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Shelley Rood

AJFCA Washington Director

                           Tuesday, January 10, 2012 

December 2011 Employment Situation In Support of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)


Last week the Department of Labor reported job growth of 200,000 for December 2011. While this represents a positive direction, the number of unemployed remains at 13.1 million (8.5%), which is 6 million fewer employed than at the start of the recession in December 2007. The job market has a long way to go to reach full recovery.


Absent from the official unemployment figures are the numbers of people who cannot find full-time work (8.1 million) or who stopped looking for work (2.5 million). When including those groups, the broader "underemployment" rate was much higher: 15.2 percent. This fuller picture should be included when weighing public policy decisions pertaining to poverty, hunger, homelessness and other economic impacts facing the unemployed, underemployed, and their dependents.


Most notable, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed. These individuals are particularly at risk of economic hardships.


(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm )

Washington Grants Bulletin 


This edition of the Washington Grants Bulletin includes opportunities for programs addressing employment, low-income families, senior transportation, employment for people with disabilities, and therapy for children with disabilities. Please let Shelley know if you intend to apply for any of these grants.

Government Funding

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Program: Workforce Innovation Fund

Deadline: March 22, 2012

Funding: $98.5 million for 20 to 30 awards ranging from $1 million to $12 million each

Eligibility: State and local workforce agencies

Description: The Workforce Innocation Fund (WIF) is a new federal grant program that will fund projects seeking to use evidence to design and deliver employment and training services that generate long-term improvements in the performance of the public workforce system, both in terms of outcomes for jobseeker and employer customers, and in cost-effectiveness. Grants made under the WIF will provide funds to:

  • Retool service delivery strategies and/or policy and administrative systems and processes to improve outcomes for workforce system customers; and
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of such activities.

The Fund will invest in strategies that:

  • Deliver services more efficiently and achieve better outcomes, particularly for vulnerable populations (e.g. low-wage and less-skilled workers) and dislocated workers, especially those who have been unemployed for many months;
  • Support both system reforms and innovations that facilitate cooperation across programs and funding streams in the delivery of client-centered services to jobseekers, youth and employers;
  • Ensure that education, employment and training services are developed in partnership with specific employers or industry sectors and reflect current and future skill needs; and
  • Emphasize building knowledge about effective practices through rigorous evaluation and translating "lessons learned" into improved labor market outcomes, the ability to bring such practices to scale in other geographic locations and increase cost-efficiency in the broader workforce system.

Click here for grant guidance  


Contact Information:  Donna Kelly, (202) 693-3934

May be of interest to Jewish Vocational Service Agencies


National Endowment for the Arts 

Program: The Big Read

Deadline: February 1, 2012

Funding: Organizations may apply for grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000. The suggested grant range for applicants from a small community with fewer than 50,000 residents is $2,500-$7,500; the suggested grant range for applicants from larger cities and towns is $7,500-$20,000. In addition, applicants demonstrating innovative and detailed plans to host more than the minimum required activities should consider requesting grants at the upper end of the grant range. Grants must be matched at least one to one with nonfederal funds.

Eligibility: 501(c)(3) nonprofits; divisions of state, local or tribal government; or tax-exempt public libraries. Applicant organizations must partner with a library if they themselves are not libraries. Applicants must also select one of 31 pre-approved reading choices.

Description: The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big Read Program provides support for organizations across the country to develop community-wide reading programs that include innovative, diverse activities such as author readings, book discussions, art exhibits, lectures, film series, music or dance events, theatrical performances, panel discussions and other events and activities related to their chosen book or poet that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences and lapsed or reluctant readers.

Organizations selected to participate receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement.


 Click here for grant guidance  


Contact Information:  Arts Midwest Program Staff, (612) 238-8010

May be of interest to Jewish Community Centers and Jewish libraries


Institute of Museum and Library Services

Program: Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums

Deadline: February 1, 2012 (Projects must begin August 1, September 1 or October 1, 2012)

Funding: Grant awards range from $10,000 to $25,000

Eligibility: Units of state or local government or private nonprofit organizations that have tax-exempt status and are located in the U.S.

