2021 Grants Press Release

Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta will award a record-breaking $225,000 to two Jewish organizations selected to work in partnership to create a multi-tiered program to empower women and girls in Atlanta’s Jewish community. This first-ever signature grant will be distributed over a three-year period and represents the largest single project allocation ever funded by the organization. The call for a signature grant was launched following JWFA’s landmark 2020 community study that uncovered crucial details regarding challenges faced by Jewish women and girls in Atlanta.

Contact: Rachel Wasserman / 678.222.3716 / rwasserman@jwfatlanta.org

Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta Announces Historic Local Grant to Empower Healthy Relationships for Women

The program is a collaboration between Jewish Family & Career Services and MACoM: Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah

ATLANTA, GA – June 2, 2021 – Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta will award a record-breaking $225,000 to two Jewish organizations selected to work in partnership to create a multi-tiered program to empower women and girls in Atlanta’s Jewish community. This first-ever signature grant will be distributed over a three-year period and represents the largest single project allocation ever funded by the organization.

“This moment is the culmination of many years of planning, discussion, and data gathering and a heartfelt desire to make a tangible impact right here in our own backyard,” says Rachel Wasserman, Executive Director of Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to make a real difference for women and girls in our community in a deeply meaningful and ongoing way at a time when the need has never been greater. Our leadership was blown away by the thoughtfulness, scope and depth of the grant proposal presented by JF&CS and MACoM and we could not be more pleased to throw such major support behind this important initiative. By facilitating the creation of this project, we are sending a clear message to women and girls: we see your struggle, and we are here to help.”

The call for a signature grant was launched following JWFA’s landmark 2020 community study that uncovered crucial details regarding challenges faced by Jewish women and girls in Atlanta. The study was conducted by researchers at Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and was the first of its kind to delve into issues specific to this population. Themes exposed through the study included ongoing work-life balance challenges for both teens and working women, resulting in mental health struggles and an increase in anxiety and stress levels, and the need for quality mentor resources for women and girls within our community.

The study’s findings took on a renewed sense of urgency in the aftermath of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which served to intensify many of the challenges identified in the report.

“When Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta first released the findings of their community study in early 2020, our clinicians were not at all surprised to see the alarming statistics indicating that women and teen girls are struggling with mental health issues at record levels. Little did we know that we were on the precipice of one of the most serious mental health crises our country has ever experienced,” notes Terri Bonoff, CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services. “The findings of the study have only been amplified during the past year, and this extraordinary show of financial support from JWFA will enable us to create strategic programming and innovative resources geared specifically to meet the immediate needs of women and girls in Atlanta.”

Working in concert, Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) and MACoM: Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah will create a variety of curricula designed to break the stigmas associated with mental health challenges and offer increased support and connection. The initiative will cover a myriad of issues, including the “Superwoman Complex” specifically identified in JWFA’s 2020 study as one of the most critical challenges. The program will explore new methods of mitigating rising levels of anxiety and stress among women and girls in Atlanta’s Jewish community, offer additional resources aimed at creating work/school-life balance, and providing valuable strategies for female caregivers. Additional efforts will focus on abuse prevention and healthy relationship education, as well as peer-to-peer mentor trainings and mental health first aid workshops for both children and adults.

“Embracing the idea of mikvah immersion to promote a sense of healing and wellbeing makes MACoM a natural fit for women’s empowerment,” says Jocelyn Shorvitz, Executive Director of MACoM. “Contrary to what some believe is a tradition aimed primarily at the more religious community, mikvah is an essential and uniquely Jewish tool for anyone seeking to achieve elevated levels of connection and balance. We know that mikvah immersion often elicits a sense of closure, bringing an invaluable spiritual element to the therapeutic practices offered at JF&CS.”

The signature grant allocation is just a portion of the total allocations funded by JWFA this fiscal year, which will distribute an additional $156,200 to 14 organizations locally, nationally, and in Israel. Several grants focus on addressing gender-based discrimination and harassment in Jewish workplaces, which is a continuation of the work JWFA began last year with its Change the Culture Summit. Earlier this year, JWFA funded emergency grants of $45,000, including grants to two local organizations to provide subsidized childcare for working mothers during the pandemic.

“The enormous pressure on women and girls to ‘do it all’ is simply untenable and detrimental to our well-being. As a working mom, I can tell you it is critically important for our community to do all it can to address the societal pressures that continually tell us that nothing short of perfection is ok,” says Mindy Binderman, JWFA Grant Chair. “We must eradicate this antiquated mode of thinking and create healthy and realistic goals for women at all stages of life. Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta is committed to creating a society where women and girls know their intrinsic value and feel safe and supported. The new programs funded through our signature grant take all the key findings of JWFA’s 2020 community study and offer solutions that have the potential to create real, measurable change right here at home.”

Founded in 2012, Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta promotes social change and expands positive opportunities for Jewish women. In the past 9 years, the organization has invested $1.6 million in 53 partner organizations that impactfully champion gender equality, leadership development, violence prevention, economic empowerment, and education. No other organization is as exclusively and passionately dedicated to the advancement of Jewish women and girls in Atlanta and around the world.

Click here to view the full list of our 2021 grantee partners.