Federation allocates $1.1 million to innovative ideas

Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax will use a grant to expand its bus service.
File photo

Twenty-four local Jewish organizations with ideas about how to bring the community closer together have been awarded $1.1 million by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

The grants were approved by the Federation on May 14, said Shari Merrill, the agency’s chief impact officer. “The goal [of the grants] is really about creating a space for creative thinking,” she said.

A total of 68 organizations pitched ideas to the Federation. Many of the 28 projects chosen focus on one of three areas the Federation is targeting: encouraging young Jews to become involved in the community, strengthening Jewish life in northern Virginia, and adult learning.

And so GatherDC, which serves Jews in their 20s and 30s, will receive several grants for staff training to improve how they reach out to young adults, and hire staff to focus on Northern Virginia.


Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax will receive a grant to expand bus service from four routes to five to cut ride time.

And Temple Micah in Washington will receive funds for its Storefront Project, which will bring Jewish learning to coffee shops and rooftops.

Other recipients include the Anti-Defamation League, the three area Jewish community centers and several local synagogues.

The Federation raised the money in its 2018 Annual Campaign as part of a new strategy to target specific areas for support.

Additional target areas the Federation is considering are vulnerable people and Israel, said CEO Gil Preuss.

The funding comes a year after the release of a demographic study of the Jewish community. It found that there are 300,000 Jews in the area and that the largest concentration of area Jews (41 percent) is in Northern Virginia.

“Ultimately our goal is to engage the entire community, in a vibrant Jewish life and that can’t be achieved by any single Jewish organization,” Merrill said. “It’s just inspiring to see the diversity of ideas. We are really finding these new and distinct ways to connect people across our community.”

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