Jewish Federation allocates $8.56 million

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

The Jewish Federation of Greater St. Louis will dole out just over $8.5 million during this year’s allocation process for constituent organizations and efforts overseas.

“I think there is a real excitement about the efforts that are being made in this space in terms of focusing on young families, young people in the community, people who are in need,” said Ruth Raskas, Planning and Allocations Committee chair.

The $8.56 million total represents a minor bump over last year’s $8.49 million. It also represents a continuation of the move towards directing dollars to priorities outlined in the Federation’s strategic plan. Unrestricted allocations to local agencies remained unchanged while strategic program grants increased by 2.6 percent. These areas include caring for Jews in need — both domestically and overseas — as well as community engagement and “ensuring the Jewish future.”

Raskas said the move is an effort to drive the community in the direction of ideas from the Federation’s planning process.

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“While the change is not as significant as when we went through the initial jump from core allocations toward strategic programmatic grants, we are still having a shift toward these grants,” she said. “Our sense is that there is a lot of excitement around these opportunities.”

She said that core unrestricted allocations would remain a part of the Federation pie however.

“Across the country, federations have taken varied approaches to this,” she said. “Some have completely moved over to strategic programmatic grants while others have sat more in the middle but my sense is that there has been more of an overall assessment of Federation allocations across the country to try to figure out how to build each of our communities.”

In fact, unrestricted allocations still make up almost 65 percent of the total. Among program grants, ensuring the Jewish future got the largest share of the pot at $1.1 million. Community engagement saw the smallest amount at under $200,000.

“It is really an imperfect science,” Raskas said. “We have gathered people from across the community at the committee level to really think about the different needs of the community and review each of the grants and think about where we have omissions and gaps and what we can do together to try and fill those. I would encourage people to look at this process and provide their voices as to things they see that are missing.”

She stressed that the Federation is looking to hear from others about what they feel the community needs.

“One thing I would say as we are moving toward this new model is my hope is that there is…a real outreach to the public to say ‘What do you think about this? What could we do that could be improved from what we do now?’”

Exact allocations for particular organizations have not yet been released.