By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm surrounding a new grant program designed to assist nonprofit Jewish organizations serving the Greater Dallas area.
“Everyone on the committee is excited about the potential of these grants,” explained Michael Waldman, chairman of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation Grants Distribution Committee. “We are thrilled that we have been given this opportunity and personally, I can’t wait to see how creative our community will be with its proposals.”
The 2015 First Annual Dallas Community Foundation Community Grants event is expected to provide individual grants of up to $36,000 to help promote an organization’s creative, cultural or critical idea or project, officials said.
Applications are highly encouraged.
Throughout the last fiscal year — which just ended July 31 — the Foundation distributed more than 3,986 grants totaling $12,945,193 in partnership with its fundholders, according to the Foundation. This includes those who are no longer living but who continue to give through perpetual endowment funds.
This special grants distribution cycle will distribute funds in addition to those grants and will be funded by the permanent endowment of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation.
This process is being marketed to organizations as the first to clarify to grant seekers that this funding was not available in recent years.
However, the Foundation’s Distribution Committee historically distributed grants to community organizations in a very similar manner from 1982 to 2001 because the Foundation took a new focus to issue bonds which help to fund new facilities at 10 Jewish agencies in Dallas, according to the Foundation.
Sandy Kaufman, committee member, said during this 2015 annual cycle the committee will focus on innovation and impact.
“The emphasis will be on a few selected causes instead of many smaller ones,” she said. “We reached this consensus to follow the current trend in Foundation grant making.”
Meyer L. Bodoff, president and CEO of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, said the goal of this new program is to try to make a bold impact in the community.
“If someone has an idea that can change the landscape, but needs a major hit to do it, then we should encourage it,” Bodoff said. “The Foundation exists to support the entire community, supporting all nonprofit organizations in partnership with our most-generous donors. What sets us apart is our focus on the future. This renewed grant distribution process is another example of our efforts to build a strong, vibrant future for our community.”
Michael Waldman agreed.
“Dallas is often viewed as forward-thinking and as a training ground for organizations seeking national leadership,” Waldman said. “We have big visions for the future and are known for transforming those visions into reality,” he said. “I am hoping that this committee will provide the impetus for more of our local organizations and synagogues, big and small, to dream big and accomplish something great, to once again provide an example of how we do things right in Dallas, so that our entire community can benefit and all can learn and follow in our example.”
Committee member Mark Kreditor said the ideas behind this project are truly invigorating for everyone involved.
“This is a huge opportunity and so different,” Kreditor said. “It allows the Foundation to create a meaningful impact on a number of organizations, to possibly fund really creative projects benefiting the entire community with new dollars.”
The 2015 application process is streamlined into two parts:
Phase I begins Aug. 6 with a deadline for submissions set for Friday, Sept. 25.
It requires that organizations wishing to apply submit (online) a one-page letter of interest outlining their idea or project — which can be categorized as Creative, Cultural or Critical. This is in the hope that every organization and synagogue will be able to easily submit one funding request for consideration without wasting time gathering financial information and details that aren’t necessary (unless asked to proceed to Phase II of the process).
To qualify, organizations need to have 501(c)(3) organization classification or affiliation, have board of directors oversight, serve the Greater Dallas area, have been in existence and operating a minimum of one year and submit only one application annually.
Grant awards will be up to $36,000 maximum (total available $108,917). The number of grants will be determined based on available dollars and grant proposals. They will be for direct project costs only which may include related personnel, administrative and office expenses, not capital expenditures. These will be one-time grants only, although applicants can reapply annually.
Waldman said it is an honor to serve on a committee comprising such a diverse group of people who each contribute meaningfully to the process.
“Although the Foundation committee is officially comprised of representatives from the Foundation, the Federation and the community at large, each individual’s background represents a multitude of interests and knowledge,” he said. “Collaborating for the betterment of the community and knowing we can initiate something special for Dallas is inspiring to all of us.”
To apply, officials say, simply access the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s web page at www.djcf.org.