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2021 Propel Grantee Spotlight


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


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


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.   

“Makers” Compete to Solve Human Problems

By COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, Jewish Abilities Alliance

“Makers” Compete to Solve Human Problems
Georgia Tech’s Tikkun Olam Makers, known as TOM:GT, was the winning changemaker in Federation Innovation’s recent Propel Pitch competition. TOM is a worldwide movement that marshals the talents of student problem solversto address the needs of people with disabilities, known as “Need Knowers. TOM:GT achieves its mission through an annual makeathon. Structured similarly to a hackathon, the makeathon pairs student teams with need-knowers to create workable prototypes. Last weekend, in real time, six TOM maker teams at Georgia Tech showcased their solutions before a panel of judges, many of whom work in the disabilities space, which rated their projects and ranked the teams’ outputs. 

Judges hailed two teams as “winners” — Team 2, which created a way to manage and “reel in” oxygen hoses for people with COPD and other respiratory conditions; and Team 4, which created adaptive and supportive seating for people who want to use zip lines at Camp Twin Lakes, a camp for children facing serious illnesses, disabilities, and other life challenges. 

Here are the challenges the six TOM teams were given, and what they created to meet a range of realworld problems. 

  • Team 1: Notification Alert System:
    “Mom” is an older adult woman who is losing her hearing. She owns an iPhone. Occasionally, she receives texts, messages, alerts, and other notifications on her phone. Mom enjoys watching TV. She also enjoys working in her garden.
    The Challenge: The challenge is that when Mom listens to the TV, she does not hear the alerts on her iPhone because the volume of the TV obstructs the audio alert from the iPhone. This frustrates her because it could be a family member or friend with some timely information. She needs another method to let her know that the alert has occurred.
  • Team 2: Oxygen Concentrator Reel System | See what this winning team made on YouTube!
    “Mom” is an older adult woman who has emphysema due to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The condition requires that she have oxygen delivered to her nose for every breath. In her small home, she has an oxygen concentrator which generates the oxygen, and she wears a nasal cannula to deliver that oxygen into her lungs. Between the cannula and the concentrator is a flexible hose which enables her to move about the house freely. The tubing is 50’ in length and made of a clear, flexible PVC material. Mom walks through the house with the tube dragging behind her. The Challenge: Because of its length, the hose can become a hazard. It bunches up. It can become entangled on itself. It can catch or get wrapped around furniture. As Mom walks around the house, she has to cross over the hose or push it out of the way. Everyone who is in the house is always aware of the hose’s location and tries to avoid stepping on it.
  • Team 3: Zip Line Support System | See what this winning team made on YouTube!
    The Challenge: While at Camp Twin Lakes, one of the campers’ activities is a zip line. When the campers are using the zip line, it is important that the harness system keeps them upright and provides the necessary back, neck, and head support. Current seatback inserts do not provide all of the needed supports, meaning some campers are unable to participate in and enjoy the zip line.
  • Team 4: Canoe Supports
    The Challenge: Oftentimes, it is difficult to maintain balance when getting in and out of a canoe. The tendency of a canoe to tip over makes it dangerous for some campers to use. However, because the added support would create a heavier system and therefore a harder to move system, it is important that the support structure be removable for campers that do not require it.
  • Team 5: Letter Tracing Transcribing System
    Kyle hails from Atlanta, Georgia. He is 24 years old and grew up attending Temple Sinai and playing sports. Kyle has been an active member of the Jewish community his whole life. Kyle currently volunteers as a beekeeper and a honey salesman for a program called Hives for Honey. Prior to beekeeping, Kyle worked at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in the fitness center. Kyle is also a disability advocate and speaker. The ChallengeDue to Kyle’s dysgraphia, he has difficulty writing, making it hard to fill out forms that ask for information in multiple places (such as doctors’ offices, building sign-ins). Additionally, Kyle learns better by singing or visualizing something versus just hearing it. A device that provided a way to transcribe and/or trace words would help individuals like Kyle when filling out forms or other documents. 

Tikkun Olam Makers, First Place Winner at Propel Pitch


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


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, 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






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, 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.