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Innovation Initiative and Jewish Abilities Atlanta Team Up

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, Jewish Abilities Alliance, Jewish Abilities Atlanta

Jewish Atlanta’s growth and development depend on our ability to address the ever-changing needs of our community with creativity, foresight, and courage. Federation’s Jewish Innovation Initiative offers local changemakers the opportunity to expand the dynamic ecosystem of our city and brings exciting global ventures into Atlanta. One such program is Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), a global movement of communities that create and disseminate affordable solutions that address the challenges faced by people with disabilities, older adults, and more. Teams of volunteer “makers” join those who have identified a need in the disability community to create concepts, working models, prototypes, or products that are specifically designed to solve identified challenges.

Last week, Jewish Atlanta was thrilled to host the TOM Fellowship Kickoff Event. 75 students from around the globe,  representing schools in the U.S., Israel, and other countries worked across a variety of disciplines, from engineering to occupational therapy to meet, share ideas, and become inspired by the ways they can work together to benefit the disabled community. It was an incredible example of the many ways Federation supports the Jewish landscape in Atlanta.

TOM, started in 2014 and has grown from one community in Israel to dozens of locations around the world. TOM’S partnership with Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta started through Hillels of Georgia. In 2019, Hillel was awarded a grant by the Innovation Initiative to introduce TOM to Georgia Tech. Since then, in collaboration with Hillel, the Innovation Fund has supported TOM’s growth. In January of 2019, TOM presented at Federation’s Propel Pitch Competition and was awarded as one of the events finalists.

Over the past 4 years, Federation’s Innovation and Jewish Abilities Atlanta (JAA) initiatives have been instrumental in providing resources to TOM such as grant funding, training, and help to build relationships with our local community. On Tuesday, JAA’s Training Coordinator Lindsey Flax led an accessibility training session for the TOM fellows. JAA promotes an inclusive community that celebrates the uniqueness and abilities of every person across the lifespan and lifts the voices and perspectives of people with disabilities. The training taught fellows about interacting with people with disabilities online and in person. Topics included inclusive language and social media accessibility.

Society disables people by designing everything to meet the needs of only people who are not disabled. For social media accessibility, Lindsey spoke about how to make social media content accessible for users with disabilities.

TOM’s Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Mikhal Kotlyar, says “The Jewish values behind TOM are so special, and it’s valuable to spread the idea of tikkun olam (repairing the world). The chance to have all our leaders and fellows in one place is unparalleled and allows us to capture the imaginations of these students in a different way.” 

The Innovation Initiative Invests in Local Jewish Changemakers

By INNOVATION

The Jewish Innovation Initiative funds cutting-edge ideas that come from and benefit Jewish Atlanta. Programs can be new, or hosted by existing organizations like synagogues, day schools, and more. Innovation Initiative investments, like JScreen’s grants for genetic cancer screening, change lives:

“I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Although I’m suffering a great deal…I want you to know that I feel blessed. Years ago, when my sister tested positive for breast cancer at 32, I wasn’t ready to do genetic testing. Now at 36, after having my two children, I took the big step to do the testing through JScreen. This information allowed me to be accepted into a specialized program at a top cancer hospital. The head of the program suggested we do an MRI, and it showed a mass. I got results shortly after…malignant. It is Stage 0 at this point. I’m extremely lucky. My sister was not as lucky. I have a double mastectomy scheduled. I’m terrified but I’m going to be ok. I’m a fighter! From now on, I will tell my story of how your program saved my life. If I had no knowledge of this mutation, I would be going for my mammogram again next year and we all know what that would look like. So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for all you do every single day.” – A grateful patient

Celebrate Women-Led Innovation

By CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

Jewish Atlanta is constantly evolving. Our city changes a little bit each day, and with those changes come people who are determined to solve problems and make our community richer and more welcoming than before. Federation’s Jewish Innovation Initiative supports groups and individuals in our city who do this important work. In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to highlight just two of the women-led organizations backed by the Innovation Initiative that are blazing new trails in Jewish Atlanta.  

