Five grants of $250,000, to be paid over three years, were awarded to the Jewish Artists Initiative, which includes an artist-in-residence exchange between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv; JDub Music for its L.A. expansion; Vista Del Mar's Nes Gadol prep program for special-needs children; the NextGen Engagement Initiative of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, targeting leaders ages 22 to 39; and the Museum of Tolerance's Jewish Student Leadership for a Diverse World, which offers a two-semester course for high school and college students wanting to connect with Latinos.
Another Cutting Edge recipient, awarded $200,000, was 30 Years After: The Iranian-Jewish Community at a Crossroads, a new organization of young professional trying to engage fellow Iranian Americans in politics and civic life. The organization is planning a communitywide conference for its 1,200 members in September.
"The Cutting Edge Grant not only provides the financial support to develop the programs that our volunteers are so passionate about, it also acknowledges the importance of our vision," said Sam Yebri, the group's president. "With The Foundation's backing, 30 Years After will educate Iranian Jews regarding their fundamental responsibilities as Americans and as Jews and empower them to become leading participants in the greater Jewish community."
Additionally, the American Jewish Committee's outreach to Los Angeles-area Latino pastors received $150,000. Last year, Esencia de Judaismo invited 200 evangelical Christians to celebrate Sukkot at Sinai Temple. The event is scheduled again for October.
This year's grant total is slightly higher than last year's $1.5 million, which was divided by 10 organizations, including $250,000, over three years, to both LimmudLA and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for its Jewish Summer Overnight Camp Support Initiative.
"We were very impressed with the quality of this year's applicants for our Cutting Edge Grants, which aim to inspire social entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to explore fresh approaches to societal problems and to enrich our community," said Marvin I. Schotland, the foundation's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "There's very exciting work being conducted in the Jewish nonprofit community, and we applaud these and other efforts."