Women Empowering Women

It was a big month for the Federation’s San Francisco Jewish Women’s Fund (SFJWF) – a really BIG month.

The Women’s Fund was founded four years ago, the brainchild of renowned philanthropist and devoted Federation supporter, Lisa Goldman. “Lisa had this vision,” said current chair Amy Berler, “about coming together to help women and girls in the Jewish community and calls me and says ‘I am not sure how we are going to do it, but come join us.’ And doing so has given me an opportunity to meet wonderful, passionate, committed, and caring women who also wanted to make an impact and learn from each other.”

The work of the Fund has grown, evolved, and continually advanced over the last four years through the leadership of committed members, particularly the dedicated Executive Committee and Federation professionals working together in partnership. The Fund’s previous chair, Julie Levine, added that the impact of the SFJWF has not only been experienced by the grantees: “A huge benefit of our work together has been that in trying to empower other women, I feel like we have all been empowered.”

The collaborative, hands-on grantmaking approach that every member of the SFJWF employed in choosing grantees will make a lasting difference in the lives of women and children in Israel and throughout the entire Bay Area.

Anne Moses, President and Founder of the grant recipient IGNITE, was equally enthusiastic about the Fund’s potential influence, especially on young women: “This will allow IGNITE to specifically train Jewish young women, a group we have not yet focused on and who need to enter political leadership across the country in order to ensure that their perspectives are represented in policy. We're thankful to the Fund for allowing us to embark on this work.”

Cindy Rogoway, Executive Director of Hebrew Free Loan Association, shared that gratitude and excitement: “This grant will create a permanent loan fund that exists in perpetuity to help women throughout our community overcome challenges and realize their dreams. We couldn't be more proud of our shared commitment to supporting women as they work to achieve financial self-sufficiency and equality.”

“The entire process of working with these women and these organizations – from both sides of the equation – has been incredibly rewarding,” said Danielle Meshorer, the Federation’s Manager of Venture Philanthropy and Giving Circles. “Designing a process with the opportunity to engage in deep conversations with these dynamic women, while expanding our grant focus, has put us in a wonderful position to build organizational capacity and create impact in the community.”

After holding their final meetings of the 2017-2018 grant cycle, their 22-member board, chaired by Amy Berler, selected five organizations from a record-sized applicant pool to receive this year’s grants, totaling nearly $200,000.

The funders centered their attention on organizations that focused on health and well-being, leadership development, and economic security. And we’re proud to announce the 2018 grantees:

At the Well ($45,000), founded by Sarah Waxman, is a pluralistic and inclusive “wellness organization” incorporating Jewish spirituality and values in its mission to foster community and tend to the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of women around the country. The grant will support their Bay Area hub’s efforts to scale, partner locally, and empower women throughout Northern California.

The Center for Women’s Justice ($40,000) will employ the grant to support their work in Israel by providing legal advocacy and Knesset activism to ensure women’s rights in the face of growing religious control over marriage, divorce, and personal status.

Hebrew Free Loan Association ($75,000) has been providing interest free loans for more than 120 years throughout Northern California to Jewish people in need. The grant will establish the San Francisco Jewish Women’s Loan Fund which will provide interest-free loans for a variety of needs with the intention to give Jewish women access to capital who otherwise might struggle in the Bay Area.

IGNITE ($13,000) is a nationwide charity based in Oakland dedicated to “building a movement of young women to become the next generation of political leaders.” The grant will fund their pilot leadership program with San Francisco State’s Hillel chapter.

Shalom Bayit ($25,000) fights to eradicate domestic violence in the Jewish community, supporting and advocating for the rights of abused Jewish women and children. The grant will update and implement their “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” curriculum which has been implemented in dozens of Bay Area and national schools, through youth-led education programs designed to stop dating violence and abusive behavior in teen relationships.

As diverse as the missions of these organizations are, they all captured the core values of this increasingly influential giving circle, now in its fourth year. And Joy Sisisky, the Federation’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, is thrilled by the impact their efforts are making on Jewish women and girls throughout Northern California. “This extraordinary collaborative giving process leverages philanthropic resources to shine a light on inequalities and unmet needs,” said Sisisky. “It is a powerful statement of what we can accomplish together as women leaders in our community.”


June 13, 2018


Jon Moskin