Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Russian philanthropists make another big grant

The Genesis Philanthropy Group, which was started by four Jewish Russian billionaires, has given yet another big grant to help the Russian speaking North American community.The group has given $2.7 million to the Wexner Foundation to create two Wexner Heritage classes with the UJA Federation of New York that would be comprised of Russian speaking Jews in New York and to create two fellowships through Wexner's existing fellowship program that would pay for graduate school for two Russian speaking Jews who were committed to becoming Jewish communal professionals.

Since 1984, the Wexner Foundation has run two-year intensive leadership programs focused on Jewish history, thought and text for about 20 students per cohort. The Genesis group is providing the money for the Russian speaking fellows, while the Wexner foundation will run the project and create special Russian programming.

This is the third significant grant that the Genesis group has given out in the past several weeks. In mid-March, the group gave a $5 million grant to the Foundation for Jewish Camp to increase the number of Russian-speaking Jewish youth who attend Jewish overnight camp in North America. And last week, the group gave nearly $11 million to Brandeis University to help increase its Russian population and to create scholarships for graduate studies.

"I don't think it is any accident that this grant is with the Wexner foundation," said the president of the Jewish Funders Network, Mark Charendoff. "I think the strategy that his group of donors decided to pursue is not just in a certain content area, but they only want to make significant investments in institutions that have a proven track record of service delivery and exceptional management teams. One of the attractions for working with Wexner is you are buying into an extraordinarily strong management team. The same was true of campaign grant and the Brandeis grant."

In addition to the $2.7 million grant to The Wexner Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group has allocated an additional $2.1 million for leadership development and is making the following one year (renewable) grants to support and grow leadership among the Russian-speaking Jewish community:

  • § $150,000 to Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), Canada to support their Decades-Plus Leadership Development Program for Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants
  • § $150,000 to Moishe Houses to open three houses in North America for Russian-speaking Jewish young adults.
  • § $285,000 to the Center for Leadership Initiatives (CLI) to devise and host leadership development gatherings specifically for Russian-speaking professionals in the Jewish community and for Russian-speaking young adults.