Part I: Community Through a Wide-Angle Lens

You may have seen the recent headline: Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ Allocates $19.6 Million From Dollars Raised Through the UJA Annual Campaign, along with the accompanying description of how this money, donated by our generous community, was distributed.

You probably know that Federation allocates dollars to community agencies and partners, but you may not realize that Federation itself also provides services, locally, in Israel, and overseas. In fact, an entire Federation arm, Programs and Services, is comprised of departments whose sole focus is to strengthen our community in ways that no single agency can do on its own. Atypical from traditional grantmaking, Federation takes a wide-angle lens in its approach to funding and to doing.

We have an obligation to make our Jewish community ever stronger, through our dollars and through our actions. “Tackling problems…requires a systems approach. The work of systems change involves seeing systemically—looking at the elements, interconnections, and wider purposes of systems—and acting systemically” (Saltmarsh, 2018). Federation is uniquely positioned to lead the charge on tackling problems using the systems approach.

Through the creation of a Strategic Priorities Council and Impact Assessment & Learning Department, Federation can make informed and intentional funding decisions. Over the past two years, we have gathered data from our local agencies in key funding impact areas: seniors, individuals with disabilities and their families, Jewish education, outreach & engagement, and safety net services. By looking collectively at impact areas, we are better able to understand the strengths of our services, the challenges and costs, and the opportunities to make the greatest impact.

For example, our Federation department Greater MetroWest CARES creates a network among 11 Federation partners serving older adults. By convening Federation partners that serve older adults, CARES bolsters relationships and helps coordinate the senior services offered in our community. Additionally, CARES offers educational events pertaining to issues of interest to the Federation partners serving seniors. Likewise, Federation’s Greater MetroWest ABLE supports the development of meaningful participation opportunities in all aspects of Jewish communal life for individuals with disabilities and their families, promotes the collaboration of local agencies engaging in this space, and raises awareness of resources and services for individuals with disabilities and their families.

In addition, Federation provides specific services that can benefit our entire community. These services are shared with and deployed to community agencies, providing cross community coordination, and economic efficiencies; each agency does not need to hire its own expert and we do not duplicate resources.

• Our Community Relations Committee mobilizes our community around issues of importance and advocates on behalf of our agencies.

• Our Department of Impact Assessment & Learning supports agencies in incorporating evaluation into their programming and using these learnings to strengthen their programs, make pressing decisions, and raise more money.

• Our Security Initiative works to improve the level of safety, security and preparedness throughout the GMW community. This department helps our agencies recognize the need for security planning and builds their capacity to prepare for an emergency.

• Additional Federation Programs and Services include the Center for Volunteerism, Global Connections (which includes Rishonim, Diller Teen Fellows, and Living Bridges programs), the Gottesman Newark Initiative, Greater MetroWest Day School Initiative, Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, Jewish Camp Enterprise, Joint Chaplaincy Committee of Greater MetroWest, PJ Library and Family Programming, Synagogue Leadership Seminars, and Teen Initiatives.

In the coming weeks, we will present four examples of Federation taking action. Through these stories, you will learn more about our wide-angle lens approach and Federation’s unique role in making our community stronger, more inclusive, and more vibrant.