By Stuart Wachs
The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix exists to strengthen and sustain a vibrant, inclusive community that enriches lives. We foster Jewish education, inspire young Jewish adults, care for Jewish seniors and forge ties with Israel. With the generosity of our community, federation allocates millions of dollars for critical services and also provides leadership, guidance and the impact of the collective. I am proud to share a few of the things made possible through our supporters this year.
Seniors: We successfully implemented the first initiative identified with the completion of our senior needs study. As recommended by our task force, a senior services concierge began connecting seniors with available community services in July. The position was made possible through federation funding and is administered through our partner, Jewish Family and Children’s Services. Continuing our momentum, we will gather experts from aging-in-place fields to access our next initiative based on the study.
Israel Advocacy: The goal of federation’s Israel advocacy grants is to develop educated and passionate Israel advocates in our community. We are doing this in three ways:
• Through Hillel and JAC on the Arizona State University campus, we funded the creation of an Israel engagement coordinator to develop advocacy education and training for college students, campus-based advocacy initiatives and to encourage students to visit Israel through approved trips.
• We are also reaching out to high school students. This year, more than 360 9th- to 12th-graders in BBYO will be trained to “Speak Up for Israel” through a series of workshops.
• This fall we are taking 15 community leaders to Israel to meet with business and political leaders and to return as strong advocates for Israel.
NOWGen: To further impact Millennials, the federation is hiring a NOWGen senior director. Our expanded NOWGen staff will develop new programs and increase engagement among Jewish young adults through philanthropy, social action, leadership development and the NOWGen Giving Circle.
Building Community in the East Valley: In 2013 federation initiated a meeting of community leaders in the East Valley to increase engagement and connectivity. In April, the group submitted eight recommendations, including opening a federation office in the East Valley, encouraging partner agencies to offer more services in the East Valley and reviving the East Valley Community Council. Our East Valley office opens this fall and we will work with the East Valley organizations to implement the remaining initiatives.
Campaign: We are only halfway through the campaign year and are significantly ahead of this time last year, but it will take everyone in the community coming together to meet and exceed our goal of half-a-million-dollar growth over last year. Through the community’s generosity, we are able increase our impact in the community and funding for our community partners and schools.
In addition, in the coming year, we will further enhance our major donor benefits and programs through recognition, events and opportunities to engage in our work both here and abroad.
Women’s Philanthropy: The federation has made a renewed commitment to strengthen Women’s Philanthropy and to help engage more women. This year, we launched a major revitalization initiative and expanded leadership. For three years, we have been rebuilding the signature campaign luncheon and this year’s Ignition! was exceptional. We continue to create approachable ways for women to gather and make a difference, such as TOV (Tikkun Olam Volunteers). This fall, we bring back the speakers series and reinstate our local mini-missions. We are grateful to the small but very committed group of women who kept Women’s Philanthropy alive and to the women who recently joined the effort to expand its impact.
Business & Professionals Groups: The federation is proud to expand the programs of its business & professional groups, bringing the Jewish community together through business connections. In addition to our Cardozo Society for those in the legal field and our Real Estate & Finance division, we launched Chai Tech in April 2015 to bring together those in the information, technology and engineering fields. Our 2015 spring events offered exclusive meetings with top industry speakers from American Express, DMB, Universal Technical Institute and more. Our members learn about the federation and network in a casual setting. We look forward to our exciting offerings starting in the fall.
Our work in the community and around the world is made possible through the generosity and leadership of the community. To learn more about federation’s impact, please visit www.jewishphoenix.org.
Stuart Wachs is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.