Photo credit Maria Baranova, courtesy The In[HEIR]itance Project

Incubating, and then Financing, a Growing Nonprofit Theater

This summer, FJC closed a $50,000 loan to the nonprofit The In[Heir]itance Project, to assist the theater organization’s growth while it waited for committed foundation grants to be paid. The loan represented a satisfying “second act” in the relationship between FJC and the nonprofit, which had previously been incubated at FJC as a fiscally sponsored project.

“It’s always great when one of the programs that ‘graduates’ from FJC’s fiscal sponsorship can become one of our borrowers,” says Laura Hoffman, Program Manager of FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. 

“Our organization wouldn’t exist today without the mentorship, guidance, and incubation time we received from FJC when it served as our fiscal sponsor. Having [the lending] relationship endure after we left the nest is not only reassuring, it’s an exciting next step in our maturation as an organization.”

Jon Adam Ross, Co-Founding Artist & Executive Director

The In[HEIR]itance Project works with intergenerational, intersectional, and interfaith communities to build relationships across divides through collaborative theater projects inspired by shared cultural touchstones. They are currently beginning work in Memphis on the fifth play in a series exploring Exodus narratives across the United States. Previous stops in the playmaking series included projects in Harlem, NYC working with formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, Omaha working with recently resettled refugees, Cincinnati working with the Black and Jewish communities to explore the rituals of Exodus (resulting in a Juneteenth Seder ritual performance), and in Coastal Virginia exploring displacement and white flight.

Hoffman recalls that Co-Founding Artist and Executive Director Jon Adam Ross joined FJC’s fiscal sponsorship program in 2015.  The initial proposal projected a three-year initial project of modest ambition. (The original budget was $50,000 per year).  During its period as a fiscally sponsored project, FJC acted as the 501(c)(3), receiving charitable contributions on the organization’s behalf and acting as a fiscal back office. 

Over time the organization grew into a national arts organization of artists, scholars and activists that could bring people together to listen, learn and collaborate to create theater. Since beginning operation in January of 2015, In[HEIR]itance Project artists have led projects in over a dozen cities around the country, engaging over 10,000 community participants, paying over 170 local artists, and partnering with more than 400 partnering organizations, institutions, and schools. The In[HEIR]itance Project received its 501(c)(3) status in 2020, and it has been operating independently since.

“It’s always great when one of the programs that ‘graduates’ from FJC’s fiscal sponsorship can become one of our borrowers.”

Laura Hoffman, Program Director, Fiscal Sponsorship Program, FJC

The loan came at a critical time for the organization. In the summer of 2020, the pandemic, along with the national awakening that occurred in response to the murder of George Floyd, created a surge in demand from community partners for collaborations with the In[Heir]itance Project.  The organization has a 27-city waiting list of project inquiries, and they have had to scale up quickly while maintaining the high quality of their collaborations and productions.  With philanthropic commitments in hand but payments expected later in the year, the organization was in need of some working capital to bridge the timing gap. FJC made the bridge loan from its Agency Loan Fund, an impact investment vehicle that pools together funds from donor accounts and makes loans to nonprofits.

“Our organization wouldn’t exist today without the mentorship, guidance, and incubation time we received from FJC when it served as our fiscal sponsor,” says Ross. “Having that relationship endure after we left the nest is not only reassuring, it’s an exciting next step in our maturation as an organization. And we are so grateful.”

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Donors Respond to the Ukraine Crisis

A 32-year-old organization fiscally sponsored by FJC has found a new calling in responding to the urgent humanitarian crisis caused by the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine. 

The Jewish Community of Poland Fund was founded by Rabbi Michael Schudrich in 2000 to help families in Poland reconnect with their Jewish culture and roots, after decades of Communist rule, through lectures, retreats, and educational programs. 

In responding to the Ukraine crisis in recent weeks, the Jewish Community of Poland Fund’s scope has dramatically and tragically shifted.  The organization has mobilized volunteers at the Polish border, connecting Ukrainian refugees of all backgrounds and cultures to transportation and services like housing, food, medical care, legal advice, and psychological counseling.

Rabbi Schudrich, who acts as the Chief Rabbi of Poland, notes the universal nature of this work, which is rooted in his organization’s long history of human services.   “When refugees finally get across the Polish border, they’re confronted by questions of: What do I do now? Where am I? Who am I? What am I supposed to do?’” the Rabbi explains.  “Our mission has not changed; it has been enhanced and taken to another level.”

In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, the Jewish Community of Poland Fund has seen a dramatic increase in donations, receiving over $534,000 in donations, a figure that exceeds its fundraising over the entire prior year. “People have been incredibly generous,” Rabbi Schudrich remarks. “We can’t help everyone. So, the goal is always to help one more person.”

Over the last several weeks FJC donors have also responded rapidly, recommending over $1.5 million in grants to organizations providing emergency support.  Organizations receiving significant grant funding (over $100,000 in aggregate from multiple donors) include Razom, United Help Ukraine, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, International Rescue Committee, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World Central Kitchen.

Special thanks to Rachel Goldman, Program Assistant, for additional reporting for this story.

