PPP Loans Provide Much-Needed Assistance for Beneficiary Agencies

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When the COVID-19 pandemic reached northeast Ohio, like most businesses, local agencies and institutions in Jewish Cleveland worried about how they could continue to serve the community’s needs in a safe manner and under a new economic reality.

So when the federal government offered a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) immediately stepped forward to provide step-by-step assistance in helping the qualifying organizations with the complicated and lengthy application process. Overall, the Federation was able to assist in beneficiary agencies receiving more than $17 million through the PPP loan.

“The PPP loan came from early efforts out of Washington to address the economic impacts during this pandemic,” said Mark Gurvis, JFNA executive vice president. “It was an approach which provided funding to employers to create incentives for people who were employed. This was something we focused on this early on and pushed that nonprofits would be included. We wanted to make sure that any Jewish organization could get the necessary funds possible for them.”

However, many local organizations here in Jewish Cleveland faced challenges in the process of applying for the loan. With numerous for-profit and nonprofit organizations trying to apply in such a short amount of time, on top of the detailed application, JFNA and the Cleveland Federation became a saving grace for the smaller organizations.

“I wouldn’t have gotten a PPP loan if it weren’t for JFNA’s intervention and the Cleveland Federation,” said Sarah Livingston, director of Hillel at Ohio University. “ Being connected to the Cleveland Federation is incredible. Staff in Cleveland and at JFNA dove head-first and helped me get a loan from a local bank in Cleveland.”

Because Hillel at Ohio University was able to receive the PPP loan, they were able to not only continue to pay the staff, but she was able to continue providing Friday night Shabbat services, a virtual Passover Seder program, and other on-campus Jewish programming – even though she wasn’t able to interact with the students face-to-face. “Hillel helps keep the Jewish spirit alive while students are away from home,” added Livingston. “Because of this loan, we were able to continue building Jewish life on campus.”

The same help can be said for the local synagogues. Suburban Temple Kol Ami added outdoor Shabbat services, virtual activities, and more. Temple President Matthew Lehman said it’s indicative of the community we have here in Cleveland. He was able to speak with other synagogue presidents to share tips and challenges. “Everyone was willing to help each other and be that source of strength for our congregations,” said Lehman. “Our executive director, Brett Shankman, recognized early that we needed to leverage our resources. We were able to learn so much from a national and local angle of what to do and how to apply for the loans.”

“We are so grateful that we were able to be so helpful and we are looking for how we can continue to build our Jewish communities,” said Gurvis. “This is the core of what Federations are in business to do. We’ve always known that this shines brightest when there is crisis – we are able to mobilize as a system, and we are able to mobilize together. That’s the collective action that Federations are uniquely able to do. We’re in a historic moment in the world, and to the degree that we can rise in that moment, that’s what we’re going to try and do.”

For more information on the PPP loan, contact Margot Tomer at mtomer@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2835.

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