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our community to do. I knew this
would be a winner."
Although the JWF is under
Federation auspices, grants are not
limited to Federation-sponsored
agencies. "Our goal is to complement
Federation, not to compete with it,"
said Halperin. "Most of the general
grant money doesn't go toward gen-
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This year, 30 grant proposals were
received. The evaluation process was
extensive, involving many hours of
discussion and hands-on research by
the JWF trustees, including on-site
visits and lengthy interviews with the
staff of each organization.
"This is truly a working founda-
tion," said Halperin. "Every trustee
has a vote in the final decision."
The trustees evaluate each grant
request based on the quality of the
program, but also on the degree to
which women are involved in the
organization as a whole.
According to Halperin, the founda-
tion turned down one grant request
because the agency had very few
women on staff or on their board of
directors. "The head of the agency
thought that was sexist," said Halperin,
"but we want to fund programs that
benefit women and that also have
women in leadership positions."
Several of the trustees have become
involved in community programs they
evaluated as a result of their participa-
tion in the grant process. Pamela
Wyatt of Birmingham joined the advi-
sory committee of the Single Jewish
Parents Network, which received its
second JWF grant this year.
In turn, some women from the
organizations that have received JWF
grants have chosen to become
involved in the foundation. Edwina
Davis of West Bloomfield, active in
the Michigan Jewish AIDS
Coalition, became a JWF trustee, as
did Janis Wetsman of Birmingham,
past president of the Single Jewish
During its first grant cycle in
2001, a total of $50,000 was award-
ed to seven local programs. This year,
of nine grants — totaling $60,005
— three were given to programs in
"There was a lot of discussion ini-
tially about giving grant money to
Israel," said Halperin, "but we ulti-
mately agreed that it was important
to show our support."
"There is no funding left for any-
thing in Israel except bullets and
vests," said Sternoff. "As the
[Palestinian] violence has increased,
so have the needs for social services."
While conducting telephone inter-
views with the Israeli grant appli-
cants, trustee Dede Feldman of
Bloomfield Hills was so impressed
with a program to help Ethiopian
Jewish women that she decided to
personally fund the project.
"Dede is a 'poster woman' for
Jewish women's philanthropy," said
Sternoff. "She embodies what our
movement is all about."
"Men have their own reasons for
giving," said Halperin, "but women
give because an issue or a program
affects them personally — they really
give from their hearts."
There are two levels of membership:
trustees and transgenerational
trustees. Trustees, which now num- •
ber 95, make a commitment of
$10,000, payable at an annual rate of
$2,000 over a five-year period, after
which time the trusteeship can be
Transgenerational trustees make a
contribution of $100,000, which
entitles the donor, as well as her
daughters and granddaughters, to
serve on the JWF board in perpetu-
ity: There are six trustees in this cate-
The first transgenerational gift was
from Dr. Milton Goldrath of West
Bloomfield, in memory of his wife
Joan, who passed away in 1998.
At the September board meeting,
Mark Kahn of Bloomfield Hills
announced the establishment of a
transgenerational membership in
honor of his late wife, Gayle
Halperin Kahn, who died of cancer
earlier this year. Gayle was also the
daughter of Margot Halperin.
To further its goal of financial edu-
cation, the Metro Detroit JWF has
sponsored public programs featuring
speakers such as Suze Orman, author
of The Courage to be Rich, and Jean
Sherman Chatzky, author and finan-
cial editor for NBC's Today show.
"This is probably the most exciting
project I've ever been part of," said
Halperin. "To know that we can
make a lasting impact, it's extraordi-
For information about the Jewish
Women's Foundation, call Helen
Katz, (248) 203-1483.