a fee-for-service model. This grant supports Your Jewish Bridge in expanding its business model, strengthening its communal presence, and responding to pastoral needs in the community.

 

New Ideas for the Jewish New Year: Innovation in Worship for 5781

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

Your support for the community campaign has been a catalyst for new ideas through Federation’s Innovation Fund. This year, as we approach the Jewish high holidays, there’s been so much creativity right here in Atlanta.  Because we can’t sit close together, sing together, blow the shofar in small spaces, or give each other happy hugs, our community leaders have amped up their creativity. Inspired by local leaders and by Federation Innovation initiatives, you’ll be amazed by the unique ways this community is leapfrogging virtual limitations to personalize high holiday worship.

Your Jewish Bridge, funded by a Federation Innovation Propel grant, provides access to Jewish educational, life cycle, pastoral and rabbinic services to the unaffiliated Jewish community on a fee-for-service basis. Right before the high holidays, Pamela Gottfried, a rabbi at Congregation Bet Haverim and Your Jewish Bridge, is hosting a (virtual)  9/11 observance where she will livestream the ritual of “taking challah” on Congregation Bet Haverim’s YouTube channel. It involves separating a small piece of raw dough and burning it as a remembrance of the sacrificial offering in the Temple in Jerusalem. The ceremony will be in honor of those lost during the 9/11 attack, as well as those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the high holidays, Rabbi Gottfried will lead several discussions and sessions to enrich the meaning of the season. See the full schedule here.

Federation Innovation has made exciting things like this happen all over Atlanta. For the 2021 Campaign you can amplify your support and seed new ideas by designating a gift for Federation Innovation. Here’s how.

Congregation Gesher L’Torah is innovating with Kol Nidre Under the Stars, a drive-in worship experience. Cantor Zeldin and Rabbi Bernstein will Livestream the service from the sanctuary to your home, or the big screen. Experience the haunting melodies and the powerful message of Kol Nidre in a whole new way.

Temple Sinai is doing “Experience Tashlich” with socially distant tailgating at The Springs Cinema & Taphouse Drive-In Theatre. Bring your own tailgate setup, sit on the roof of your car, or simply tune in to the service from the comfort of your car via the FM station. Join us at 5:30 pm for music with Beth Schafer followed by the service beginning at 6:00 pm. Each car will receive a dissolvable paper to write your sins. Sinai staff, wearing necessary PPE, will anonymously collect these and bring them to flowing water to complete the mitzvah of Tashlich.”

Congregation Shearith Israel is offering socially distant gatherings in various neighborhoods on the afternoon of the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah (Sunday, September 20) so that people can see each other. They are also asking members to create VIDEO HUGs — 15-second video messages to be shared with the CSI community. Congregants are also turning photos of themselves into 3-D cutouts that “sit” in the pews to give the clergy a sense of support and community as they lead services.

Limmud Atlanta + Southeast has created High Holiday Journey in the Park: An Outdoor, Multisensory Experience, September 13, at Mason Mill Park. Timed entry, between 9:45 am and 4:00 pm allows individuals or groups of seven or fewer to take part safely. Using a mini-golf model, participants will move through five stations that safely combine Jewish wisdom with sensory experiences. Sign up here. For all ages!

The Moment for Innovation is Now

By Federation Innovation, INNOVATION

Jewish Diversity: The Time is Now!

In Biblical times, Abraham and Sarah were models of welcoming strangers and ensuring they felt comfortable. That’s the Jewish value that drives the Passport to Peoplehood program from Be’chol Lashon.  

It started at Camp Be’chol Lashon where campers use their ‘passports’ to ‘travel’ to a different country to encounter Judaism through the culture of the Jewish community in that region. The new-to-them culture welcomed the campers with food, dance, and experiences, all woven together by Judaism.  

Now, ignited by a Propel grant through Federation Innovation, Passport to Peoplehood is bringing these welcoming encounters outside of the camp walls and into the lives of Atlantans. They’re creating new ways to learn about and embrace ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse Jews. 

Federation Innovation ignites and funds community innovation, empowers changemakers, and encourages Jewish Atlanta to try new things that bring Jewish possibilities to life. 

Learn More about Federation Innovation

What Gabby Knew

While many people looked the other way, Gabby Spatt could see that mental health needs and substance abuse, were spiking in Atlanta over the last decade. So, as Executive Director of The Blue Dove Foundation, she started working on a Mental Health Toolkit to start addressing these issues. 