A Wheel It Forward volunteer helps manage inventory. Wheel It Forward provides mentoring, job training, and internship opportunities to volunteers from Abilis, an organization that helps people with disabilities from birth through adulthood.

Launching a New Kind of Library for Medical Equipment

On a November day in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, a new mom in Fairfield County, Connecticut was stuck in the hospital.  She had recently given birth and suffered from temporary paralysis on one side of her body. She and her newborn baby could not be discharged without a power wheelchair, which was unavailable at the hospital due to supply chain issues.  She faced the choice: stay at the hospital until a wheelchair could be found, or purchase a brand-new wheelchair out of pocket for thousands of dollars.  Luckily, a savvy hospital discharge planner contacted Wheel It Forward, one of FJC’s fiscally sponsored projects.  That afternoon, a Wheel It Forward volunteer delivered a power wheelchair, a ramp, and a hemi-walker to the new mother’s home at no cost.

Wheel It Forward is a volunteer-run nonprofit that operates a lending “library” that coordinates the lending and borrowing of donated durable medical equipment (DME) in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Donated equipment includes wheelchairs and ramps, hospital beds, crutches, walkers, and many others. The organization closes the gap between the cost and durability of DME relative to the often brief, urgent needs for them.  The average piece of DME has a usable life span of over five years but is typically used for only four months, a hugely inefficient dynamic that results in unmet need and significant waste. In their first year, Wheel It Forward has worked with a team of almost 100 volunteers to save library members tens of thousands of dollars and to prevent over 34,000 pounds of equipment from ending up in landfills.

“We’re lending out $2,000 worth of equipment every day, including weekends. Once we are past this start-up stage we look forward to spreading this new kind of library to other communities across America.”

The organization was inspired by an eighth-grade trip to Israel that founder Elliot Sloyer took as a chaperone.  There Sloyer encountered Yad Sarah, an Israeli nonprofit founded on a similar model in 1976 that now has 120 branches in Israeli cities, development towns, and Arab villages across the country.  Yad Sarah’s services and activities save the Israeli economy some $320 million each year in healthcare costs and hospital fees. Impressed and inspired by Yad Sarah’s impact, Elliot researched similar resources in the US. Though they exist, there are not enough to meaningfully recirculate lightly used DME or to reduce the financial burden DME can create for families.

Wheel It Forward’s long-term plan is to replicate across other communities in the United States. By teaching inventory management and best practices for operating a library, Wheel It Forward plans to amplify their already significant impact. They are also developing a national database of DME lending libraries in the United States to highlight where opportunities exist to donate and borrow DME locally. Sloyer notes that the organization has made significant strides in its first year, despite launching operations during the pandemic.  “We’re lending out $2,000 worth of equipment every day, including weekends,” he says. “Once we are past this start-up stage we look forward to spreading this new kind of library to other communities across America.”

Coming from the hedge fund industry, Sloyer is mindful of keeping his organization lean and efficient as it scales.  “From an economics perspective, fiscal sponsorship at FJC is a no brainer,” he says, comparing FJC’s scaled operational platform to prime brokerage services in the financial industry. As part of FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, Wheel It Forward can focus on expanding their operations while FJC handles the administrative operations of processing tax-deductible contributions and paying vendors.  In addition to DME donations, the organization’s business model relies on suggested donations from participants and other forms of fundraising. 

If you live in Fairfield County and would like to donate or borrow durable medical equipment, click here. To make a monetary donation to support the mission and growth of Wheel It Forward, click here

FJC Welcomes 15 New Organizations to Our Fiscal Sponsorship Program

FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program incubates nonprofit organizations or projects that do not have their own 501(c)(3) status. In 2021, 15 new partners joined our program to tap our financial and operational expertise. Please join us in celebrating them and amplifying their charitable endeavors.

(FJC account holders take note: if you have a DAF account at FJC and wish to make a contribution to an organization currently participating in our Fiscal Sponsorship Program, simply email us to initiate the gift.)

Friends of Crocheron & John Golden Park is stewarding the 12th largest park in Queens, NYC. Monthly volunteer events focus on litter removal, planting, and trail maintenance and help to bring local park goers together. Follow Friends of Crocheron & John Golden Park on Twitter and Instagram.
DONATE HERE 

TechPACT was founded by a group of impassioned technology leaders who joined together to create a direct and effective approach to address underrepresentation in the technology community, which lags behind other professional sectors for proportionate representation among Blacks, African Americans, LatinX, and women. Follow TechPACT on LinkedIn.
DONATE HERE

The Creator’s Well is designed to provide professional and personal wellness resources to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) creative professionals.
DONATE HERE (Please include “The Creator’s Well” in the order note)

Learning Our Way Out (LOWO) promotes a grassroots community conversation methodology to help people in developing countries mobilize to reduce poverty and improve health and environmental sustainability. By training local people in facilitated dialogue techniques, LOWO encourages local participation to find innovative and lasting solutions to complex problems with genuine community ownership.
DONATE HERE

Asociacion de Asistencia Privada OSE was founded 82 years ago when a group of Jewish descendant physicians founded OSE to give medical services at no-cost to low-income individuals in Mexico City. By participating in FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, OSE can expand their funders to include US donors and foundations, greatly increasing the resources available to support its mission.
DONATE HERE (Please include “Asociacion de Asistencia Privada OSE” in the order note)

