Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation Celebrates 10 Years of Philanthropy | Shalom Austin

Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation Celebrates 10 Years of Philanthropy

Jewish Foundation, The Jewish Outlook

Feb 27, 2024

By Allison Teegardin 

This year marks the ten year anniversary of Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation. Formerly named the Jewish Foundation of Austin & Central Texas, the Jewish Foundation became the fourth branch of the Jewish Community Association of Austin, now Shalom Austin, alongside Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Service.

Joel Levine, immediate past chair of the Jewish Foundation committee and one of the 16 founding members, reflected on the past decade and said, “I’m very proud of how the Austin Jewish community and Shalom Austin have embraced the launching and growth of a Foundation. Other communities have foundations established decades ago, yet we’ve reached some incredible milestones in the first 10 years. The greatest accomplishment I believe is our sizable roster of donor-advised fundholders and agency fundholders. It is a growing list and truly shows the reach and impact of the Foundation. Educating the community about philanthropy has always been a top priority, and having all these families and community partners join in the first 10 years is a true testament to the hard work of the past decade.”

The Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation announces its launch in the September 2014 issue of The Jewish Outlook. Pictured BACK (L-R): Dan Herd, ACF Governor, Wade Monroe, JFACT Co-Chair, Steve Shook, ACF Governor, Bill Volk, ACF Chair MIDDLE (L-R): Fran Hamermesh, JFACT Co-Chair, Jim Pendergast, ACF President and CEO FRONT (L-R): Arlene Miller, JCAA Chief Philanthropy Officer, MariBen Ramsey, ACF Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer, General Counsel. Courtesy: Shalom AustinTwo years before launching, a committee of more than 20 people representing a wide range of sectors, from financial to marketing to nonprofit to higher education, was formed to provide guidance. The committee members were led by co-chairs Wade Monroe and Fran Hamermesh who all brought their own areas of expertise and interests to the table. The goal was to develop rules of operation, parameters for a leadership cabinet and a budget. Ultimately, a partnership agreement was formed with the Austin Community Foundation, who still to this day holds and administers contributions made to the Jewish Foundation’s funds.

One year later in 2015, Congregation Beth Israel became the first local congregation to establish a fund with the Jewish Foundation. Thereafter, Congregation Agudas Achim, Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Tiferet Israel all established endowment funds with the Jewish Foundation. Founding committee member, Diane Radin said, “When fundraising for the Dell Jewish Community Campus was first started back in the 1990s, I advocated for the creation of a Jewish Foundation to establish an endowment for our Jewish community. It took a while to happen and now that it has been around for 10 years, I am so pleased that it has been a big success, not just for Shalom Austin but for many synagogues and other Jewish organizations. It can only get bigger and better and more important and integral to the strength and health of our future.”

In 2020, when much of the world was brought to an abrupt halt in the wake of COVID-19, the Jewish Foundation, guided by Jewish values and the individual interests of donors and organizations, displayed how it helps fundholders make a lasting impact through philanthropy in Austin and around the world. Quoted in a March 2021 Jewish Outlook article, Jewish Foundation Fundholder Kim Schocket said, “I saw firsthand the impact COVID-19 was having. Our Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation DAF allowed us to donate swiftly to the COVID Community Response Fund set up by Shalom Austin during the height of the pandemic.”

Now, ten years since the first fund was opened, the Jewish Foundation, which offers endowments, designated funds for specific purposes, and donor advised funds, is poised for another decade of exponential growth. “Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation’s future is bright!” current Jewish Foundation Committee Chair and Shalom Austin Board Member Marcia Silverberg said, “In the 10 years since our founding in 2014, we’ve grown to over $16.8 million with over 160 funds, including many local synagogues, partner Jewish agencies, individuals and families. Foundation funds serve many needs and interests. By 2034, I envision the Foundation will be a critical source of funding, enhancing the quality of life for our entire community. We are, and will increasingly be, a key resource for Jews in the greater Austin area to define and achieve their philanthropic goals for the present and for perpetuity. The beneficiaries of our investments will be Shalom Austin, our community partners, and multiple services within the Jewish and Austin nonprofit communities.”

Timeline of SAJF highlights over the past 10 years.

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