Steuart Street entrance to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation (FILE PHOTO)
Steuart Street entrance to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation (FILE PHOTO)

SF-based Jewish Federation announces first wave of emergency grants

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation has named 17 Bay Area organizations that will receive grants from its Covid-19 emergency response fund.

In this first round of grantmaking, the Federation said it prioritized “urgent human service and economic needs,” handing out $655,000 to both Jewish and secular organizations dealing primarily with health care, food provisions and financial assistance for those impacted by the public health and economic crises created by the pandemic.

A second round of grantmaking is set for the week of May 4, focusing on Jewish life and the Jewish community, or the “stability of the Jewish ecosystem,” the Federation said.

The two largest grant recipients in the Federation’s first round are S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services and the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. Each organization is receiving $150,000.

“Although we are daunted by the enormity of the threat of COVID-19, we also have deep confidence in the ability of our community to face it,” the Federation said in a statement posted on its website.

The S.F.-based Federation, which joined forces last summer with the East Bay Federation and also serves the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties, is one of the largest in the country, reporting total financial resource development of over $100 million, and an endowment of $2.2 billion, 95% of which is earmarked for giving.

In total, the Federation hopes to raise $4 million from donors for its emergency Covid-19 Response Fund, announced in mid-March as shelter-in-place orders were going into effect. It has raised about a quarter of that amount to date.

The Federation also greenlighted $2.2 million from its unrestricted endowment for emergency grantmaking during the public health crisis.

To help decide which organizations to fund, the Federation sent out a “needs assessment” survey to local nonprofits in March. It heard back from 85 organizations, from JCCs to Jewish day schools to social service agencies. The total projected revenue losses for all groups combined, should stay-home orders last through June, was $43 million, according to a Federation PowerPoint shared with J.

Other first-wave grant recipients include Jewish Vocational Service, a nonprofit that helps people find employment, and Shalom Bayit, which aids survivors of domestic violence and has seen its severity of calls increase since stay-home orders went into effect. Both organizations are receiving $25,000.

Sam Salkin, executive director of Sinai Memorial Chapel in San Francisco, said he was “incredibly grateful” to receive $25,000 in funding. The money will be put toward funding “dignified Jewish burials,” Salkin said, for those unable to pay — the chapel usually budgets about $250,000 per year for that purpose, but this year is expecting higher demand.

“We know there is a tremendous amount of need in a multiplicity of areas” across the community, Salkin said. “We’re just appreciative to be recognized as one of the places that communal support needs to go to.”

The majority of grantees are receiving between $15,000 and $25,000.

Along with health care organizations like the SFCJL, HealthRight 360 and RotaCare Bay Area, which runs free medical clinics, many organizations receiving emergency response fund grants are food banks or food services. They include Project Open Hand, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and San Mateo-based Samaritan House, which delivers meals to home-bound seniors. The Federation prioritized “essential safety-net services” this round.

The city of San Francisco is also receiving a $20,000 grant for its own Covid-19 response efforts.

Lastly, the Federation announced more than $1.2 million in stopgap funding to Hebrew Free Loan, with money coming from donor-advised funds and foundations managed by the Federation. The money will help HFL “meet the unprecedented demand” for interest-free loans to individuals and businesses affected by the crisis. Those funds are recoverable, meaning they will be paid back following a five-year term.

Grant assessments for future rounds are underway. More information, and a list of all the grantees, can be found here.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.