JScreen at Emory University 

JScreen’s mission is to eliminate devastating genetic diseases through affordable, convenient, and comprehensive, genetic testing and genetic counseling, with a focus on the Jewish population. This now-national program was founded in Atlanta, and is led by Executive Director Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, MS, CGC, CCRC, and Director of Operations Felicia Mayer, MSEd, LPC. 

“Although JScreen is a national program, community-based funding enables us to focus on our community. Having Atlanta as our home base makes Innovation funding even more meaningful. With Innovation funding, we have been able to screen hundreds of Jewish Atlantans for hereditary cancer risk, providing them with life-saving information for their personal health and the health of their families.” 

Felicia Mayer, MSEd, Director of Operations at JScreen 

Ma’alot 

Ma’alot is a spiritual community transforming lives through music, nature & Jewish wisdom. This organization aims to build “synagogues without walls” and break the stigmas that many people carry about what Judaism “should” look like, and instead discover traditions that speak to our hearts and souls. 

“As a female rabbi ordained by a traditional institution, I personally relate to feelings of alienation and disenfranchisement from Jewish establishments. Ma’alot is part of a national shift of female entrepreneurs in the rabbinate to transform Jewish culture and community. We are grateful for the support of the Federation’s Innovation Fund for supporting a female-founded organization that is working to center marginalized voices and lead the community forwards.” 

– Rabbi Ariel Wolpe, Director and Founder of Ma’alot 

There are other Innovation-backed organizations that are led by exceptional Jewish women, including the Jewish Fertility Foundation and Jewish Climate Action Network of Georgia (JCAN-GA) The Jewish Innovation Initiative is proud to invest in local talent, especially when these genius minds are from populations that have traditionally been overlooked. By putting our resources into the brilliant women of tomorrow, we ensure that Jewish Atlanta’s brightest talents remain in Atlanta. 

Donate today to the Jewish Innovation Initiative and be part of Federation’s efforts to make Jewish Atlanta a welcoming place for big-thinkers.

Celebrating Women-Led Innovation

By CARING, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

Jewish Atlanta is constantly evolving. Our city changes a little bit each day, and with those changes come people who are determined to solve problems and make our community richer and more welcoming than before. Federation’s Jewish Innovation Initiative supports groups and individuals in our city who do this important work. In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to highlight just two of the women-led organizations backed by the Innovation Initiative that are blazing new trails in Jewish Atlanta.  

JScreen at Emory University 

JScreen’s mission is to eliminate devastating genetic diseases through affordable, convenient, and comprehensive, genetic testing and genetic counseling, with a focus on the Jewish population. This now-national program was founded in Atlanta, and is led by Executive Director Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, MS, CGC, CCRC, and Director of Operations Felicia Mayer, MSEd, LPC. 

“Although JScreen is a national program, community-based funding enables us to focus on our community. Having Atlanta as our home base makes Innovation funding even more meaningful. With Innovation funding, we have been able to screen hundreds of Jewish Atlantans for hereditary cancer risk, providing them with life-saving information for their personal health and the health of their families.” 

Felicia Mayer, MSEd, Director of Operations at JScreen 

Ma’alot 

Ma’alot is a spiritual community transforming lives through music, nature & Jewish wisdom. This organization aims to build “synagogues without walls” and break the stigmas that many people carry about what Judaism “should” look like, and instead discover traditions that speak to our hearts and souls. 

“As a female rabbi ordained by a traditional institution, I personally relate to feelings of alienation and disenfranchisement from Jewish establishments. Ma’alot is part of a national shift of female entrepreneurs in the rabbinate to transform Jewish culture and community. We are grateful for the support of the Federation’s Innovation Fund for supporting a female-founded organization that is working to center marginalized voices and lead the community forwards.” 

