The Jerusalem Foundation has always assisted and empowered the people of Jerusalem, and during this challenging and unprecedented year we continued to support the most vulnerable populations in all parts of the city. In many ways these challenges also proved to be opportunities, as the Jerusalem Foundation played a key role in coordinating large-scale efforts to respond to the city’s needs and was recognized as an indispensable partner.
One of The Jerusalem Foundation’s greatest strengths is our ability to respond immediately to changing realities and at the same time to continue to advance our long-term vision. I am proud that this year we responded quickly to immediate and urgent needs in the face of the pandemic. Thanks to support from longtime friends and new donors all over the world, we allocated more than 9 million NIS for emergency relief. Our response to the pandemic helped us to better understand the needs in the city, and new initiatives were born of the crisis.
The Jerusalem Foundation provided a safety net for the most vulnerable people in Jerusalem and preserved the arts and culture eco-system during the lock down. At the same time, we continued to advance the long term projects securing the future of the city through the 2030 Master Plan in the areas of Communal Strength, Creative Culture and Future Leadership.
In the midst of all the challenges of 2020, the Foundation also celebrated a long list of accomplishments with both capital projects and programming. Several highlights included: purchasing the Shanti House for youth at risk; breaking ground on a day center for the elderly of the ultra-Orthodox community; nearing completion of construction on the Davidson Theater, home to the Train Theater in Liberty Bell Park, and a new High School building for the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education; creating several libraries in east Jerusalem schools; and renovating the community center on Palmach Street and the auditorium at the Paley Center for the Arts in east Jerusalem.
We launched two of our own future leadership programs with the George Pinto Jerusalem Leadership Fellows and the initiative for youth leaders from disadvantaged neighborhoods. We expanded the cutting-edge Al Mada science and math program and the Learning Together Shared Living program for principals, teachers and students from all the city’s sectors.
The Jerusalem Foundation in the USA was inspired to create the Community and Culture Innovation Fund for relief and recovery to support innovative and collaborative culture and community projects during COVID and beyond. We launched the $1.25 million fund at the end of 2020, over 180 cultural and community organizations submitted applications and grants were awarded to 45 organizations that have already begun to realize their diverse groundbreaking projects.
We also used the year to plan, promote and raise resources for significant projects that will be implemented in the coming years, including the Gazelle Valley Education Center, the new Marcus Margulies Pavilion at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, the Hassadna Music Conservatory and dozens of other projects for the benefit of all the city’s residents.
Our cooperation, coordination and close collaboration with Mayor Moshe Lion and the Municipal departments was strengthened even further in 2020 and continues to be a strategic asset in the work of the Jerusalem Foundation. In many cases this has led to leveraging additional public funding to match support raised by the Jerusalem Foundation from around the world and greatly benefited the programs and projects we initiate and advance.
2020 ended with a significant increase in funds raised by the Jerusalem Foundation – $29,941,154 from our supporters around the world – an impressive increase of over 30% compared to 2019. We all hope to sustain the momentum in 2021, and we continue to work in partnership with the boards and professionals of The Jerusalem Foundation around the world to reach our goals.
I want to thank all of our friends and supporters around the globe who kept Jerusalem in their hearts despite local responsibilities and personal challenges.
It has been much too long since we could welcome you to Jerusalem in person, and I am counting the days until we see you here in 2021, “this year in Jerusalem”.