The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Thursday announced it awarded $3.7 million in “Reimagine Grants” to help 45 local nonprofits and synagogues during the pandemic, making it the most successful grant cycle in the foundation’s history in terms of the amount of money given and the number of recipients.

The foundation — which over the last 12 years has given more than $1 billion to nonprofits — reimagined its grant program in 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing needs of Los Angeles’ Jewish institutions. The $3.7 million awarded this cycle brings the foundation’s pandemic-related grant distribution to about $12 million since March 2020.

“Our newly created Reimagine Grants are a robust response to the pandemic and support Los Angeles-area Jewish communal institutions as they adapt and transition into a new reality. In response to the pandemic, we swiftly executed a full pivot of Foundation institutional funding initiatives to address emerging and fast-changing needs,” said Marvin Schotland, Jewish Community Foundation president and CEO.

“These newest grants, together with our earlier COVID-19 Response Grants, reflect a 360-degree perspective to boost programs and initiatives doing critical work in our Jewish and general communities.”

The “Reimagine Grants” were created in consultation with nonprofits and other foundations in Los Angeles and across the U.S. to understand how organizations can more effectively collaborate, as well as to understand people’s evolving needs and workers’ mental health needs during intense job demands.

Of the 45 grants, 22 were awarded to the following nonprofits:

— ETTA, the Miracle Project, Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, which offer hybrid program adaptations for people with disabilities;

— Aish Tamid of Los Angeles, Hillel 818, Los Angeles Hebrew High School, Moishe House and Tzedek America, which offer hybrid program adaptations for children and young adults;

— IsraAID Global Humanitarian Assistance, Shalom Institute Camp and Conference Center and Trybal Gatherings, which offer organizational professional development;

— At The Well, Hillel At UCLA, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Los Angeles Jewish Home For The Aging, which provide community health and wellness services;

— The Braid and Moving Traditions for their work toward diversity, equity and inclusion;

— American Jewish University, Builders of Jewish Education, Fuente Latina, New Teacher Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which provide Jewish, Israel and Holocaust education.

“At The Well is grateful for The Foundation’s generous funding in support of our mission to enhance the well-being of modern women through ancient Jewish practices. Our core offering is the Well Circle — a group of 6-12 women who come together to celebrate the monthly holiday of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon) in transformational ways — being present in Jewish time, sharing stories of their lives, and practicing Jewish ritual for healing and wellness,” said Sarah Waxman, founder and executive director of grant recipient At The Well.

“This grant will spark Well Circles for hundreds of 40+ year-old women in Los Angeles, offering a source of deep connection, wholeness and belonging at a time when many are experiencing isolation, loss, anxiety, and fear.”

Fuente Latina said it would use its funding to develop its new bilingual digital media brand FLx.

“Over the next two years, FLx will launch on Instagram and Facebook, building an online audience from scratch to create channels of engagement between non-Jewish and Jewish Latinx under 40. This effort will support a stronger, healthier and more vibrant Jewish LA,” said Bertha Merikanskas, executive director of Fuente Latina.

The foundation also provided 23 grants to synagogues, which are located across Los Angeles and are conservative, reformed, nondenominational and orthodox.

The selected synagogues were Adat Ari El, Beth Jacob Congregation, Beth Shir Shalom, Burbank Temple Emanu El, IKAR, Kol Tikvah, Leo Baeck Temple, Nachson Minyan, Nefesh, Shomrei Torah, Sinai Temple, Stephen S. Wise Temple, Temple Ahavat Shalom, Temple Aliyah, Temple Beth Am, Temple Beth Hillel, Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park & Eagle Rock, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Temple Isaiah, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Temple Ramat Zion, Valley Beth Shalom and Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

“Following the last year and half of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become achingly apparent that we are all human beings in need of attention and care. As a communal organization, we at Sinai Temple are grateful to the Foundation for recognizing our commitment to care for our staff with significant resources to provide a variety of services that specifically attend to our staff as fellow human beings and important members of our extended family. We can now mindfully respond to their personal mental health needs, as well,” said Carolyn Hoffman, director of the Sinai Temple Mental Health Center. The Sinai Temple received the funding to use toward staff mental health and wellness.

The Jewish Community Foundation awarded funds to synagogues for uses such as professional development, mental health services for staff, engagement and membership and more.

“The Foundation is proud to be offering significant support for the professional development and well-being of synagogue leadership and staff,” Schotland said. “Our rationale is that by taking care of the people who lead synagogues, we can by extension positively affect the well-being of the entire membership and organization as a whole, potentially reaching thousands of people.

“The potential impact of these grants is significant,” added Schotland. “This funding for mental health and well-being is an entirely new space for the Foundation. Years from now we may look back and say these initiatives were among the most innovative, forward-looking grants the Foundation ever made.”

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