Just as CPR helps assist an individual having a heart attack, the Mental Health Toolkit and training helps assist someone experiencing a mental illness or substance abuse-related crisis. The Toolkit is meant to be a first line of defense – to help identify an issue and help the person find the best next steps.

Gabby and The Blue Dove Foundation leveraged a Propel grant from Federation Innovation to create the Toolkit and a second Propel grant this year to finalize and distribute it. 

Federation Innovation ignites and funds community innovation, empowers changemakers, and encourages Jewish Atlanta to try new things that bring Jewish possibilities to life. 

Learn More about Federation Innovation

Say "Shalom” to Sasha, Michelle & Gabi

Привет and Шалом!

That’s “Hello” and “Shalom” in Russian. That’s what Sasha, Michelle, and Gabi say in Atlanta’s new Russian-Speaking Moishe House.

Not only does this fourth and newest Moishe House now reach young adults in the Brookhaven area, with Sasha, Michelle, and Gabi at the helm, it’s a place for them to explore their shared Russian culture. In this house, Russian is spoken, and Russian-Jewish identity and outreach are the focus. Powered by a grant from Federation Innovation, they’re sharing their culture, amplifying Jewish diversity, and exploring their Jewish roots. 

Federation Innovation ignites and funds community innovation, empowers changemakers, and encourages Jewish Atlanta to try new things that bring Jewish possibilities to life. 

Learn More about Federation Innovation

Renewing Our Investment In Innovation & Resilience

By Federation Innovation, INNOVATION

Federation Innovation has awarded $182,000 in Propel Innovation Renewal Grants, supporting organizations, ideas, and people reimagining Jewish life in Atlanta. These grant renewals went to seven organizations that were originally awarded innovation funds in June 2019.

“These organizations were selected for grant renewals because they have demonstrated their impact through initiatives that are sparking long-term, systemic change and social good in Jewish Atlanta,” said Jori Mendel, Vice President, Federation Innovation. “Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there are emerging needs such as mobilizing volunteers to serve in and outside of our community (Repair the World), broader access to mental health services (The Blue Dove Foundation), and a different delivery system for aging services (AgeWell Atlanta) to name just a few.”

“Our goal is to support the bold work of these grant recipients in an exponential manner because we must invest in these visionary changemakers like never before.”

Additional Propel grants for new projects will be announced in just a few weeks to align with the evolving needs of the community.

Repair The World — Solidarity Through Service
To build consistent and meaningful volunteer and service experiences. This grant will support an investment in racial justice, educational learning and a technology solution to serve and scale virtual volunteer experiences over MLK weekend.

The Blue Dove Foundation – Mental Health Wellbeing Toolkit
This is a comprehensive project addressing mental health and substance abuse issues through a toolkit and training sessions for organizational leaders, community members and Jewish camps to serve as “mental health first responders.” The Jewish Mental Health Wellbeing Toolkit will address increased mental health needs that have arisen during COVID-19 and will be launched virtually.

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta – Jewish Education Collaborative
As part of a larger project to reimagine a model for Jewish education in Atlanta, this program leverages teachers as catalysts for change. This grant supports moving three supplemental education programs ready to experiment through a process with the national Jewish Education Project to rapidly innovate their models and provide learnings to greater Atlanta.

AgeWell Atlanta – Information and Referral Concierge
Atlanta is home to one of the fastest growing senior communities in the country. Most older adults prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, which increases the need for a coordinated system of care. This grant will enable AgeWell Atlanta to implement a data management system, which will enable it to track delivery of services, collect outcomes data, determine the impact of its work, and identify service gaps to further enable older adults and caregivers to access a coordinated continuum of services supporting maximum wellness, wherever they reside.

OneTable Atlanta
Atlanta-based OneTable will extend its focus on engaging Jewishly underserved demographic areas and niche populations, such as Jews of Color, LGBTQ, as well as underserved geographic areas in Greater Atlanta. This grant will enable OneTable to recruit more hosts in these populations and focus on converting attendees into repeat hosts.

Your Jewish Bridge – Communal Rabbi
Moving beyond the concept of membership as the sole “access card” to communal engagement and rabbinic support, the community rabbi provides life cycle and other rabbinic services to the larger community. This grant will support Your Jewish Bridge in expanding its business model, strengthening its communal presence and responding to emergent pastoral needs in the community.

Moishe House – Russian-Speaking House
This grant will further enable the expansion of Moishe House’s successful programs by continuing to support the recent addition of a 4th house in Brookhaven to serve the growing Russian-speaking Jewish population in Atlanta.