The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF) has been the philanthropic cornerstone of Jewish communities across the greater Chicago metropolitan region, and its funding efforts support a wide variety of programs and charitable organizations. In seeking ways to support Jewish communities both at home and abroad, JUF established the Breakthrough Fund in 2013 to provide grants to promising new and existing Jewish nonprofit initiatives. Since its inception, the Breakthrough Fund has been the source of $2.3 million in grants offered to some 40 philanthropic programs in Chicago, including $1.27 million in fiscal year 2016.
About $588,000 of that total has been reserved for multi-year grants, all of which began in 2014. Many of the recipients seek to address the philanthropic needs of the Chicago Jewish community through educational efforts aimed at fostering the next generation of philanthropists. Two of these organizations include UpStart: Chicago, an entrepreneurial incubator; and GIFTS (Gratitude, Inspiration, Family, Tzedakah, and Service), a JUF initiative that helps grandparents pass down the Jewish tradition of charity to their grandchildren. Other renewed grants fund programs that are providing aid to community members in need, including an effort to develop a medication abuse assessment tool for seniors, as well as the Jewish Child and Family Services’ Jewish Center for Addiction.
The remainder of the FY2016 Breakthrough Fund grants will be disbursed to first-time recipients who are working to sustain programs that address every aspect of Jewish life in Chicago. Educational organizations such as the Israel Children’s Zone and Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago have earned grants to help train educators, while another Breakthrough Fund grant will support JVS Chicago’s Ready4Work program, in order to help adults living with disabilities find gainful employment. By improving education, increasing access to social services, and promoting Jewish values, the Breakthrough Fund promises to create real change in Chicago’s Jewish community.