Jewish Journal

Friendship Circle wins $100,000 in Chase challenge


January 26, 2010 | 3:15 pm

A Chabad-initiated project won a $100,000 grant last week when it was named a runner up in the Chase , a highly publicized contest run on Facebook.

The Friendship Circle, a Michigan-based project that helps families with children with special needs, finished fourth last week in the JP Morgan Chase Bank Community Giving Project contest, which offered $5 million in prizes to charities with budgets smaller than $10 million.

The Chabad project received 59,023 votes, but lost out to Invisible Children, a San Diego-based project that helps child refugees of the civil war in Uganda.

Invisible Children edged the Isha Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children in India, for the $1 million he grand prize winner. Invisible Children received 123,990 votes to 122,742 for Isha.

The bank created a platform on which charities could create fan pages and ask for votes. Thousands of charities created pages, and the top 100 vote getters by Dec. 12 were named finalists and awarded $25,000 each. The top finalists competed in a second round of voting.

Though Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization that fights breast cancer, was started in honor of a Jewish woman, and Seeds of Peace works in Israel seeking a solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict, the Friendship Circle was the overtly Jewish project among the contest’s 100 finalists.

Founded in 1994 by Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov in West Bloomfield, Mich., the Friendship Circle now has 65 branches in the United States, Canada, Australia, France and China comprising 4,000 beneficiaries and their families, and more than 8,000 volunteers. At its annual conference in Newark, N.J., last week, Friendship Circle International announced that the program was well on track to have 100 branches operating worldwide by the end of this year.

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