Library applicants must qualify as one of the following: a library or a parent organization that is responsible for the administration of a library; an academic or administrative unit; a digital library, if it makes library materials publicly available and provides library services; a library agency that is an official agency of a state or other unit of government; a library consortium or a library association that exists on a permanent basis.

Museum applicants must qualify as one of the following: a museum that, using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes; an organization or association that engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of museums; an institution of higher education or a public or private nonprofit agency which is responsible for the operation of a museum.

Description: The Sparks Grants are a special funding opportunity within the IMLS National Leadership Grants program that encourage libraries, museums and archives to test and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they provide. Sparks Grants support the deployment, testing and evaluation of promising and groundbreaking new tools, products, services or organizational practices. Applicants may propose activities or approaches that involve risk, as long as the risk is balanced by significant potential for improvement.

Successful proposals will address problems, challenges or needs of broad relevance to libraries, museums and/or archives. A proposed project should test and evaluate a specific, innovative response to the identified problem and present a plan to make the findings widely and openly accessible.

To maximize the public benefit from federal investments in these grants, the Sparks Grants will fund only projects with the following characteristics:

  • Broad Potential Impact: Applicants should identify a specific problem or need that is relevant to many libraries, archives and/or museums, and propose a testable and measurable solution. Proposals must demonstrate a thorough understanding of current issues and practices in the project's focus area and discuss its potential impact within libraries, archives and/or museums. Proposed innovations should be widely adoptable or adaptable.
  • Significant Innovation: The proposed solution to the identified problem must offer strong potential for non-incremental, significant advancement in the operation of libraries, archives and/or museums. Applicants must explain how the proposed activity differs from current practices or exploits an unexplored opportunity, and the potential benefit to be gained by this innovation.

Additionally, grant recipients will be required at the end of the project to submit a five- to 10-page white paper that IMLS will disseminate widely. This paper will describe the identified problem or need, explain original project goals, describe the innovation that was tested and how it was evaluated and report the findings and lessons learned through the activity, including a summary of the tested innovation's suitability and potential for adoption in other organizations, communities or fields of practice.



Contact Information: 

Anthony Donovan Smith, Senior Library Program Officer, (202) 653-4768

Charles "Chuck" Thomas, Senior Library Program Officer, (202) 653-4663

 Helen Wechsler, Senior Museum Program Officer, (202) 653-4779

Tim Carrigan, Museum Program Specialist, (202) 653-4639

Traci Rucker, Library Program Specialist, (202) 653-4689

May be of interest to Jewish libraries and museums


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

Program: Assets for Independence Demonstration Program

Deadlines: January 25, 2012; March 26, 2012 or May 25, 2012

Funding: 50 awards granted; five-year project period; $350,000 average projected award amount per project period

Eligibility: Nonprofit providers, including community organizations

Description: The Department of Health and Human Services Assets for Independence Demonstration Program provides support for community-based organizations to offer Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts), financial education and related services to low-income individuals and families, in order for them to accumulate savings and invest in appreciating assets such as a first home, small business, or higher education or training. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate close collaboration with entities that are serving families with young children, families in the child support system, children and families in the foster care system, people with disabilities, refugees, Native Americans and survivors of domestic or intimate violence.

Click here for grant guidance


Contact Information:   

Program Office, James Gatz, (866) 778-6037

Office of Grants Management, Katrina Morgan, (800) 281-9519

May be of interest to Jewish Family Service Agencies

Foundation Funding

Beverly Foundation 

Program: Senior Transportation STAR Awards Program

Deadline: January 29, 2012

Funding: Up to 18 awards of $10,000 each

Eligibility: Organizations that deliver transportation to senior passengers; have been in operation for at least three years; know how to report transportation data (such as driven miles, cost per ride, number of senior passengers, etc.) and demonstrate an ability to identify good practices in delivering transportation services to senior passengers. Previous STAR Award applicants (including STAR Award winners) will be eligible for a cash award. For-profit transportation services will be eligible for a non-cash award.