Einayich Yonim Fellowship  provides Jewish high school students with the opportunity to delve into Jewish ethical ecology, to build a safe and supportive community of spiritually connected young people, to nurture self-reflection and personal growth, to foster intergenerational mentor relationships, and to help them see the profound connection between their Jewish heritage and their responsibility for the well-being of all life on earth. Follow Einayich Yonim Fellowship on Facebook.
DONATE HERE

Puszke Foundation is a Polish foundation that is utilizing FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program to expand their funding opportunities in the United States. They provide financial assistance and customized aid to families in need in the Polish Jewish community.
DONATE HERE (Please include “Puszke Foundation” in the order note)

Project Canopy advances evidence-based policy making for the Congo Basin rainforest by providing environmental actors with the data, analytics and tools they need to end defaunation, deforestation, and associated carbons. Follow Project Canopy’s programming on Twitter and Facebook.
DONATE HERE (Please include “Project Canopy” in the order note)

The Park/Lex East 80th Group protects and manages New York City’s green spaces and natural areas to maximize the benefits for environmental and community health and resilience.
DONATE HERE (Please include “The Park/Lex East 80th Group” in the order note)

Press Pass NYC Press Pass NYC’s programs are all in service of helping New York City public schools start and sustain a successful school newspaper program in a comprehensive way. Unlike outside-school opportunities for individual students, Press Pass NYC’s focus is on creating journalistic value and opportunities for the entire school community and engaging students in authentic, project-based, community-centered learning that they would otherwise never experience.
DONATE HERE

NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness uses its resources and influence to transform New York City’s homelessness systems.  Currently, those systems function primarily to manage the crisis of homelessness.  They seek instead to prevent and end that crisis.
DONATE HERE (Please include “NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness” in the order note)

PATH Survivor Support Fund is focused on financial support for costs of care for individual survivors of sexual abuse at Phillips Exeter Academy who are in need. The expenses covered may include therapy, housing, groceries, transportation, childcare, and expenses incurred when mediating legal claims with Exeter. The intent of PSSF is to enable survivors to access funds with as few emotional impediments as possible.
DONATE HERE (Please include “PATH Survivor Support Fund” in the order note)

Journalist Trauma Support Network addresses an urgent need for mental health care for journalists impacted by occupational stress and trauma. The mission is to establish an international community of qualified therapists who are trained to provide culturally competent treatment for media professionals.
DONATE HERE

Project Shema endeavors to help the Jewish community build and scale the competence and capacity necessary to disrupt the spread of anti-Zionism and antisemitic ideas in social justice spaces. Named after the Hebrew word which means “to hear” or “listen”, Project Shema seeks to help Jewish organizations and advocates build stronger bonds of trust between the Jewish community and members of the progressive movement.
DONATE HERE (Please include “Project Shema” in the order note)

Viz for Social Good brings together passionate data professionals with mission-driven organizations to collaborate on data visualization projects to tackle critical social issues. Their volunteers create insightful dashboards and help charities to understand how data can be used to advance their missions. Follow their projects on Twitter.
DONATE HERE (Please include “Viz for Social Good” in the order note)

The inaugural cohort of the Witness Fellowship: Amisha Harding, Rabbi Dr Ariel Burger, Cheyenne Paris, Hope England, Joe Haley, Juliana Taimoorazy , Nicole Starr, Ross Cohen, and Shaaroni Wong.

An Institute Grows to Advance Elie Wiesel’s Teaching Legacy

It took a leap of faith for Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger to found his own nonprofit organization. With a background in Jewish Studies and Conflict Resolution, he had started his career in nonprofit management with various organizations and foundations in Boston and was also considering teaching as a career path.  But in 2016 his personal mission led him toward a road less traveled: launching a new nonprofit organization to carry on the educational legacy of his longtime mentor Elie Wiesel.  

“How could I capture and share a great moral educator’s wisdom, not only the content of what he taught but his methods for clarifying messy political situations, fighting hatred aggressively, and inspiring people to move from being spectators to history to becoming actively involved witnesses – moral change agents who can influence their communities?”

Ariel’s motivation stemmed from a confluence of factors: the divisive 2016 election; the increase in shocking hate crimes, including the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting; a deeply polarized nation; and the rise of populist regimes across the globe.  That year, Elie Wiesel passed away.  “How could I capture and share a great moral educator’s wisdom,” Ariel reflected, “not only the content of what he taught but his methods for clarifying messy political situations, fighting hatred aggressively, and inspiring people to move from being spectators to history to becoming actively involved witnesses – moral change agents who can influence their communities?”

Ariel’s organization began as a fiscally sponsored program of FJC in 2017, and it is now poised to spin off into a new, more ambitious phase as the Witness Institute. The Institute’s flagship program, the Witness Fellowship, will convene and support leaders with high potential to influence society. In addition to training emerging leaders in moral education and activism, the Witness Institute is providing educational tools, podcasts, and more to thousands of people, with Ariel as scholar in residence, engaging Institute Fellows and faculty.

