Women’s Alliance Endowment Fund supports local and overseas programs

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Every year, the Women’s Alliance Endowment Fund (WAEF) of the Jewish Federation Foundation at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island seeks proposals for grants, with priority given to innovative programs and services that benefit Jewish women and girls and have the potential for long-term impact.

Educational, civic, cultural, religious, and inter-group programs are considered, as well as health and social service initiatives. All Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts and overseas Jewish organizations, agencies and synagogues encouraged to apply for funding. 

This year, WAEF members will convene at the annual meeting May 23 to determine local and overseas grants for the coming fiscal year.

Two programs that received funding last year are the Dr. Israel Goldstein Youth Village’s Music Bands and the Jaffa Institute’s Stepping Stone.

The Dr. Israel Goldstein Youth Village is a residential school in Jerusalem providing academics to Jewish children from at-risk backgrounds. Established in 1949, the Village has been a home to students from all over the world, including new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, France and Ethiopia. It offers a renonwned program for Autistic students, enabling students to discover and realize their abilities, while fostering creativity and independence as Jews, contributing to Israeli society.

Their Music Bands initiative is an innovative, effective program assisting Jewish students of all abilities to build musical ability, therapeutic support and socio-emotional confidence.

With funding from the WAEF, four musical bands comprised of five students each assemble daily to play instruments, sing, and work together to compose, rehearse, and perform musical compositions at village events, making students feel a part of something larger than themselves. Music Bands empowers students by providing them with opportunities to advance academically, personally, and socially through a musical lens.

The Jaffa Institute’s Stepping Stone is a day program for at-risk adolescent girls that addresses the needs of disadvantaged girls in Tel Aviv, where half of the population lives below the poverty line and 53 percent drop out before completing high school. Those who attend Stepping Stone have been identified as “at-risk” due to extreme poverty, parental illness, neglect, and sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse. The Jaffa Institute program offers participants a safe space to receive counseling and begin to heal their pasts, impacting their futures more positively.

Stepping Stone staff include a housemother, counselor, National Service volunteer, and a certified social worker, all trained to provide an enriching, therapeutic framework to build trust and to form positive relationships with adults and peers. The at-risk girls learn to create healthy social connections and meaningful personal relationships with individuals in their lives. Stepping Stone staff provides all the program participants with individualized academic support to ensure every girl is school-ready and motivated to remain in school through 12th grade and beyond.

Programs like Music Bands and Stepping Stone are similar in that they make a positive difference in students’ lives immediately and long-term. WAEF also supports local programs that aim to provide for the needs of our youth, including programs such as Jewish Community Day School’s Girls Power Lunch, a series dedicated to establishing a space where girls can address issues with friends, discuss concerns and feelings, and challenges at home or at school; Congregation Beth Sholom’s Women, Torah, and Scholarship Series, devoted to empowering women and girls through the lens of Torah; and, formal and thorough sexual harassment training for all counselors and staff working at Camp JORI.

Whether in Rhode Island, Israel, or around the world, the Women’s Alliance Endowment Fund supports programs and services aiming to make a difference in the lives of women and children. You can enrich this work by joining WAEF and participating in the annual grants cycle. For more information on joining WAEF, contact Jennifer Zwirn at jzwirn@jewishallianceri.org or 401-421-4111, ext. 102.