Milwaukee Jewish Federation has assessed community needs for some possibly difficult months to come, and it has identified three core issues: unemployment, food insecurity and mental health.
These are predicted to be the top need categories in the future, in part because people’s unemployment benefits are expected to expire and that impacts all three issues.
For the assessment, 29 local Jewish community organizations told investigating Federation staff what they expect the local Jewish people will need from them as summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter.
Other needs identified include housing, domestic violence, medical expenses, loss of insurance due to unemployment, spiritual needs, loneliness, financial counseling, access to state and county benefits and substance abuse, according to the June 2020 “Updated COVID-19 Assessment Report.” The organizations also reported their need to meet general obligations, to continue to function and serve at a time when COVID-19 has greatly stymied the economy.
“The unemployment issues are too big to completely solve, so we are focusing on strategies that produce the greatest impact,” said Stephanie Wagner, chief impact officer for Milwaukee Jewish Federation. That’s led to a focus on key items like food insecurity, she said.
Thanks to support from donors, the Federation is keeping its usual funding from the Annual Campaign unchanged for local service providers, compared to last year. On top of that, it’s increasing funding for needs identified in the assessment. This is possible because of more than $1.5 million donated through The Fund for Jewish MKE.
Some other nonprofits nationwide, including Federations, have cut back in recent months, but Milwaukee Jewish Federation is building efforts to help, thanks to these local donors. For example, Jewish Family Services has been delivering meals to families, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Milwaukee Jewish Federation, paid for by donors to The Fund for Jewish MKE. More generally, The Fund for Jewish MKE is also supporting Jewish organizations, to help them through rocky times.
“Donors to The Fund for Jewish MKE have not only embraced our sacred Jewish tradition of mutual responsibility for our community but have made a strong statement of the importance of our Jewish institutions in Milwaukee,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, CEO and president of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “Thanks to their kindness, we’re able to meet the needs of Jews who are struggling and the Jewish organizations that serve them. We will emerge from this moment a more united community that is as strong as ever.”