Giving Initiative for Teens Request for Proposal

The Giving Initiative For Teens (GIFT) is a teen-led foundation board that engages Jewish high school students in philanthropy, community needs, and Jewish values around giving. At the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, GIFT boards will allocate funds for micro-grants in the community. For the academic year, there are two GIFT boards with each board focusing on a different funding priority. Throughout the year, the GIFT board members have used consensus in their respective boards to come together on Jewish values that will guide their work, their funding priorities, and, ultimately, where the grants will be distributed.

The GIFT Boards have selected the following missions to support in 2019:

  • Domestic Violence: Guided by the Jewish values of compassion and not standing idly by, the Giving Initiative For Teens is committed to funding programs in Puget Sound Region that support and protect domestic violence victims and educate the community on domestic violence prevention.
  • Mental Health Issues: Through the guidance of the Jewish values of compassion and not standing idly by, the Giving Initiative For Teens will support organizations improving the lives of those affected by mental health issues in the Puget Sound Region.


Application Criteria

  • Must complete and submit the grant application by Monday, January 28, 2019, at 12:00 PST
  • Must be a non-profit organization with a 501 (c)(3) status
  • Must support people in the Puget Sound Region
  • Must directly address one of two funding priorities
    1. Provide services for victims of domestic violence and/or domestic violence prevention education
    2. Provide services for mental health illnesses and issues
  • Grants requests up to $4,000 will be considered
  • Include projected budget for the program. You may use the template provided or attach your own.
  • Awardees will be expected to complete a report following the execution of the project.


Application Review Process

  • All applications must be emailed to Jessica Ost, Program Manager, by Monday, January 28, 2019 at 12:00 PST, at
  • Non-profit organizations that GIFT chooses to move forward to site visits/having a representative meet with GIFT teens will be contacted the week of February 11, 2019
  • Site visits will take place the following dates and times:
    • Domestic Violence: March 4-8, 4:30 pm
    • Mental Health: March 11-15, 4:30 pm
  • If your organization is chosen for a site visit/meeting, Jessica Ost will contact you the week of February 11 to organize a date and time during that week.
  • If your organization’s location is confidential and visitors may not come to the location, representatives must be available come to the GIFT board meeting on Sunday, March 3.
  • Recipients must be available to receive check at Grant Ceremony on Wednesday, May 22 from 7-9 pm at the Stroum Jewish Community Center.
  • All applicants will be informed of their status by April 5.


View RFP

Budget Worksheet

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Comprehensive Plan Amendment Moving Forward

On November 20, 2018, the Mercer Island City Council approved a set of Comprehensive Plan Amendments, including Amendment #8, creating a new land use designation, “Community Facilities,” for the City of Mercer Island. This event marks the first step in a process to rezone the Stroum Jewish Community Center’s property. The SJCC is pursuing this as it presents an opportunity to create design and building regulations that align with current and expected facility uses in concert with community interests. Now the detailed work starts.

In the coming months, the city, neighbors and our organizations (the French American School of Puget Sound, Herzl-Ner Tamid, and the SJCC) will collaborate to capture stakeholder interests that the city will use to draft building regulations. The first public meeting for this phase of the process will be this Thursday, December 13 at 6 pm at the Community Center at Mercer View.

As part of this process, the City will also be posting public notice signs on the property, marking the beginning of the code amendment and rezone process. Notices were also recently mailed to neighbors within a designated radius of these properties.

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How To Register for Classes in EZFacility

Follow these instructions for registering for classes in the J’s new online registration system.

Enrichment Classes
Includes preschool and after school enrichment; Watts Basketball Academy

  1. Click the Register link
  2. You’ll be prompted to log in to your account in the Self-Service portal. If this is your first time visiting, you need to create an account. Please use the email address we have on file at the SJCC.
  3. Please note: you can register anyone connected to your account. You can see who is listed on your account by clicking on your name on the sidebar and the clicking Relationships. Add any children who aren’t yet listed before you try and register.
  4. Click Registrations on the sidebar and then Register
  5. Select the class participant
  6. Click on the arrow by Sport and select Enrichment from the drop-down menu
  7. Find the class you are looking for and click Select
  8. Follow the prompts through the registration and Buy or Add to Cart (if you want to register for more than one child or more than one class)


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A Day in Squirrel Hill

By CEO Amy Lavin

Nothing prepares you for a memorial like the one outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, PA. Eleven Mogen Davids piled waist-high with flowers, notes and marked with names…names of the victims. We’ve read them, displayed them and seen them in pictures online and on TV. Standing there in the shadow of a building reading “Tree of Life” is surreal. 

