Call for Conversations

Background

At UJA, we identify and meet the needs of New Yorkers and Jews everywhere. Our abiding mission — to care for Jews everywhere and New Yorkers of all backgrounds, respond to crises close to home and far away, and shape our Jewish future — guides our work every day.

To achieve our mission, UJA currently awards targeted grants to 501c3-certified nonprofit organizations to advance a diverse range of initiatives that, among other things, address poverty, unemployment, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Our grants also focus on strengthening Jewish engagement and connection to Jewish life, as well as promoting leadership in the community.

Since our founding more than 100 years ago, our grants have reflected our vision for the Jewish community to serve as a source of inspiration and connectivity, and as a beacon to provide care for the vulnerable — for Jews and non-Jews alike. To ensure that our impact is sustainable, our funding priorities change with evolving needs. And so, too, must our allocation strategies – which is where you come in.

Defining a New Approach

UJA is currently exploring new models of funding to complement our traditional grantmaking methods. Specifically, we’re undertaking an exploration and development process utilizing concepts and ideas from impact investing to identify and formalize ways that our dollars can have an even greater impact on the individuals and communities we serve.

We are currently in the process of defining what impact investing means in the context of our work. At present, we view it as investing in projects that build sustainability for organizations and recycle capital. To advance our learning process, we’re interested in program and organizational models that are structured in a way that would allow one-time impact funding from UJA to be recycled, either:

  1. within the program’s model, thereby demonstrating a sustainable social business, or
  2. by returning the funding to UJA once the program has earned revenue, thereby demonstrating a viable impact funding opportunity.

Criteria for Consideration

Relevant programs and organizational models should be designed with a double bottom line, demonstrating both a financial and social return. In this vein, such program models will be evaluated following these criteria:

  1. A clear articulation of the theory of change;
  2. Benchmarking procedures for financial return and measurable social return;
  3. Timeline demonstrating stages of business development;
  4. Strong governance structure that supports both the financial and social components.
    UJA would ultimately consider funding opportunities that meet the above criteria and are likely in the range of $50,000 to $200,000. Program models must have a direct impact in New York City, Long Island, and/or Westchester.

Next Steps – Call for Conversations!

We want to hear from you if your organization has developed or is interested in developing a program model that fits the above criteria and seeks to make an impact in one or more of the following areas:

  • Poverty alleviation
  • Youth at risk
  • Aging
  • Employment for marginalized populations
  • Jewish social justice
  • Jewish identity development in communities, on campus, or through immersive experiences

At this time, we are not soliciting formal proposals. Instead, we’d like to have conversations with 501c3 organizations or for-profits companies with 501c3 subsidiaries, which will enable us to learn more about relevant program models and how we might best structure our funding.

If you are interested, please send a short synopsis (1-2 paragraphs) of your idea to Alex Roth-Kahn by June 12. We will be in touch to discuss a potential meeting in mid July.