The Jerusalem Foundation’s 2023 Innovation Fund Raises over $2.5 Million and Awards Grants to 65 Cultural and Community-Based Initiatives across Jerusalem
Annual Grantmaking Program Recognizes Innovative Models
to Advance the City’s Social and Cultural Vitality
The Jerusalem Foundation, Inc. (JFI) announced that it has raised over $2.5 million for its 2023 Innovation Fund and awarded grants to 65 recipients across Jerusalem’s social and cultural landscape.
Established in 2020 in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Innovation Fund seeks to ensure Jerusalem’s present and future vitality by supporting initiatives by cultural and community-based organizations across the city with an emphasis on promoting multilateral collaboration and enhancing the rich tapestry of communities that defines Jerusalem’s unique signature. Now in its third grantmaking year, the Innovation Fund has raised a combined total of more than $6 million and invested in more than 160 projects to date.
For 2023, the Innovation Fund’s call-for-proposals drew 212 submissions, including proposals from prioryear grantees both to expand on the success of earlier initiatives and to support new undertakings, enabling the Fund to promote continuity in its mission and to build on the success of previous grantmaking cycles. Grantees were selected through a competitive review process, including peer jury scoring and JFI
Committee and Board approval and received awards of $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 toward cultural initiatives across the full spectrum of visual and performing arts and toward community-based initiatives in support of education, economic opportunity and growth, healthcare and technological advancement, and urban sustainability from public spaces to rooftops.
Each of this year’s grants is reflective of the Innovation Fund’s central goals: to support partnerships and initiatives that offer creative new models for navigating challenge with strength; to nurture a rising generation of non-profit leaders committed to Jerusalem’s future; and to help advance the city’s economic resilience, environmental sustainability, and future growth. Among this year’s grantees are:
• Downtown Art Takeover: A collaborative undertaking among five art schools—Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, School of Visual Theatre, and Center for Middle Eastern Classical Music—whose
campuses have all moved to the center of the city, empowering education in creative making as a driver for urban growth.
• Embroidery among Cultures: An Ethiopian, Palestinian, and Moroccan Collaboration: A cross-cultural embroidery bank created by three organizations—Studio of Her Own, Maroc Impact, and Studio Roots—together with the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem to archive the legacy of Middle Eastern and African embroidery and to build a model for economic empowerment and international engagement for women.
• Day of Choice: A collaboration between Out for Change, Judah’s Yard, and the Jerusalem Theatre, creating a multidisciplinary performing arts series by and for young LGBTQ+ adults reflecting on their departure from their ultra-Orthodox communities.
• Steps+: A gap-year preparatory program created jointly by Bakchila, Jerusalem Venture Partners, and ELEVATE for young Arab adults focusing on technology and entrepreneurship between high school and higher education.
• Citywide Food Rescue System: Expanding a successful neighborhood project by the Jerusalem Food Rescuers to deploy a network of food rescuers, discount markets, and food pantries across the city, converting hunger and waste into nutrition and sustainability.
• Integrative Community Orchestra: A collaboration between SHEKEL and the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance to bring together professional musicians and Palestinians and Israelis with and without disabilities to deliver community-based culture and economic opportunity to otherwise marginalized aspiring musicians.
The full list of 2023 grantees follows and can also be found here.
JFI Chairman of the Board Alan Hassenfeld states, “We are thrilled by the response to our third annual Innovation Fund grantmaking cycle and notably by the generous outpouring of philanthropic support and the impressive diversity and strength of applicants and grantees. As we look beyond the challenges of these last few years, we are heartened to see our stakeholders’ continuing commitment to and investment in Jerusalem’s vitality today and going forward. We also owe a lot of appreciation to our teams in New York and Jerusalem for shepherding this grantmaking process and to Allen Model, Chairman of our Board’s Committee for the Innovation Fund, and to his Committee members for their admirable oversight.”
“Through the Innovation Fund, the Jerusalem Foundation is proud to support initiatives that can serve the present and also become models for future development and success, not only in Jerusalem, but also across Israel and elsewhere in the world,” says James Snyder, JFI Executive Chairman. “This year’s grantees demonstrate both the growing success of the Innovation Fund and the impact of partnership and
collaboration in encouraging grantees to work together to embrace a shared vision for a vibrant future for Jerusalem.”
“Together with the great momentum of the Jerusalem Foundation on many fronts across the city, the Innovation Fund extends the Foundation’s reach even more broadly as it enters its third year. We are happy both to support new initiatives like these and to encourage sustainability and growth for earlier pilot programs,” says Shai Doron, President of the Jerusalem Foundation. “We are deeply grateful for
the generosity of the donors who have made the continuing success of this enterprise possible.”
“This year’s applicants displayed an unprecedented level of creativity and vision, tackling wide-ranging challenges that include broadening cultural access, fostering education, and promoting leadership,” says Ruth Diskin, Director of Programming for the Jerusalem Foundation.
Through its first two years, the Innovation Fund has also been able to catalyze matching support from individuals, foundations, and municipal and corporate sources, deepening its impact and providing a successful model for the power of public-private partnerships in fostering cultural and civic growth. The Foundation is deeply grateful to the donors and partners listed here, whose essential and ongoing support makes possible the Innovation Fund’s success.
Photo by: Dor Pazoalo