Description: STAR Awards winners are identified from STAR Search electronic survey submissions by Supplemental Transportation Programs for seniors. The 2012 survey will appear on the Beverly Foundation's website  beginning on January 15, 2012. The survey includes 30 questions related to the applicant's transportation service and its method of delivering transportation to older adults. Applicants will need to respond to all 30 questions. Programs that mobilize or plan to mobilize volunteer drivers will be looked upon favorably.

Click here for more information about STAR Awards and past recipients
. Past grantees include several Jewish Family Service Agencies.


Contact Information:  Helen Kerschner, Ph.D., (505) 222-0620      

May be of interest to Jewish Federations and Jewish Family Service Agencies


Kessler Foundation 

Program: Signature Employment Grants

Deadline: February 3, 2012

Funding: Organizations may apply for up to two years of funding. Yearly funding ranges from $100,000 - $250,000, with maximum project funding at $500,000

Eligibility: Nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt according to the Internal Revenue Code, including U.S.-based nonprofit organizations, public/private schools and public institutions, such as universities and government

Description: Kessler Foundation awards Signature Employment Grants to fund new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects or social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities. Preference is given for interventions that overcome specific employment barriers related to long-term dependence on public assistance, advance competitive employment in a cost-effective manner or launch a social enterprise or individual entrepreneurship project. Signature grants are not intended to fund project expansions or bring proven projects to new communities, unless there is a significant scale, scope or replicable component. Innovation lies at the core of all signature employment grants.

Since affiliation with rehabilitative medicine is a significant part of Kessler Foundation's history, a priority is placed on serving individuals with mobility disabilities, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, epilepsy or other related impairments. They require that 65 percent of the target grant population meet these criteria.


Click here to view grant guidelines and past recipients. Past grantees include several Jewish Family and Vocational Service Agencies.


Contact Information:  Kessler Foundation 

May be of interest to Jewish Vocational Service Agencies and Jewish Family Service Agencies


Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation

Program: Music Matters Grant Program

Deadline: February 17, 2012

Funding: Up to $6,000 for each grant

Eligibility: Nonprofit/501(c)(3) programs directly funding music education, serving students regardless of their ability to pay, or public or charter school programs serving a minimum of 50 percent low-income students (defined by students receiving free and reduced lunch). In addition, schools and programs must already have an existing music program/curriculum in place and either vocal or instrumental education must be a key component of the music program.

Description: The Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation's mission is to support music education so that through music education, children can better achieve their full potential and stimulate personal and educational growth.

Priority will be given to the following music education programs:

  • programs having the basic need for music instruments and educational materials;
  • programs serving economically disadvantaged children;
  • programs exhibiting innovation in music education;
  • programs requesting funding to support sustainable projects (impact felt for years to come and benefiting a higher number of students);
  • programs where music education is the primary mission of the nonprofit organization; and/or
  • programs having established collaborative partnerships with parent-teacher-student associations (PTSA) and other community groups

Click here for grant guidelines and application 


Contact Information:  Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation 

May be of interest to Jewish Community Centers


CVS Caremark 

Program: Community Grant Program

Deadline: October 31, 2012

Funding: Grants of up to $5,000 are available

Eligibility: Nonprofit organizations

Description: The CVS Caremark Community Grant Program awards grants to support children under age 21 with disabilities that address any of the following:

  • Health and Rehabilitation Services - including physical and occupational therapies, speech and hearing therapies, assistive technology and recreational therapies; and
  • Enabling and Encouraging Physical Movement and Play - proposed programs may include either physical activities or play opportunities for children and should address the specific needs of the population served.

In addition, grants are provided to programs that create greater access to healthcare services for uninsured and underinsured community residents of all ages, including:

  • Ensuring that more uninsured people receive needed care;
  • That the care received is of higher quality; and
  • That the uninsured are served by providers who participate in accountable community health care programs

May be of interest to Jewish Family Service Agencies