MILWAUKEE — A fundraising campaign initiated during this coronavirus era, “The Fund for Jewish MKE,” is already more than halfway to its $3 million goal.
The fund exists as a centralized source of support for the entire local Jewish community, according to Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The Federation manages the fund and is fundraising for it. The more than $1.5 million raised since the fund was established in April is benefiting more than 30 local Jewish institutions from across the wide spectrum of Jewish life.
“It is in these times that collective response is most effective and our community is responding,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “This is all of us. Our agencies, our synagogues and all the individuals and families that make up Jewish Milwaukee.”
Donations to the fund are being used to care for elders, feed the hungry and educate children remotely, among other needs. About half of the funds have been earmarked by donors for specific projects.
Funded programs have included $51,500 donated to three Jewish schools to purchase Chromebooks for distance learning; $50,000 contributed to the Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association to provide interest-free loans to Jewish communal professionals; $45,000 donated to the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center for virtual and in-home programming; and $25,000 donated to Jewish Family Services to deliver 1,200 bags of groceries to 400 seniors, adults with disabilities and low-income families.
The support, however, is not limited to specific needs.
“Our assessment showed needs for operational support of Jewish organizations,” said Stephanie Wagner, chief impact officer for Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “This is often far more effective than giving grants for specific projects.”
The Federation also invested $31,000 in the services of a tax consultant who helped local Jewish organizations secure more than $10 million in Small Business Administration funding.
The Federation has put another consultant to work with agencies in the Milwaukee area on scenario planning and financial stress tests, Wagner said. “We’re helping our local organizations plan ahead in hopes of avoiding the rockiest waters,” she said.
“We know there are urgent needs that must be responded to immediately. Still, our eyes are never off the big prize: a strong, vibrant Jewish Milwaukee community now and in the future,” Rosenzweig said.