Grant Announcements – Final Quarter 2016

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Dara Steinberg, Executive Director


As we enter the final months of 2016, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah is pleased to share several grants that will commence this year:


Amplifier – $51,000 (split between 2016/17) to deploy Jewish educators more extensively across all of Amplifier’s programmatic areas including their new Giving Circle Institute in 2017.  This builds on previously granted funding that developed tools for the giving circle leaders and integrated Jewish wisdom into their Incubator.


Foundation for Jewish Camp – $100,000 over 2 years to create and disseminate experiential Jewish education resources and content to their camps.  FJC has ideas for several new, innovative programs that will make Jewish wisdom relevant and accessible to campers and is excited to pilot these resources and develop additional new ideas that can be utilized across their extensive network. Continue reading

Bible Raps: A Case Study of Virtual Learning – Scaling learning, Scaling Impact

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By Dara Steinberg, Executive Director


The world of virtual education is still very new for the Jewish community, but it has proven its potential elsewhere in the broader education world to create impactful, creative learning environments. Virtual tools can enable an excellent educator to get into more classrooms with great efficiency – which has some tremendous implications for the many Jewish communities in the US and around the world. By expanding access to great teachers, to unique teachers, organizations can add needed variety to their classes’ curricula, it opens non-traditional methods of Torah learning to audiences that might not otherwise have access, and allows a talented small organization to scale its impact. Continue reading

Sector Grants: An Experiment

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by Dara Steinberg, Executive Director



If we were taking the Nonprofit SATs the analogy might be: “Leverage is to Funders, as Sustainability is to Nonprofits.”  To be flip, it’s the buzzword each constituency wants most.  In seriousness, it’s a prompt to take a thoughtful look at “How can we be better and more effective using our resources?”

As a small-to-mid-sized foundation, we are constantly thinking about how we can make all of our work – grants, programming, thought leadership, and communications – more effective and have stronger and wider impact. A recent planning grant to the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is exciting, not only because of the grant’s own merits, but because it is our first experiment in what we’ve been referring to as “sector grants.” Continue reading

What Yovel Means To Us

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by Dara Steinberg, Executive Director


Milestones are a moment to reflect back, examine the present, and look ahead. 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Lippman Kanfer Family Philanthropies. In 1966, Jerry Lippman founded the Jerome Lippman Family Foundation. He had turned his tenth grade education and the special soap he developed to safely remove carbon black from rubber plant workers’ hands into a business, GOJO, with his wife Goldie, who had a keen head for numbers.  Creating the foundation in 1966 provided a framework for the tzedakah that was already a part of their lives and created a formal way to continue to do it together, first with their nephew Joe Kanfer, and eventually with Joe’s children as well.

Jerry and Goldie, who began a philanthropic journey 50 years and multiple generations ago.

Jerry and Goldie, who began a philanthropic journey 50 years and multiple generations ago.

The Jerome Lippman Family Foundation became, over the years, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah – two modern entities that still have their roots in the family and efforts begun by Jerry and Goldie. Continue reading

Learnings from 2015 – A Candid Look at What Could Have Gone Better

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This time of year we reflect on life’s big questions.

Is the Maccabeat’s latest Chanukah video better than last years? Is Adam Sandler’s fourth remix of the Chanukah song worthy of the airtime? Where are the new videos by women? (As if by magic, as I was writing this, Jewniverse deposited an answer in my email — a viral Hannukah video “There’s Pot in the Latkes” by MC Flow – Note: the video is not appropriate for children and the foundation doesn’t endorse activities which may be illegal depending on the state in which you reside).

Hey, stop watching those videos and read the rest of this blog post. I’m going to get to the real content now. Continue reading

Thoughts from the GEO Conference

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It’s not everyday one attends a conference that features a soundtrack with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

As an old movie buff* I got a kick out of the fact that that the plenary facilitator used this song about Teamwork to bring us back together from our small working groups during the recent Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Collaboration Conference.

(*I hesitate to use the word aficionado, since Thanksgiving with my family always consists of at least one conversation involving “What do you mean you’ve never seen <insert name of classic western, film noir, musical etc.> Is that possible?”)

It’s not just a catchy tune, – it’s good advice on a challenge many of us face.

Rest assured that if you’re struggling with collaboration, you aren’t alone. One of the biggest take-aways from the conference is that collaboration takes constant work and stewardship – even for long standing collaborations, even for projects you’ve been doing a long time.   Sometimes collaborations alternate between humming along fantastically and being efforts that require careful cultivation and a great deal of energy.   So why put in so much effort?  Everyone concurred that, when successful, collaborations yield better results and more far-reaching impact than solo efforts.