The Witness Fellowship inaugural cohort features a diverse group of inspiring leaders reflecting a variety of fields and passions: public education, comedy and therapeutic practice, advocacy for the rule of law, racial justice activism, and Holocaust education. Consisting of semi-annual retreats, ongoing online learning, weekly 1-1 study, and summative projects, the Witness Fellowship will nurture a new generation of activists, working to change the world on a variety of scales from the international to the hyper-local. 

Ariel began his journey as a student of Elie Wiesel, serving alongside him for five years at Boston University as a doctoral student and teaching assistant.  But his relationship with Wiesel went back even further to the age of fifteen, when Ariel was introduced to Mr. Wiesel following one of his public lectures. “I am tongue-tied,” Ariel writes of this first meeting. “This is the man who survived horror to become a confidant of kings and prime ministers. This is the man who traveled to conflict zones so he could bear witness to suffering and who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for doing so.”

Ariel’s initial meeting with Elie Wiesel, and their subsequent 25-year relationship, is chronicled in Ariel’s book Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom.  In the book, Ariel grapples with what it means to be a student of Mr. Wiesel’s, posing fundamental questions of faith and identity. “Most of all, it means remembering the past and understanding the link between past and future,” he writes.  Ariel’s insightful and moving book won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award, in addition to being a December 2018 Indie Next List Pick and a Publishers Lunch Buzz Book.

When Ariel decided to found an organization, his efforts had received the blessing of Mr. Wiesel before his death in 2016, and received further validation from Elisha Wiesel, Elie’s son, who has acted as the organization’s founding board President.  “I am proud to be embarking on a new path with my friend, Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger,” says Elisha.  “We believe that all of us who live in this fractured world that my father left almost five years ago so desperately need his understanding – of ethics, activism, and how to battle hatred and indifference – in order to respond to the challenges we face.”  Under Ariel’s and Elisha’s leadership, the Institute is identifying potential start-up and ‘founders circle’ supporters. 

“Having FJC’s support behind me, taking care of the details, allowed me to be responsive to the moment, to take the risk, to take the plunge.” 

As Ariel embarks on this new phase of growth for his nonprofit efforts, he reflects on the importance of fiscal sponsorship to incubating the idea.  The project’s initial funders could only provide multi-year philanthropic support to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  As part of FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, Ariel’s nascent organization could receive tax deductible donations under FJC’s 501(c)(3), and FJC was able to handle the administrative operations of paying vendors. Says Ariel, “Having FJC’s support behind me, taking care of the details, allowed me to be responsive to the moment, to take the risk, to take the plunge.” 

The Witness Institute welcomes donations during its inaugural year at all levels to support its global changing work at https://witnessinstitute.org/donate or email ariel@witnessinstitute.org.

ABC Food Tours co-founder Matt James leading a food tour. Photo courtesy of ABC Food Tours.

FJC Welcomes 18 New Organizations to Our Fiscal Sponsorship Program

By Gabrielle Tran, Program Assistant

FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program incubates nonprofit organizations or projects that do not have their own 501(c)(3) status. In 2020, 18 new partners joined our program to tap our financial and operational expertise. Please join us in celebrating them and amplifying their charitable endeavors.

(FJC account holders take note: if you have a DAF account at FJC and wish to make a contribution to an organization currently participating in our Fiscal Sponsorship Program, simply email us to initiate the gift.)

End Book Deserts End Book Deserts advocates for children in high-poverty areas who lack basic access to age-appropriate books, high-quality reading materials, and book culture. By highlighting the work of innovative organizations and grassroots efforts, they raise awareness about the implications of limited literacy resources on children’s reading development. Through advocacy, fundraising, and author outreach, they strive to eradicate book deserts, get the right book into the hands of the right reader, and promote lifelong reading for all children. Follow End Book Deserts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and be sure to check out their podcast!
DONATE HERE (Please include “End Book Deserts” in the order note)

Junior League of the Eastern Panhandle The Junior League of the Eastern Panhandle is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Soon after joining FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, the Junior League of the Eastern Panhandle received 501(c)(3) status and became a standalone organization. Follow Junior League of the Eastern Panhandle on Facebook and Instagram!
DONATE HERE

The Service Sled The mission of The Service Sled is to assist underprivileged NYC Public School students and their families, most of whom live in shelters or other temporary housing. The Service Sled has delivered essential emergency relief to children and families suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to check out The Service Sled’s work through their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
DONATE HERE

Junior League of the Grand Strand The Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The primary focus of the Junior League of the Grand Strand is increasing children’s educational opportunities and ending childhood hunger. Their multi-faceted approach is making an impact. Follow Junior League of the Grand Strand on Facebook and Instagram!
DONATE HERE

The Appellate Project The Appellate Project aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal field of appellate practice. Federal courts of appeals hear and decide cases that affect almost every aspect of American society. The attorneys who argue these cases exert great influence: they shape, brief, and ultimately frame the issues before these courts, and the most prolific among them are often nominated to the bench. Yet there is very little diversity in this space — while 30% of students enrolling in law school are minorities, less than 1% end up in these top appellate positions. TAP aims to close this gap by providing minority law students with the resources and encouragement they need to do appellate work. After participating in FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, The Appellate Project went on to become a standalone 501(c)(3) organization. Follow The Appellate Project on LinkedIn and Twitter!
DONATE HERE

