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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

July 15, 2016 | 9 Tammuz 5776 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 8:54 p.m.

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This week’s 2020 Strategic Priorities focus is on closing the gap to meet ongoing community needs. There are a few factors at play here, and I want to help shed some light on what's happening – both the positive achievements we can be proud of, and where we need to ramp up our work.

First, the exciting news. Our allocations committee has now completed the challenging task of reviewing over 50 different applications and determining the 2016 – 2017 priorities. Guided by our 2020 Strategic Priorities, as well as reported outcomes for existing programs, the committee submitted their recommendations as to how the additional funds generated by our record 2015 campaign result should be distributed. This allocations cycle is the first in several years when the committee was able to support several new initiatives. We are particularly excited by two new initiatives:

  1. Funding for childcare subsidies to enable more families in financial need to enroll in JCC programs; and
  2. Funding for a new after school program in Richmond offered through the partnership between Beth Tikvah and Richmond Jewish Day School.

The number of young families in our community is growing, and we know they feel crunched when it comes to childcare. We hope these two initiatives are just the beginning of our ability to make a tangible and wonderful difference in the lives of parents and children. These two new programs are perfect examples of the kinds of impactful new programs that need funding.

Our 25 local partner agencies are our eyes and ears on the ground, and we’ve learned from them that there is so much more they need to be doing, but can’t because they don’t have the financial resources. They are doing an incredible job with what is available, but every single one of them is stretched. What non-profit isn’t stretched, right? Sure, but what you might not realize is that ongoing community needs are not being met to the degree that we as a community want.

Through our allocations process, partner agencies come to us to request funding for programs and services. In an average year, we receive $1.44 million more in requests than we have funding available for, which leads to two things:

  1. Current programs and services are funded at a level far lower than what they need to effectively address current needs – let alone future needs.
  2. Some very worthy programs and services receive no funding at all through the allocations process.

This is what we’re talking about when we say that we need to close the funding gap – the difference between what is currently being funded and what is really needed. It is an incredibly important component of our 2020 strategic priorities, and we are committed to generating the increased funding need to close the gap.

Part of our role as a Federation is to help provide adequate funding so our partners can engage in the front line work of serving community members today and in the future. They are all eager to reach more people, provide deeper support, and innovate to a greater degree. Moreover, community members are counting on them to do so - and on our Federation to provide that funding. After all, the Annual Campaign is often the single largest and most reliable source of funding for our partners - and not just the small ones, the big ones, too. In many instances we provide more than half of the funding our partners receive. While the campaign has been growing, we need to press fast forward on the rate at which it is growing.

We, as a community, have the capacity to do this. Those of you who’ve been to our office have probably noticed the piece of paper I tacked up on my office door last year. In addition to our 2020 campaign goal, it includes this quote from Albert Einstein: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It’s been up there for more than a year, and it will stay until we’ve closed this gap.

Before I end my week, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my wonderful visit to Camp Hatikvah on Monday.  Thank you to the administration and campers who the made the visit so special.

Shabbat shalom,

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver