The What, Why and How of the Russian-Speaking Jews’ Impact Grants Initiative

Like any Jewish organization, our Federation is grappling with the question of how to best engage people in Jewish life and communicate the role that the Federation and other Jewish organizations play in the community. One of the most innovative and successful tools that we have discovered in this regard is our Impact Grants Initiative (IGI).

So what the heck is an “IGI”? It is an effective and hands-on approach to grantmaking, and a unique way of teaching people about philanthropy. We convene a group of passionate community members into a targeted committee, explore community needs and strategies for impact, and learn about the role of philanthropy and addressing such issues. Once everyone is up to speed, we walk the group through the process from publishing requests for proposals, to meeting grant candidates, to selecting and awarding funds to grantee organizations.

Most Russian-speaking Jews are unaffiliated and distant from the larger Jewish community. IGIs give the people on the committee an opportunity to learn about the organizations that provide services to the community. In addition to providing real dollars to organizations, the experience creates connections among participants, service providers, educators, and the people who use the services. In many ways, IGIs have proven to be catalysts for creating community as well as impact.

So what’s unique about the Russian-Speaking Jews’ IGI? It empowers! It gives immigrants an opportunity to have a voice and a chance to create change. The Russian-Speaking Jews’ IGI has provided seed-funding to small projects that have since grown and are gaining momentum. Among them are Club Z, Speak Memory Project, and the Russian-speaking Moishe House.

The Russian-Speaking Jews’ IGI also helps create unique connection between American Jewry and European and Israeli Jewry by using a common language – Russian.

IGI participants attending a presentation by a grant candidate

Learn more about the Federation’s Impact Grants Initiatives, or contact Irina Klay for information on the Russian-Speaking Jews’ IGI.


February 05, 2016