OneWonder OneWonder is a motivational career program designed to give middle schoolers the chance to explore the breadth of career opportunities available to them in a modern and fast-paced society. OneWonder believes that when a child finds purpose, they are happy, healthy and self-motivated, both in their academic and personal lives. Follow OneWonder’s charitable endeavors on Instagram!
DONATE HERE

Safer Family Fund The Safer Family Fund supports reporting that changes how we understand the world.  Claims such as “fake news” demonstrate that society is living in a time that increasingly rejects the power of evidence—a concern shared by journalists and historians alike. Celebrating and supporting the integrity, tenacity, and courage of reporters like Morley Safer has become critical to the health of journalism and history. In partnership with the Safer family, the Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin launched the Morley Safer Award for Outstanding Reporting.  The Morley Safer Award is on hiatus due to the pandemic, but more information about the award can be found here.

Orthodox Leadership Project Through advocacy and partnerships with Jewish organizations and institutions, Orthodox Leadership Project promotes the vision, opportunity, and influence of Orthodox women as communal, spiritual, professional, and lay leaders of the Jewish people. Orthodox Leadership Project aims to provide a network of professional development, continuing education, camaraderie, and resources for Orthodox professional and lay leaders. OLP seeks to effect change in two ways, simultaneously: 1. through OLP professional development sessions, leadership training program, and network of collegial support, OLP will help women to advance their careers or their activities as lay leaders and 2. by forming task forces to work directly with institutions and organizations, OLP will shape policies and influence decision-making that will help women to succeed within these spheres. Be sure to follow Orthodox Leadership Project on Facebook.
DONATE HERE

Love Your Menses Love Your Menses was founded in 2019 in response to the growing menstrual wellness needs of young people. Love Your Menses provides a platform for girls and young women of color to become more aware of their bodies and to embrace the transition period from pre-puberty into puberty. Their goal is to create a safe, uplifting, and supportive space to dispel myths surrounding menstruation while empowering young people to love their menses. Love Your Menses is committed to breaking the period taboo in Black and Brown communities through evidence-based health education, resource connection, and mentorship. Love Your Menses has graduated from FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program and is now a 501(c)(3) organization. Follow their charitable endeavors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
DONATE HERE

American College Planning Foundation The American College Planning Foundation provides educational programs and resources to college-bound students and their families in communities they serve. Their goal is to assist families in preparing for a successful college experience through a host of college planning resources that ACPF offers to the community of college-bound students and their parents. The ACPF college planning resources include educational workshops, private counseling sessions, and Internet-based tools. These resources are offered to the community free-of-charge.
DONATE HERE (Please include “American College Planning Foundation” in the order note)

Shleimut  Shleimut is a new organizational initiative that recognizes the interdependence of life on earth and invests in activists, change-makers and socially-conscious artists who are helping to bring about a more just, equitable world. Through fellowships, trainings, and retreats, Shleimut supports change-makers to evolve into wiser, more expansive, more dynamic individuals – more whole versions of themselves – so they can radiate the wholeness they’ve cultivated on the inside back to the outside world.
DONATE HERE

Wheel It Forward Wheel it Forward is a not-for-profit library for durable medical equipment (DME), assistive technology, and related products. They have established a lending library where people who need DME can borrow it, and where people who have lightly used DME can conveniently donate it to benefit others and the environment. Wheel It Forward’s vision is to change the way Americans from all socio-economic backgrounds think about the availability, use, and reuse of DME – thereby improving quality of life, saving hundreds of millions of dollars, and keeping billions of pounds of DME out of landfills. Follow Wheel It Forward on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
DONATE HERE

The NY Mentorship Collective The Collective was launched to empower and groom “natural born leaders” from underrepresented backgrounds, so that they are ready and committed to stepping up as leaders of social change, both within their communities of origin as well as the community at large. The Collective’s  Board Members and staff collectively mentor all mentees, so that these talented young adults can draw on a broad range of skill sets and networks.
DONATE HERE (Please include “The NY Mentorship Collective” in the order note)

So Many Wings So Many Wings is a podcast that draws on founders Jacks McNamara and Sascha Altman DuBrul’s backgrounds in transformative mental health and social justice organizing to gather people and share stories and visions in hopes of achieving collective liberation. This project is a node in the growing network of creatively maladjusted folks who are rising up and capturing the imaginations of people who are ready for change. Be sure to check out So Many Wings on Facebook and Instagram and to listen to their podcast!
DONATE HERE (Please include “So Many Wings” in the order note)

Thompson Drive Thompson Drive is a Coney Island-based youth development organization. Thompson Drive provides teens with mentors, tutors, and holistic programming to ensure they stay on track in school and learn the skills necessary to have healthy social and emotional interactions with their peers, teachers, and neighbors. It is a place for youth to feel seen, safe, and listened to, all while learning the skills they’ll need for a successful transition to adult life. Follow Thompson Drive on Facebook.
DONATE HERE

