The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix recently awarded $215,105 in discretionary grants, focusing on the areas of public affairs and leadership development. 

These grants benefit the Jewish community locally and in Israel through the unrestricted Fund for Jewish Philanthropy, the Jewish Women’s Endowment Fund and field of interest funds.

The largest grant, $50,000, went to the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix for the Jewish Community Relations Initiative. Last year, the board received a $54,000 planning grant from JCF to launch the initiative. In its planning year, the board conducted research, interviews, assessments and ongoing strategy efforts to inform and guide the second year’s work.  

A small working group comprising board leaders, consultants and community members will start to meet this month to create a job description for an executive director and begin initial work, according to Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman, the board’s liaison for the project. The plan is to hire an executive director over the next few months, with an official launch in November, after the High Holidays.

In addition to the Board of Rabbis, the following local organizations received grants:

The Hillel Jewish Student Center received $18,500 for the Student Leadership Initiative, an umbrella for new and expanded initiatives at ASU Hillel that are designed to train student leaders and give them the resources to lead the Jewish student community on campus. This grant includes $3,259 from the Max Schlissel Jewish Education Fund, a JCF Field of Interest Fund. 

JDC Entwine received $10,000 to launch the Phoenix Learning Center, which means Phoenix will join the ranks of cities that have Entwine Learning Networks, which organize events for young professionals that feature meaningful peer-to-peer education on global Jewish issues. Entwine is an initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The program will also develop a group of volunteer leaders who will conceptualize, host and implement Entwine’s peer-led events, and develop partnerships with local organizations working with similar demographics. 

Torah Day School of Phoenix received $9,500 for the Kids Succeed Program, which will provide one-on-one tutoring to students professionally evaluated for further educational assistance. A special education teacher will be hired to assist those students in grades 1-4 that need more help than the current resource teacher can provide.

Valley Beit Midrash received $7,500 for a new program partnership between PJ Library and Tribe for Tots, a local social group for Jewish families. Key objectives include outreach to unaffiliated parents who may be looking for their first Jewish connection – or families who are reluctant to attend events at Jewish venues – and to integrate these less-affiliated families with peers who are active members of the Jewish community.

The Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center received $1,500 for the Jewish Youth Group Sports League, a collaborative teen sports league among many Jewish youth groups in the Valley, including chapters of BBYO, NFTY, NCSY and USY. The league recently completed its first season; games were held Sunday evenings at the VOSJCC. At this time, basketball and kickball are available to students in grades 8-12 who are current members of a youth group.

West Coast NCSY received $10,000 for the Jewish Student Union(JSU) Culture Clubs, which provide Jewish teens an educational experience focusing on issues of Jewish pride, identity, social justice and connection to Israel. JSU Club meetings take place during the schools’ lunchtime breaks, and serve free kosher lunches. This grant will enable JSU to open new clubs at additional schools throughout the Greater Phoenix area. 

The Women’s Jewish Learning Center received $10,000 for the Women’s Leadership Institute, a collaborative project of PJ Library Arizona and The Women’s Jewish Learning Center that seeks to develop new, well-grounded Jewish communal female leadership, and create new and wider engagement networks.

Council for Jews With Special Needs received $2,608 from the Physically Disadvantaged Children’s Fund for summer camp inclusion resources.

Additionally, JCF put $9,394 into the JCF discretionary reserve, which may be used for requests that are cultivated or solicited by the foundation outside of the annual grant cycle, or for responses to emergencies, man-made or natural disasters affecting the Jewish community. 

For a list of grants for programs in Israel, totaling $86,103, click here.

JCF’s mission is to build a permanent source of financial support for a vibrant, enduring Jewish community. For more information about the grants or how to contribute to the foundation, visit or call 480-699-1717.


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