Negev Work Group
The JFNA Negev Work Group: Background and Goals
The Negev Task Force, now the Negev Work Group, was established in February 2006. The goals of the Negev Work Group are to explore and recommend the most appropriate and effective ways The Jewish Federations of North America-Federation movement can provide a meaningful, strategic contribution to the Negev and to advocate for the Negev within the Federation movement and in other forums e.g. the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The Negev Work Group reaffirms the development of the Negev as vital to Israel’s security and future economic growth, and as an important goal for the organization. Major objectives include attracting and retaining a strong population of young adults to the Negev; improved employment and educational opportunities; addressing the needs of the Bedouin community; connecting the region geographically, culturally and economically to the rest of the country; and improving the image of the region in the eyes of its residents within Israeli society and internationally.
The Negev Work Group is chaired by Marilyn Blumer and consists of members from over 20 federations in North America.
The Negev Funding Coalition
The Negev Funding Coalition is an initiative of the JFNA Negev Work Group. Currently composed of eight federations and one partner organization, the Coalition builds on each Federation's respective involvement in the Negev and has created a vehicle for interested federations, foundations and other funders voluntarily to collaborate philanthropically in joint funding of strategic, high impact projects which address the Negev’s significant challenges.
Coalition members believe it is necessary to bring together a greater pool of resources to identify and undertake one or more broader Negev-wide initiatives. The Coalition members consider that such efforts, alongside ongoing education, information sharing and growing coordination in the Federation movement, will inspire and benefit the development of the Negev.
The mission of the Coalition is ‘to inspire and support the development of the Negev, driven by a shared passion for the opportunities the Negev provides for its residents, Israeli society and our Diaspora communities’.
The Negev Funding Coalition, established in Spring 2011, currently includes eight federations (Federation CJA of Montreal, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of MetroWest, Central New Jersey, Jewish Federation of Delaware, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Jewish Federation of San Diego County, UJA Federation of NY and UJA Federation of Toronto), each of which has made funding commitments to fund together one or more pan-Negev projects to be decided upon together.
At the beginning of the process, each interested federation made a ‘soft commitment’ of $25k, with the understanding that once the coalition as a group came up with recommended programs for funding, each would return to their respective federations for a ‘hard commitment'. Coalition members discussed and agreed upon goals and criteria for pan-Negev programs and then entered a process of analyzing and paring down submitted proposals in key areas that would have a pan-Negev impact. Ultimately, the Coalition selected two innovative programs to fund in 2012-2013, Year Two of the Coalition:
a) Young Communities, Sustainable Future and b) STEM education in the Negev.
a) The Young Communities, Sustainable Future program is operated by a partnership of four Israeli young adult organizations collaborating with ten young adult communities throughout the Negev as a network. This program supports and guides the young adult communities in their efforts to develop and provide significant and stable social service projects both locally and regionally (Negev-wide). The federation Coalition is partnered with the Jewish Agency and the Shahaf Foundation and the Gandyr Foundation, the two leading Israeli philanthropic bodies in the young adult field. Visit the Young Communities, Sustainable Future webpage.
b) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educationfor high schools in the Negev.
In Year One of the Coalition (2011-2012), the group funded Enabling a Brighter Future, a creative joint public-private program facilitating the use of cutting-edge Israeli technology in the field of renewal energy for use throughout the Negev in small community settings. The program, together with private investors and the GOI, helped create the first dedicated fund for the promotion of renewable energy projects in the Negev region. Read an article on the program.
Robin Karol Eng, of the Jewish Federation of Delaware, is the Chair of the Negev Funding Coalition. Richard Bernstein, of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the previous Chair of the Negev Funding Coalition can be seen describing its activities here.
The coalition is open to all interested federations and foundations and is currently gearing up towards its second year of activity together.
Education, Convening and Knowledge Sharing
In 2010 the Work Group launched a Negev list serve and a page on the JFNA website, which share information among interested federations and the federation movement as a whole. It convenes federation lay leaders and professionals for conferences, study tours and meetings with key GOI officials and Negev civil society leaders.
Contact Talya Levin, Assistant Director of Program and Planning, for more information and to join the list serve.