Right to Parent Right to Parent is an organization committed to supporting and advocating on behalf of parents who have left, or are leaving, strict religious marriages and communities. Right to Parent was formed as an outgrowth of doctoral research conducted by Miriam Moster on mothers leaving Hasidic marriages. Over the course of her research, Miriam learned of the need for advocacy around this issue as well as the need for services and resources to support these mothers as well as fathers leaving Hasidic and other enclavist religious communities and marriages.
DONATE HERE

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) reveals the connection between religion and ecology and mobilizes faith communities to act. ICSD works on a global basis, with current engagement in Africa, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. ICSD also provides thought-leadership to faith-based communities and beyond through their writing, speaking, teaching and advocacy. Follow Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development on Youtube and Facebook.
DONATE HERE

ABC Food Tours Matt James and Tyler Cameron founded ABC Food Tours to create experiences for New York City students facing challenges in food insecurity and adversity at home. They have exposed students to positive role models for healthy lifestyles, professional careers, and arts leadership. These sustainable programs will create lasting impacts as the experience engine of ABC Food Tours churns out more opportunities and partnerships. So far, ABC Food Tours has taken over 1,500 students on more than 30 tours. Follow ABC Food Tours on Instagram and Facebook.
DONATE HERE

Supporting Social Justice Through Giving Circles

A nationwide wave of protests has generated an unprecedented number of donations to Black-led organizing groups, bail and mutual aid funds, and racial justice organizations. To inspire even more giving and to sustain giving over time, Amplifier, one of FJC’s fiscally sponsored projects, has been focused on providing resources and tools to organizations and people to inspire them to give.

Since 2014, Amplifier has helped launch over 125 giving circles, creating a community of educated, empowered, values-driven givers. A giving circle is a group of people who pool their charitable donations and decide together how to allocate the combined funds. Amplifier has learned that givers are transformed by being part of a giving circle: they have more meaning and purpose in their giving; they understand how they can most influence and create change they want; and they build meaningful relationships with others. The giving circle platform amplifies the impact an individual can have with their giving.

To confront inequity within philanthropy, Amplifier is leveraging its role in the Jewish community to ignite and uplift racial justice giving and working closely with diverse giving circles and giving circle networks through the United States. As a member of the co-design team, Amplifier played a key role in founding Philanthropy Together, a new initiative that diversifies philanthropy by developing leadership among giving circles led by people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ people, different giving capacities, youth, people in rural communities, religious minorities, and many, many more. Amplifier has also partnered with the Community Investment Network, a network of giving circles of particularly focused on strengthening African-American communities.

Diversifying philanthropy is a key component to building a more equitable society, explains Fisher. “Giving circles tend to be local, focusing on recognized leadership in their communities,” she says. “As giving circles become more diverse, we believe that more resources will be directed toward organizations led by people of color that might have been overlooked by traditional philanthropy.”

As a participant in FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, Amplifier uses FJC’s 501(c)(3) status to collect tax-deductible contributions and foundation grants. Supporters have included the Natan Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose funding supported the building of the Philanthropy Together initiative.

For more information about giving circles, and opportunities to match fund giving circles led by people of color, please visit www.amplifiergiving.org or email hello@amplifiergiving.org

Tackling Racial Disparities in Mental Health

They came together this summer virtually, with expertise pulled from public and private universities, finance and health care companies, the technology sector, mental health and other disciplines. Their mandate? To outline ways that higher education, along with a range of stakeholders, can promote the mental health and emotional wellbeing of young people of color and mitigate the mental health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Steve Fund COVID-19 Task Force is one of several initiatives of The Steve Fund, the nation’s leading organization focused on supporting the mental, social, and emotional health and well-being of young people of color. “Among communities of color, there has often been a stigma about accessing mental health services,” explains Evan Rose, President of The Steve Fund’s Board. “We were committed to ensuring a safe journey to adulthood for youth of color.”

FJC is honored to have incubated The Steve Fund as it grew from its early
days, when the organization was born of personal tragedy. The Fund is named for Stephen Rose, an African-American graduate of Harvard and City College, who died from mental illness in 2014. In the grief and shock following this tragic event, Mr. Rose’s family was determined to help other young people to achieve mental and emotional wellness. They chose to do so by working with higher education institutions to better recognize the particular challenges faced by young adults of color, and design proactive strategies to support them.

“We have been on a journey with FJC,” said Mr. Rose. “FJC made it easy and straightforward to get started, so that we could focus on our mission without worrying about the administrative details.” The initiative started with a Collective Giving Account at FJC, which raised over $120,000 from 60 donors in its first year. As the ambitions of the initiative grew, the family started the organization under FJC’s fiscal sponsorship and subsequently spun off into its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The organization has grown significantly from its early days.

The task force is just one of many strategies The Steve Fund uses to drive long term culture change in colleges, universities and the organizations that support young people of color to pursue and succeed in higher education. The Steve Fund has held nine conferences on higher ed campuses—from CUNY to Stanford, provides mental health resources and expertise, and forges alliances across mental health professionals who provide culturally sensitive support to students from Black, Asian American, Latinx, Native American, Muslim and other ethnic groups. Their networks include historically Black colleges, community colleges, Ivy League universities like Harvard and Brown, and community based organizations.

