Agency Seeds New Collaborative of Five Jewish Service Agencies to Address Community Economic Needs
LOS ANGELES (May 5, 2009) – The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (the foundation) today announced it is distributing $1 million in grants for emergency services such as food, employment and mental health counseling, loans and tuition scholarships to help alleviate economic suffering experienced by members of the Greater Los Angeles Jewish community.
Grants totaling $750,000 will go to five Jewish agencies in a new collaboration called the Jewish Family Relief Network. The network includes Jewish Family Service, Jewish Vocational Service, Jewish Free Loan Association, Bureau of Jewish Education, and Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. Funds will be used to deliver services to first-time clients who have been recently affected by layoffs, work reductions, changes in family finances or other situations directly related to the economic downturn.
The foundation awarded an additional grant of $250,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for its Emergency Cash Grants Initiative, which provides funds directly to individuals and families to meet their immediate needs.
“All of the agencies in the Jewish Family Relief Network have a long history of serving people who are in need, and unfortunately, all these agencies are experiencing a dramatic increase in requests as a result of the recession,” said Marvin I. Schotland, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.
“Formation of the Jewish Family Relief Network offers a new approach to leveraging limited resources, and we expect to serve more members of the community more effectively through this collaborative effort. We hope that for individuals and families served by the Jewish Family Relief Network, the emergency assistance will provide the boost they need to put them on the road to self-sufficiency.”
Coordinated Case Management
Agencies in the Jewish Family Relief Network will coordinate their efforts to refer and deliver services to clients using a shared system to track individuals, services, scholarships, and/or loans provided.
If a family comes to Jewish Family Service (JFS) for mental health counseling, they may also be referred to Jewish Vocational Service for job assessment, training and placement. “The economic crisis and state budget cuts are impacting our clients on multiple fronts. We know to move forward not only do they need counseling and help with basics such as groceries, they also need help finding a job, paying bills and other support,” said Paul S. Castro, executive director and CEO of Jewish Family Service.
The statistics that follow illustrate the spiraling demand for assistance from agencies comprising the Relief Network:
Jewish Family Service
On the front lines of helping those affected by the difficult economic climate, Jewish Family Service’s centralized intake phone line has experienced a 130 percent increase in calls since last year. The JFS/SOVA community food and resource program helped over 7,000 clients this January, compared to fewer than 5,000 clients in January 2008 – a 43 percent increase. JFS will receive $250,000 for case management and purchase of basic need items such as food, clothing and medication, and services for a minimum of 100 clients during the 18-month grant period. Individuals and families will be assigned a care worker to navigate their care and can receive up to 20 hours of case management services.
Jewish Vocational Service
Those seeking guidance from Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) include many who never thought they would turn to a social service agency: retirees forced to return to work and career executives unemployed for the first time in decades. To date in 2009, the agency has seen a 160 percent increase in Jewish families seeking assistance, compared to the same period last year. A $150,000 grant will enable JVS to offer individualized skills assessment, coaching and industry-specific training to some 100 clients.
Jewish Free Loan Association
Over the past several months, The Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) has seen a 30 percent increase in demand compared with the same period last year. JFLA will use its $150,000 grant to establish a special loan fund for first-time clients capable of repayment who need cash immediately to cover basic needs such as food, housing, monthly mortgage payments, transportation, and medical or dental expenses.
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters Scholarship Program
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters’ (JBBBS) Scholarship program offers financial aid to former little brothers and sisters pursuing post-secondary education. This year, many of their parents are out of work or being evicted, and students are under more stress than ever. JBBBS has received many calls from students changing schools or considering dropping out until they or their families recover financially. The Foundation grant of $50,000 will provide scholarships of up to two years for ten to 15 college students whose families are California residents. JBBBS will match the scholarships 2-to-1 through its endowed scholarship program.
Bureau of Jewish Education
According to a recent Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) survey of 26 area Jewish day schools, more than 230 families have asked to renegotiate tuition for this year and 103 students dropped out before the start of the school year. Thirty-four dropped out during the first semester and 19 did not return to school for the second semester, mostly due to financial hardship. With a $150,000 grant from The Foundation, BJE will provide tuition assistance for up to 50 families for the next school year.