Then we entered the synagogue; walking into one of the chapels where the shootings actually occurred. Benches have been removed, carpet cut away and caution tape remains. The image takes your mind to awful places. And then there are the bullet holes in the podium, the stairs to the ark and the ark itself.

This past Tuesday I spent the day with JCC colleagues and Jewish Federation professionals from around the US, internalizing the effects of the Tree of Life massacre on October 27, 2018. I wanted to share my experience, mostly to ‘bring it home’ to those of us so far away.

As I drove into Squirrel Hill, a huge banner appeared at a major intersection. We all know the symbol now, and it was powerful to see it and others like it displayed city-wide. I made my way to the JCC in Squirrel Hill, which is without question, a central gathering spot of the Jewish and broader community alike. I was reticent to enter a room full of people mourning a tragedy, yet committed to do our best to avoid anything like it in the future…or at least, be better prepared to respond.

With detailed briefings from the FBI and JCC staff, community lay-leaders and more, we got a quick, grim picture of the emergency, intensity and scale of an event like this. We talked about what it meant to jump into action to protect, respond, care for, and guide individuals and a community through the event and immediate aftermath. The presentations in the JCC’s multi-purpose room were the easy part. Then we boarded the buses.

In a 15-minute bus tour, we gained a quick understanding of the density, vibrancy, and pride in Jewish life in Squirrel Hill. Jewish influence is evident in the number of temples/synagogues, restaurants, people walking around in kippot and a large, busy JCC. I’m not sure we have anything quick like it here in the Puget Sound.

The buses circled the tight-knit neighborhood only to drop us at the Tree of Life. With overwhelming emotion, we heard from the Community Director of Security, a rabbi, who has served in ZAKA (Israeli volunteer emergency response teams), and Rabbi Myers, whose heroic acts saved lives and activated law enforcement. We heard briefly of the horrors Rabbi Myers witnessed and his conviction to carry the congregation and community forward…though for Squirrel Hill, no one yet knows just how. A brief service and shared Mourner’s Kaddish was healing and gut wrenching at the same time.

Buses returned us to the JCC, where we heard from leaders of the Jewish Community Center Association, Jewish Federations of North America, and Jewish Family Service, and then we toured the local JCC to understand how a ‘host site’ absorbs an operation of this magnitude. Every step along the way, we met staff members and community lay leaders who individually and collectively managed through October 27 and continue to do so today. A drop-in counseling center remains.

Throughout the day, a couple strong themes emerged. First, relationships are vital to preparation and response. Relationships make swift, effective action possible. Second, training and preparation assist in maintaining clarity of mind and judgement when we are called to action under unimaginable conditions. Third, the complexity of coping with personal trauma and professional responsibility is trying. Staff members worked tirelessly to maintain community services as they personally coped with losing loved ones and friends, and facing hatred in the most despicable form. Finally, the resolve of the Pittsburgh team and community is noteworthy.

Each person who spoke with us lived in Squirrel Hill. Staff and lay-leaders shared the town’s history, relayed the facts, and shared their personal story of what happened to them on October 27. I couldn’t help but imagine these people as any one of us, moving through our usual Saturday routines, until something shakes us into a new reality. While the fragility of life became a pervasive theme, so did resilience and the power of a community to assemble and start the healing process.

The healing is powered by each individual and by overwhelming community support from near and far. Flowers and notes at the Tree of Life reflected the outpouring of love, as did the posters and signs lining the auditorium where we met. I was proud to add our SJCC trees to the collection. 

This was my first trip to Pittsburgh, and while it was under horrific circumstances, I felt a sense of unity and pride that clearly demonstrates it is a town made of steel.

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