The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence has a dual mission – to provide support for medical research/education and to provide support for the Jewish community.
With a board committee to vet requests, JHFE has been providing grants for the Jewish community since the fund was established, and it has recently begun considering medical research opportunities. Now, led by Executive Director Jeff Polson and Board Chair Louis Waterman, JHFE is developing a strategic plan that will clarify and clearly articulate its vision and lay out guidelines that the fund can implement to achieve that vision.“The purpose of what we’re trying to do,” Waterman said, “is to answer the questions:
- “What does it mean to be a major grant-making organization today?
- “What does the future hold for these types of organizations?
- “How can we best utilize our resources to have a sustained and significant impact on our community – both the medical research community and the Jewish community?
- “And how can we help strengthen the organizations we work with through our grant making?
“That’s really what the strategic planning process is about,” he continued. Waterman is pushing hard to have an inclusive process that includes both quantitative and qualitative input to help identify core values and establish priorities, and to complete the process in just a few months.
“We’re talking to a broad cross-section of the community,” added Polson, “reaching out to community leaders in the Jewish community – rabbis and leaders of the Jewish agencies and community members at-large – and people associated with medical research, including our partner agencies – KentuckyOne Health, Passport, the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute and the University of Louisville.”
JHFE is looking for responses from a wide cross-section of the community, and will be conducting the research through a combination of surveys, interviews and face-to-face conversations “This is something the board has been looking forward to,” Polson said. “This is a very important piece of what our organization is about, and the results will help guide us for years to come.
The grants program began in February 2010, when Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services launched the Louisville Jewish Community Excellence Grants initiative as part of its historic support of the hospital’s founding community. The program was created as a permanent funding source to provide assistance to charitable organizations offering programs focused on Jewish culture/identity, health, human services and education.
In 2012, more than $350,000 in excellence grants funding was provided to the local Jewish community, and since its establishment, Excellence Grants have enabled organizations such as the Jewish Community of Louisville, Jewish Family & Career Services; the High School of Jewish Studies; the Jewish Community Center, Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad (the Louisville Hebrew School) and Congregations Adath Jeshurun, Anshei Sfard and Keneseth Israel, The Temple and Temple Shalom to pursue and sponsor innovative new programs that have enriched our entire community.
With the 2012 merger between Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and the Saint Joseph Health System to form KentuckyOne Health, JHHS was renamed the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. Approximately $70 million, retained from the merger, was added to its resources and the fund’s mission was expanded to support initiatives to improve and enhance health care, fund medical research and promote educational initiatives as well as local Jewish community programs and senior services.