“There are two crises plaguing America right now – coronavirus and racial injustice – and both are adding a perilous layer of stress and distress, especially for young people of color,” says Sandra Timmons, Interim Executive Director at The Steve Fund. “Fostering resilience among young people of color caught in this current quagmire of the COVID-19 pandemic, associated devastation, and racial trauma warrants deliberate and intentional investments and support services across sectors that remove young people of color from harm’s way.”

For more information about the Task Force, see their press release.

A DAF Sponsor Mobilizes Resources for the Nonprofit Sector

Part Two of the Nonprofit Lowdown podcast featuring CEO Sam Marks (air date: March 12, 2020)

In November 2019, Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer of FJC, was interviewed for the podcast Nonprofit Lowdown with Rhea Wong. The interview was a reunion of sorts for these two, as Sam was Rhea’s first boss in 1999 when she worked at Summerbridge at the Town School (now known as Breakthrough New York, an organization Rhea later ran for over a decade).

Part One of this interview focuses on Sam’s professional journey from his early years in youth development and education to “the dollars and cents side” of the nonprofit sector.

Part Two of the interview focuses on his particular vantage point at FJC, and covers Donor Advised Funds, nonprofit lending, and fiscal sponsorships.

The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

So now you’re the CEO of FJC.  What is that and what do you do?

FJC is a foundation, primarily comprised of Donor Advised Funds or DAFs.  The way a DAF works is, you set up an account, you move money into it.  That money becomes legally the asset of FJC. The donor gets the full tax benefit of making that donation.  But the donor can recommend two things: how that money is invested over time, similar to a foundation endowment.  We provide donors with a menu of investment options like stocks and fixed income. They can also recommend how those funds are turned into grants to nonprofit organizations they care about.

“The [DAF] donor can recommend two things: how that money is invested over time, similar to a foundation endowment, and how those funds are turned into grants to nonprofit organizations they care about.”

You have another part of the house so to speak.  Explain the investment side.

The investment side is how we steward the assets of our donors over time.  Donors can choose to put it in stocks or bonds. There are some donors, if they’re  big enough, they can bring a hedge fund or an alternative investment onto our platform.  But one of the most popular ways is our impact investing opportunity, FJC’s Agency Loan Fund, which is a pool of donor capital that is deployed as loans to nonprofit organizations. So it’s great for the donors, because their money can be put to work in the community, supporting the missions of organizations.  The principal and interest payments come back to their accounts, so those accounts can grow.  They can still make grants with them, but in the meantime, that money is being lent to a full gamut of organizations. Our borrowers are making energy efficiency improvements in buildings, doing homeless services, arts organizations, and more.

Why would a nonprofit organization be interested in taking out a loan?

It’s typically to bridge some kind of commitment.  If you have a city or state contract for services, and you’re working with youth afterschool or doing foreclosure counseling, it’s great to have that contract but you can’t pay the bills with a contract.  You can only pay the bills with cash. Many city and state contracts for various reasons take a long time to pay. So many of the nonprofits that come to us have an urgent cash flow need, and we’re a pretty nimble, flexible organization.  We can turn a decision around about a loan in just a couple or three weeks. A lot of nonprofits find that to be a critical service to even out their cash flow, make payroll, or pay their vendors.

What do you look for when you’re making a loan?

The types of organizations we work with are a range of sizes and missions, but they have to be credit-worthy. That means they have to have some experience, not necessarily being a borrower (a lot of our borrowers have never borrowed money before), but they have to have some ability to have an informed conversation about their finances and their plan to repay the loan. Typically, we’re bridging a city or state contract, or a capital grant.  They have to be able to understand their business well enough to say how they are going to pay it back.

They will also need some kind of collateral. In some cases that can be a piece of real estate that we can secure the loan, but other times they may be able to provide a guarantee. Perhaps a guarantor on their board or some other asset that can serve as collateral.

Is there a general size of loan that you’re looking at?

It runs the gamut. We’ve made loans as small as $10,000 and as high as $4 million.  Above $4 million we sometimes work with a co-lender or two. So we’re pretty flexible.

“[FJC’s Agency Loan Fund] is great for the donors, because their money can be put to work in the community, supporting the missions of organizations. The principal and interest payments come back to their accounts, so those accounts can grow.”

What other lending options are there out there for nonprofits?

There are banks and credit unions.  There are banks with very focused nonprofit business lines like Amalgamated Bank or M&T.  There are also community development financial institutions, or CDFIs. Examples include LISC, where I used to work, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Low income Investment Fund, and many others.  These are specialized nonprofit lenders.  They are nonprofits themselves, and they lend to nonprofits.  They tend to focus more on capital projects, like affordable housing or community centers.  They tend to lend secured against real estate, though not always. The Fund for the City of New York will also lend against city contracts. So there is an ecosystem that serves this niche.

“We’re a good [lending] option for organizations whose needs are maybe a little bit more urgent, and we can be pretty flexible and nimble about getting to yes.”

Why would an organization choose to approach you for a loan, as opposed to getting a line of credit from a bank?