– Rabbi Ariel Wolpe, Director and Founder of Ma’alot 

There are other Innovation-backed organizations that are led by exceptional Jewish women, including the Jewish Fertility Foundation and Jewish Climate Action Network of Georgia (JCAN-GA) The Jewish Innovation Initiative is proud to invest in local talent, especially when these genius minds are from populations that have traditionally been overlooked. By putting our resources into the brilliant women of tomorrow, we ensure that Jewish Atlanta’s brightest talents remain in Atlanta. 

Why Innovation Matters in Jewish Atlanta 

By INNOVATION

Innovation is essential in any field—workplaces, industries, and communities should constantly be evolving and trying new things, otherwise, they stagnate. Federation’s Innovation Fund is one vital tool that keeps Atlanta’s Jewish community striving toward the future.    

The Innovation Fund aims to identify gaps in Atlanta’s Jewish landscape and fill them in. Our community is constantly changing, and Innovation seeks to both give legacy organizations the freedom to explore creative solutions and help new groups begin their work.   

Samantha Kurgan, Federation’s Vice President of Innovation, says “When there is a need in our community, we work with individuals and institutions to fill that void. Several new organizations have been seeded with grant money from Innovation. We also make grants to existing institutions that want to try something new, like address a changing need in the community, or expand their scope of support. A grant from the Jewish Innovation Fund allows them to be creative and think outside the box.”  

Innovation applicants can choose to ask for a one-year grant for a special program, or ongoing support over a span of up to three years. The hope is that Innovation funding can help these organizations get started, as it did for Ma’alot, Atlanta Jews of Color Council, Jewish Kids Group, and Blue Dove Foundation. Innovation is proud to be part of their journey as they continue to grow and impact our community.   

Jewish Fertility Foundation is a past recipient of an Innovation allocation that used their grants to launch their organization and has now grown large enough to open chapters in other cities across the nation. And Innovation grants allowed national organizations like Tikkun Olam Makers, 18 Doors, Repair the World, and Trybal to open chapters in Atlanta.  

Samantha is extremely proud of the work Federation does to support exciting Jewish ideas. “We look for the risk takers, the people who look at the world and say, ‘What if?’ The Jewish Innovation Fund keeps Atlanta’s Jewish community on the cutting edge and invests in local talent—literally and figuratively. By putting our resources into the brilliant thinkers of tomorrow, we ensure that Jewish Atlanta’s brightest talents remain in Atlanta.” 

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By Atlanta Jewish Foundation, CARING, COMMUNITY, Eric's Blog, GLOBAL JEWRY, INNOVATION, Jewish Camp Initiative, JEWISH JOURNEYS, People in Need, PHILANTHROPY

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SOJOURN Celebrates Pride in Atlanta

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

Atlanta is a bit of an outlier when it comes to celebrating national Pride month in June. In Atlanta the Pride parade and related events happen in October. Nevertheless, SOJOURN, Atlanta’s Jewish advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ issues, has two exciting events happening during June for national Pride month.

The first is a special edition of our Words Matter Book Club, which will be reading The Soul of the Stranger by Joy Ladin. Joy will lead a virtual discussion on June 22 at 7:30 PM via Zoom. There will also be a Pride Outside musical celebration. Registration details for both events can be found at www.sojourngsd.org/upcoming-events.

Bloom Grantee Brings Bagels to Intown Atlanta and Beyond!

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION

By: Nichole “Niki” Hetchkop, Founder of Beeline Bagels

“By making bagels more accessible and on-demand, Beeline Bagels is an innovative idea that celebrates Jewish culture and creates community. We are proud to support a more dynamic Jewish Atlanta by funding Beeline Bagel’s mobile cart. Here’s Nichole’s Bloom grant story.”  —Russell Gottschalk, Federation Director of Innovation.

As a Federation Innovation Bloom grantee, and a graduate of the Path course, I have made a lot of progress in my journey to deliver the best bagels to Atlanta through the creation of my company, Beeline Bagels.Over the last six months I’ve refined my mission and overcome a lot of the logistical hurdles presented in creating a food business in Atlanta. My Bloom grant allowed me to think way beyond my initial concept.

