Federation offers $2 million for educational programs

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has some money to give away for programs targeting Jewish youth.

Federation has put out a request for proposals for formal and informal Jewish educational programs based on four age groups it has identified as needing the most attention: birth to preschool, preschool to first grade, the years surrounding bar and bat mitzvah, and the later teen years leading into college. While in the past Federation awarded almost $2 million to such programs, it did so based on the wide spectrum of programming ideas that came from youth groups, camps, JCCs, schools and synagogues. This more focused approach targets age brackets when parents or kids are making significant decisions about their Jewish future, said Jonathan Jacoby, Federation’s senior vice president for programs for Jewish life.

“What we are thinking about is in what ways can we provide and support the best, most enduring and most accessible Jewish experience for as many Jewish children as possible between birth and high school,” Jacoby said.

Three types of grants ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 will be awarded. The first are grants for programs at broad-based organizations — Jewish community centers, youth groups, BJE — where participation is open to anyone from the Jewish community. Federation will also entertain proposals from broad-based organizations for smaller program development grants. A request for proposals went out to those organizations this week and are due by Sept. 7.

In the fall, Federation will begin accepting proposals from membership organizations such as synagogues and schools.

The programming grants are on top of about $2 million Federation allocates to day schools and supplementary schools for scholarships and operations.

Jacoby hopes the targeted approach for programs will transform key points on the Jewish journey. He cites the bar mitzvah years as an example.

“We’ve known for a really long time that there is a precipice right after bar and bat mitzvah, and most kids who have a bar or bat mitzvah just fall off that cliff, and they may not come back to live a fulfilling Jewish life again,” Jacoby said. “But as long as bar or bat mitzvah is seen as a final destination point for a Jewish child, that is what it is going to be. We want to develop and support programs that celebrate it as a rite of passage, as opposed to making it a final destination.”

For more information, contact Alina Kaufman at akaufman@jewishla.org.