Federation Allocates $33M
- Share This Story
by Amanda Koehn
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s board of trustees unanimously approved $33.7 million to be allocated to fund international, national and local agencies July 6.
In total, $16.6 million will go to local human and education services, $11.9 million to international programs, and $759,620 to national agencies – a similar distribution to last year, yet with nearly $800,000 more allocated in total this year.
The Federation’s 2017 Campaign for Jewish Needs raised $31.7 million, which was announced in December 2016. A total of $33.7 million was allocated, after adding funds from the United Way Fund (for local needs) and endowment funds.
Among local causes receiving funds, Jewish Family Service Association received the largest pot of $2.6 million. The Mandel Jewish Community Center, Fund for the Jewish Future and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland followed. The same organizations also comprised the top funding slots last year.
Jeff Wild, allocations committee chair, said compared to last year, each local agency received the same funds or more than the previous year, in part because there was more to allocate. He said JFSA specifically receives a high level of funding because the agency both meets the Federation’s core criteria for funds and they have fewer other funding sources compared to other agencies.
“Very often (JFSA is) the go-to agency when there are real challenges in the community,” Wild said. “They are also going to be very heavily challenged when it comes to cuts in the Medicaid reimbursement rates, that will be upcoming over the next number of months.”
The largest of the funds going to international efforts went to the Jewish Federations of North America – totaling $7.1 million, which includes support for the Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and ORT.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Hunger Relief in the former Soviet Union saw an increase in funds compared to last year’s allocations and will receive $419,580, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.
Wild pointed to “tremendous need” in Russia.
“For many, many years the former Soviet Union has been a focus because of the struggling Jewish population and its size,” Wild said.
Wild said during the highest-fundraising campaigns around 2007 and 2008, funds were equally distributed over international and local causes. However since the Great Recession, when campaign funds decreased, the Federation allowed a larger portion to stay local, while international funding decreased by about 10 percent. Wild said since more money has been raised in recent years, its goal is to distribute more funds internationally to even out the divide.
Gary L. Gross, board chair of the Federation, said members of the Cleveland Jewish community vary in whether they want money spent overseas versus locally, and the Federation tries to value both equally.
“I think what makes our community so great is we don’t try to pick and choose, except in small ways,” Gross said. “Our goal is to meet the needs of Jews everywhere.”
Among national groups receiving funds, National Alliance led, receiving $477,700. National Alliance includes groups like Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League received $58,500 each.
Funds going to local security saw a 67 percent increase over the previous year, totaling $435,000 for 2017, which Wild said is the most “rapidly increasing” area needing funds, pointing to the work of the Federation’s security team.
Gross said increased security funding is particularly noteworthy as just a few years ago they were spending significantly less on it.
“If you look around the country there have been terrible things that have happened in different Jewish communities and I feel very good that we are investing in security for the community,” he said. “Hopefully,
God-willing, nothing will ever happen and we will have just spent the money.”
Wild said the Federation begins working to allocate funds before the campaign end amount is announced and takes about nine months in total, involving several subcommittees. Subcommittee members also work as liaisons to local organizations, where they help determine needs and the impact funds would have.
“As important as allocating the dollars is making sure that we partner with agencies on making sure our dollars are spent efficiently and effectively and to help them identify systemic and agency specific issues, and then also help them solve them,” Wild said, adding the allocations committee holds between 65 and 80 meetings each year.
To Gross, knowing there will still be needs that aren’t met – pointing to nursing homes needing additional staff, and scholarships needed to make Jewish day schools more affordable – drives him to invest his efforts in this year’s upcoming campaign.
“When I think about the upcoming campaign, I’m thinking about the things that we are not able to do,” Gross said.