Bank loans are probably going to be a little bit cheaper, if you can get one.  The reason we are competitive is that we are very fast and nimble in terms of our decision making. We’re a pretty small outfit.  A bank or larger institutions may have credit committees and layers or approval processes, and they may have people making decisions about loans that don’t particularly know about the nonprofit sector. They might not be comfortable with a city or state contract acting as repayment source. But we know the nonprofit sector really well, and we can get to a decision pretty quickly.

If a nonprofit has enough lead time and relationships at a bank, maybe they keep their deposits there, if they can make a line of credit work, they should definitely do that. We’re a good option for organizations whose needs are maybe a little bit more urgent, and we can be pretty flexible and nimble about getting to yes.

What else should nonprofits consider if thinking about taking out a loan?  What else do you look for in deciding if a nonprofit is ready for a loan? Do they need to have a CFO?

Nonprofit organizations can get to that level of sophistication in a lot of different ways.  It can be an Executive Director or a Board Member where that expertise sits. There are organizations that become big and complex enough, where the business fundamentals include different revenue sources like earned revenue, grants and multiple city and state contracts. Then the cash flow forecasting gets to be more complicated.  You might have an investment portfolio.  In those cases we often see organizations with CFOs. We see a lot of organizations starting to outsource their CFO function. There are companies like BTQ Financial that work with a lot of organizations we know.  FMA is another one. So there are a lot of different solutions that are tailored to nonprofits.

I should mention also, another part of our business is fiscal sponsorships. These are with organizations that are earlier in their life cycle. These are organizations that don’t have their own 501(c)(3) status. They want to get donations but they don’t have that IRS determination letter yet. We can act as the 501(c)(3), we can accept grant payments, we can pay their vendors and provide them with some pretty basic accounting of their income and expenses. We have about 160 organizations we work with. We are set up to do that because having DAFs, we’re set up to be accepting money and getting payments out in a pretty rapid way, so those capabilities fit well with a fiscal sponsorship program.

“[Our fiscal sponsorship program works with] organizations that are earlier in their life cycle. They want to get donations but they don’t have that IRS determination letter yet.  We can act as the 501(c)(3).”

What’s the cost of your fiscal sponsorship program?

Our fiscal sponsorship program is pretty reasonably priced.  It’s generally 4-6% of inbound donations (plus 1% annually on the average daily balance).  And the reason why we’re reasonable is that we’re a pretty bare-bones fiscal sponsorship program. Other organizations will provide a lot more types of services or technical assistance.  We engage with our organizations a lot and give them a lot of advice and contacts but it’s done in a more informal way.

Part One of this interview focuses on Sam’s professional journey from his early years in youth development and education to “the dollars and cents side” of the nonprofit sector.

For an audio version of this interview (and dozens of others with nonprofit leaders), check out Nonprofit Lowdown, Rhea Wong’s fabulous podcast, where she reviews and recommends the best ideas, resources, tools, tricks and tips to “run your nonprofit like a pro!”

Photo courtesy of DreamStreet Theatre Company

2019 Year in Review: Fiscal Sponsorship

FJC welcome 14 new organizations to our fiscal sponsorship program, providing our tax-exempt umbrella to new partners who do not have their own 501(c)(3) status.

Bronx Eats makes healthy cooking and eating a community habit through hands-on food education…Changing Ground Project is an urban development initiative that uses land readjustment strategies, combined with a community land trust model to assist communities in redeveloping existing suburban areas…Columba Leadership Trust partners with schools serving economically disadvantaged communities in South Africa to ensure that large numbers of young people are empowered to bring change to their own communities…The District 13 Fund for Equity taps the philanthropic opportunities of the real estate industry by offering brokerages, individual brokers, and developers the opportunity to make tax-free donations that support neighborhood schools in Central Brooklyn…DreamStreet Theatre Company provides education and inspiration for adults with special needs who have a passion for the performing and creative arts…GenTech works to educate senior citizens about technology and social media in order to positively impact their lives and feelings of connectedness…Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin is a nonprofit arts and culture association that remembers and celebrates James Baldwin in St. Paul de Vence, France…Mt Carmel Teen Project serves the community in the Belmont area of the Bronx through intensive after-school programming for teens as well as workshops and services for the general community… Museum of the Courageous celebrates our shared humanity by documenting interventions and practical responses to hate crimes and acts of hate, with the aim of inspiring and empowering everyone to stand up to hate, from generation to generation…myPadilla leverages technology to provide technical assistance to criminal defense attorneys in Texas regarding the immigration consequences of contact with the criminal justice system so that their immigrant clients are empowered to make informed decisions and meet their immigration goals…Oligophrenin Foundation supports patients and families with OPHN1 syndrome and promotes clinical research aiming to develop treatments for this rare genetic disorder…Spruce Street Minyan is a vibrant, traditional, and egalitarian minyan for young professionals and graduate students living in Philadelphia…Supplies for Success provides backpacks to low-income students filled with age-appropriate school supplies before the first day of school so children can start school prepared to learn…Welcome Baby provides low-income families with one package containing all of the items they’ll need for their newborn in the first four weeks of life.