Seven local Jewish agencies are the beneficiaries of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s new Fund for Innovative Capacity Building. The agencies were notified at the end of June that they would receive these grants for special one-time projects that aim to help the agencies improve their operations and strengthen their organizations.
Thanks to the support and initiative of a generous philanthropist, the Federation was able to create this new donor-directed fund that will inject a total of $100,000 into local partner agencies in 2014. This funding is in addition to the close to $2.5 million dollars the Federation allocates to local Jewish agencies each year.
Through this fund, $150,000 of new funds will be available to partner agencies in 2014 and 2015. The next round of funding will be available in January and Federation partner agencies will be invited to submit applications by October 31. The final round of grants from this fund will be distributed in late 2015.
The Sephardi Association of Ottawa is one of the agencies to receive a grant from this fund. It will enable the association to undertake a governance restructuring and strategic planning process under the guidance of an expert in the field.
“Our small organization has been working very hard over the past few years to reinvigorate Sephardi presence in the national capital. We are very keen to share our traditions and customs within the broader Ottawa Jewish community and contribute to the diversity of this community,” said Clemy Srour, president of the Sephardic Association.
“Despite a limited budget, and very limited human resources, I believe we have been very successful in our work to date. However, in order for us to go the next step, we need to modernize our governance structure and build a clear strategic plan. Funding from the Fund for Innovative Capacity Building will go a long way to help us meet this goal,” he added.
Other beneficiaries of the new fund include: Hillel Ottawa, which received funding for new computers and a new smartphone app, which will help them stay connected to students on Ottawa’s three university campuses; the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, which received a grant to hire an audio-visual consultant to help assess the needs for new audio-visual equipment in the social hall; Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad, which received a grant to install new screens and projectors in the main gathering hall of their new facility currently under construction; and Jewish Family Services received funding to partner with local Jewish day schools to provide child safety workshops dedicated to informing, educating and sensitizing the community, in a culturally sensitive way, to the issues of child safety, including abuse.
The final grant recipients were Torah Academy and Rambam Day Schools who partnered together to apply for funding to purchase SMART boards for their respective schools, and to hold joint training sessions.
One of the goals of this fund was to promote more collaboration among agencies, and the hope was that projects would be initiated that would benefit multiple agencies. Bram Bregman, vice-president of community building at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, is pleased that one of the side-benefits of the fund has been to increase collaboration among agencies.
“Torah Academy and Rambam have come up with new ways to collaborate, and Jewish Family Services has collaborated with all the Jewish day schools for their child safety workshops,” Bregman said. “All the beneficiaries are able to use these dollars to carry out initiatives that would not otherwise have been possible. The innovation fund is the latest example of Federation’s commitment to promote collaboration and partnership, and this fits in perfectly with the organization’s new strategic plan.”