There were several interesting specific stories shared at the conference about improving collaborations, but at the highest level it comes down to:

  • Trust – you need to build trust in the group and that takes…
  • Patience – it takes time to build trust, time to get everyone on the same page and to do that you need…
  • Communication – to make sure you’re truly aligned and you then need…
  • Flexibility – because what you may learn your partners need is not what you went into the process thinking it would look like; so many people sharing case studies said “this looks nothing like I thought it would” or “this looks nothing like it did when we started” but where it went (and how it continued to evolve) was key to progressing towards a shared goal.

Sounds just like your average grant, yes? Many of these things are countercultural in our desire for a move-fast, drive-for-results nonprofit culture.  Learning how to cultivate these four traits so that we can achieve more, together, takes awareness and support from colleagues.

Support came partly in the form of funders and nonprofits participating in either funder collaboratives or funder/nonprofit collaboratives sharing their stories as case studies. One of the breakout sessions, featured as Josh Miller of Jim Joseph Foundation and Lisa Farber Miller of Rose Community Foundation presenting on the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative. (You can view a case study of the Collaboration here; Josh and Lisa also shared additional insights post-case study and thoughts on what’s next as the collaboration evolves.) It was a thrill to have our community share a very sophisticated effort to make change as a model for the wider nonprofit community.

In addition, the conference featured a substantial presence from the Jewish community with one or more staff attending from: Jim Joseph Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Emmanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, Jewish Funders Network, The Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. The opportunity to have colleagues approaching collaboration with thoughtfulness and reflection is a wonderful sign of where our community is going.

Overall, the conference was incredibly well put together – in just a little over a day and a half the organizers packed in a variety of sessions and “home teams” – a small group of folks who shared learnings from the conference, stories about personal collaboration successes and challenges, and a commitment to accountability – partners within the team were asked to commit to specific actions and to be back in touch in January 2016 to discuss progress.

You can view GEO’s new publication “Building Collaboration from the Inside Out”

I strongly encourage fellow funders to check out GEO’s resources, and while nonprofit organizations are not eligible for GEO membership, GEO’s online resources can be valuable for understanding what kind of support you need from your funders, how to build better relationships with funders and partners, and provide an expert reference point when collaborating with funders in order to help guide us all towards collaborative relationships and structures that are more robust, fulfilling, and productive.

Lessons from a Reviewer’s Chair

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It’s that time of year again – the time of year I think of as “Slingshot Season.” For me and for nearly 100 colleagues who are Slingshot evaluators, the applications have landed in our inboxes and we are diving into the work of reviewing. Each year, I’m momentarily overwhelmed (why did I think it was a good idea to take on an additional day of reading and analysis!) but that feeling quickly dissipates once I begin. Like many other foundation professionals, I occasionally read applications for fellowships and other forms of recognition. It is a special opportunity.

Here are 8 thoughts that come out of that process: 4 reminders for my reviewing colleagues and 4 bits of advice and encouragement for the applicants. Continue reading

Nachshon – On Embracing Risk as An Institutional Value

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Before they hired their first staff member, the board of Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation defined their core values, which were later adopted by Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah.

One of those values is:

נחשון “NACHSHON” (First into the water): Drive Forward

We embrace new insights, big ideas, and fresh initiatives with an action orientation, learning as  we go. We are willing to rise to the occasion when others cannot, do not, or will not.

The story of Nachshon is a midrash you may have shared at your seder this year – at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army closing in, Moses stood with his arms outstretched – but the sea was unmoved until one man, Nachshon, plunged in. Continue reading

When, how, why to ask – our theory of questions

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This post was inspired by reflections on Mamie Kanfer Stewart’s ELI Talk.

As children we were taught “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Today, thanks to the story of Nobel Laureate Isidor I. Rabi, many parents are now inspired by his mother’s example and, in an effort to foster children who are creative and critical thinkers ask “Did you ask a good question today?” instead of “What did you do today?”

did you ask a good question

But we can also go too far, making a fetish out of asking questions, even and especially the good ones. Continue reading


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Have you ever picked up a small pitcher of milk for your coffee only to have half of the contents dribble down the side and pool onto the counter?  Often, design is something we don’t think about unless it is really bad or really good.  And yet, there is a remarkable and nuanced history behind the shape and construction of almost everything we touch, a story behind the design of each object – even the container holding your milk. Once, I thought design meant the funky looking chairs that I couldn’t afford from Soho furniture shops.  Then my cousin, a textile designer, explained design to me in very different terms.  Continue reading