My first inclination was to sell bagels through a brick-and-mortar space, but it was proving to be a struggle with Covid and getting the space I needed to create my bagel magic. That’s when I decided to go mobile. The Bloom grant allowed me to invest in developing a custom mobile cart, one that would allow space for the pre-packaged bagels and a place to refrigerate the cream cheeses. I worked with a company in Bayside, NY to create this cart that includes custom ice plates at the bottom of the cart to keep cream cheeses cold and has room for 200 bagels. The wheels on the cart allow me to set up shop mostly anywhere!”

The grant has allowed me to practice and perfect my bagel-making skills. I said yes to every opportunity to make my bagels for a new person, including creating samples for the Kosher Atlanta BBQ Festival. I made bagels for all my friends and asked them for feedback and to help spread the word. One friend who tried my bagel and is a contributor to Good Day Atlanta named Beeline Bagels as one of the best bagels in Atlanta – something I now proudly proclaim in my marketing.

I am also focused on becoming an event vendor. My goal is to book wedding brunches, bar/bat mitzvahs, fundraisers, tailgates, events in the Jewish community, and beyond. Because I am mobile, the geographic potential is endless! I have an amazing network of talented friends who have helped me photograph my bagels, build my website, create my logo and help design my merchandise so I can sell apparel and create another revenue stream. I can’t forget to mention the dozens of family and friends who have provided me with honest feedback to help get my bagels and schmear to where they are today.

My overarching goal, one day, is to have multiple carts where I can employ adults with special needs to help sell goods from the carts. For now, I am continuing to focus on my go-to-market strategy, revising as I go, while creating heavy buzz for Beeline Bagels. As a one-woman business, I am determined to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible to establish Beeline Bagels as the go-to bagel vendor in Atlanta for all Jewish events and beyond.

I thank the Bloom Grant team for believing in me, and I look forward to wheeling my cart into an event for them soon. For all bagel orders and inquiries for events, please e-mail BeelineBagels@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @BeelineBagels and visit us on our website at www.beelinebagels.com

Innovation JEDI Night

By INNOVATION

“Justice, Justice, you shall pursue!” is a well-known, biblical instruction. However, it was only last year when “Justice” was first included alongside Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in corporate, educational, and other settings dedicated to enlightened values (see Dr. Kimberly A Truong’s “From DEI to JEDI” here). So, if “Justice” is so important that it needed to be repeated in a biblical commandment, why has it only recently returned to popular consciousness? I think there are two important considerations: 

  • Justice for all is an aspirational value because of America’s individualism and our complex modern society. It is important to note the active voice in “Justice, Justice, you shall pursue!” rings true millennia later. Then and now, we are pursuing Justice with the knowledge that we may never capture it. 
  • Last year was a tumultuous period of survival as we weathered (and continue to weather) a global pandemic while grappling with societal inequities that exposed “essential workers” and other marginalized communities. The shift from DEI to JEDI was urgent and necessary; I encourage you to click through Dr. Truong’s article referenced above for more context and nuance.  

For similar reasons, Equity for all is also an aspirational value. We lead with “JE” at the front of the JEDI acronym to signify their greater demand of our attention. In 2021, Diversity and Inclusion should be a celebrated and strong baseline that enables our community to do the more challenging work. 

If you embody a JEDI value(s), either as an organization or an individual, please consider responding to our Call for Presenters. The form will be open until end of day, Friday October 8. 

Any questions? Contact our Director of Innovation, Russell Gottschalk.

Propel Grantees – FY22

By Federation Innovation, INNOVATION

PROPEL FY22 RENEWAL GRANTS:

Agewell: AgeWell Atlanta is a collaboration between Jewish Home Life, Jewish Family & Career Services, the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.  With one call, you will be connected to an Information & Referral Specialist who will assist you with accessing programs and services provided by our partner agencies and other community partners.

