The Jewish Fund

As it is said, “When one door closes, another opens.” Opening new opportunities to provide for the wellbeing of those in need in Metro Detroit, The Jewish Fund was established in 1997 from the sale proceeds of Sinai Hospital to the Detroit Medical Center. As a legacy of Sinai Hospital, The Jewish Fund continues the tradition of assuring compassionate care and services for those in need through its annual grant-making.

Since inception 21 years ago, The Jewish Fund continues to give grants of over $3 million a year – about 5 percent of its $62 million asset base. Commenting on the Fund’s support over the years – and its recent three-year grant to Jewish Family Service (JFS), JFS Executive Director Perry Ohren stated: “Thanks to The Jewish Fund, thousands of people have access to transportation and support services to age at home, mental health services to support teens and their families and clinical support for patients in hospice care.  This Fund– with its 37-member Board of Directors — cares deeply about the community and uses a lot of intellectual rigor to keep our community organizations – and agencies like JFS – on their toes to do the best job. The Fund never throws money at problems; they inspire and seed innovative projects.”

An eye on innovation through partnership

“We face hard choices for limited dollars at a time when there is much need,” said Margo Pernick, Executive Director of The Jewish Fund, at its Annual Meeting in November. “As we continue to look for causes that represent the best possible fit with our mission, you’ll notice that we are starting to use the term Grant Partner rather than Grantee. As of this past year, many of our activities have heightened our awareness and appreciation of those organizations which we support through our grant-making. Each brings an essential value to this reciprocal relationship. We think the term Grant Partner accurately represents the close collaboration that exists in our relationships.”

In her remarks at the meeting, Board Chair Nancy Grosfeld described how rewarding her first year in service has been – awarding many new and promising grants to support important community needs. “Typically, we learn of community needs, and potential methods to address them, primarily from community professionals, who are a vital resource for this information. Three years ago, our Board decided that one of the best ways to prioritize our response to these needs was to go directly to the source – the people most at-risk in experiencing these needs.”

Based on the findings of an independent survey, The Jewish Fund supported the launch of two key initiatives in the community:

  • JHELP, a new community website and live helpline directing users to social services, resources and referrals available in the community.
  • We Need to Talk, a multi-pronged community response to teen mental health needs including a website, parent and teen workshops, and community programs.

Among the 29 organizations receiving funds for the 2017-2018 grant cycle are  Congregation Beth Chabad of Greater Detroit in the second year of a three-year $195,000 grant to expand infrastructure and build its foundation for sustainable growth; a $189,200 grant to Farber Hebrew Day for the installation of a security infrastructure for its new school building; a first year of a two-year $149,536 grant to Affirmations, to  improve access to quality health care for the LGBT community; a first year of three-year grant to Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association to achieve national accreditation for a community-based doula program. A second-year of a three-year grant of $125,000 to Starfish Family Service, to implement Dad’s Baby Power, a parenting program for high-risk fathers in Wayne County.

New grants approved and announced for the 2019-2020 cycle include:  

  • BBYO: a three-year grant totaling $204,000 to hire a social worker to support the needs of the teen participants, staff and parents
  • Hillel Day School: a three-year grant totaling $111,340 to incorporate responsive classrooms for an emotional learning to its teaching model
  • Care House of Oakland County: a three-year grant totaling $36,350 to provide child abuse prevention training to medical professionals throughout Metro Detroit
  • D.L.I.V.E (Detroit Life Is Valuable Everyday): a three-year grant totaling $450,000 to enhance and expand D.L.I.V.E’s operations based at Sinai Grace Hospital to improve outcomes for young survivors of community violence in Detroit. D.L.I.V.E. is also the recipient of a $19,000 grant from The Jewish Fund Teen Board for the purchase of a van to provide much needed transportation for those the program serves
  • Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation: a three-year grant totaling $195,000 to operate a day center in Detroit for people with dementia and their care givers
  • Planned Parenthood Mid and Southeast Michigan: a two-year grant totaling $127,260 to increase access to reproductive care services with the addition of two satellite clinics in Detroit

 Portrait of the 2018 Robert Sosnick Award Recipient

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland-Mercy Dental Center is the recipient of two Jewish Fund grants  totaling $125,000 that include a three-year grant to support the expansion of the Dental Center and the addition of one-year challenge grant to support a community-based dental care coordinator.

The Mercy Dental Center expanded its services in 2013 with a grant from the The Jewish Fund to provide uninsured individuals and people with disabilities access to a full range of dental services, from preventive care to specialty dental procedures. A unique feature of the program is an accredited graduate residency program– with three residents currently participating and a fourth about to begin this year. Recently, the Center has renovated its facilities, which are state-of-the-art and accessible to those with physical adaptation needs. The center also has employed a community-based dental care coordinator, thanks to a Challenge Grant from The Jewish Fund in 2018.

About the Sosnick Award

Established in memory of Robert Sosnick, whose bold vision led to the creation of The Jewish Fund, the Robert Sosnick Award of Excellence represents the ideals and standards of achievements that have become the hallmarks of the community’s agencies and social service organizations. Innovation, collaboration, accountability, impact on quality of life, management of resources and sustainability are all key criteria for a program’s selection for this annual award with includes a $25,000 prize.