Be’chol Lashon: Atlanta’s Jewish community is diverse and becoming increasingly more so but our legacy institutions struggle to address this demographic. Also, as a Southern city, Atlanta has a complex history with regard to race. We propose bringing Be’chol Lashon’s diversity training workshops and educational resources to create greater awareness of racial and ethnic diversity in Atlanta’s Jewish Community. The goal is to provide the tools for organizations to fulfill their mission of being more inclusive. Diverse trainers will facilitate community conversations about race and identity in a Jewish context, followed up by personal consultations with each organization.

Career Up Now: At Career Up Now we believe in the power of Jewish women and are dedicated to gender equity and balance. Our Women of Wisdom programs center upon the intersection of career advancement and shared Jewish wisdom. 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. By encouraging the formation of organic mentorships and soulful connections, we offer access and opportunities for emerging Jewish women professionals to engage intergenerationally with women industry leaders for to advance each other and repair the world.

Jewish Education Collaborative: The Jewish Education Collaborative works to advance compelling part-time Jewish education. How can we engage more children and families in meaningful Jewish learning that will help them to thrive in the world? How can we explore new models that respond to the needs of modern families? How can we make Atlanta a thrilling model for collaboration and innovation in Jewish education?

Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM): 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. Over 75 GT students will participate in maker teams to create a prototype for their need-knower to take home. The prototypes will be inexpensive to make, and open source, so that others in the TOM Global community can benefit as well.

Trybal Gatherings: Trybal’s core program is a 4-day, 3-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. This retreat is designed to serve as a grassroots entry point to Jewish communal life. Our 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 the region, Trybal represents a major opportunity for Jewish millennial engagement.

 

 

PROPEL FY22 NEW GRANTS:

Owned and led by Jewish women of color, Atlanta Jews of Color Council (AJOCC) is a nonprofit organization committed to fostering a more equitable community. AJOCC has set an ambitious mission to drive actionable institutional change by amplifying the local voices of historically marginalized and underrepresented Jews of Color.  Its core belief is that local JOC should have agency in the planning and operations of their local community.  AJOCC advocates for racial equity in hiring, multicultural inclusion, and local leadership. Through intentional programming, it also builds welcoming, affirming spaces where members and co-conspirators develop a deeper connection to Judaism and Jewish community.

The Esther and Herbert Taylor Oral History Collection, housed in archives at The Breman Museum, consists of more than 1,000 interviews that document Jewish life in Georgia and Alabama. This invaluable community asset is currently undergoing a 21st century update that is exponentially increasing access. Nearly 200 interviews have been cataloged in Aviary, a state-of-the-art online platform for oral history description, which displays media alongside a timestamped, annotated transcript and index. With support from the Innovation fund, The Breman will continue growing this archive with dozens of more interviews cataloged and new oral history interviews captured as well.

The Jewish community is at high risk for certain hereditary cancers. Genetic testing and counseling give people information and medical options that play a key role in cancer prevention. This JScreen initiative focuses on educating the Atlanta Jewish community about their risks and the importance of testing. The goal is to help our community reimagine a life where no one has to say, “if only I had known about my cancer risk.” JScreen will help people access the testing they need to live longer, healthier lives.

Founded by Rabbi Ariel Wolpe, Ma’alot is a relational and spiritual community open to anyone and built with those it will serve. Ma’alot brings authentic, intimate, experiential Jewish experiences inviting people to bring their whole selves and leaving nothing outside the door.

During the pandemic last year, leaders at PJ Library noticed a drop-off in virtual engagement due to “zoom fatigue.” Families expressed that they were less likely to “do Jewish” because they were overwhelmed by the effects of COVID-19. So the PJ team pivoted by launching a first-ever grant cycle to empower parents to create meaningful holiday events that fit their Jewish, social, and safety needs. It was a hit with more demand than the funding pool can supply. Fed Inno’s Propel grant will enable hundreds of families to create their own Jewish experiences with like-minded peers.

Political Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) seeks to inspire a new generation of Blacks and Jews to lead active, engaged, and empowered lives. PLOT participants will convene over a 6-week period to meet each other, identify issues of bigotry, and engage in courageous conversations to build future alliances to fight racism and antisemitism through public policy, advocacy, and activism.