What is the purpose of the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund?

The BYFI alumni community is composed of an exceptional group of young adults. Through their personal and professional pursuits, our alumni exhibit their commitment to the core values of the BYFI program: Jewish learning, pluralism, engagement with Israel and social responsibility. The BYFI Alumni Venture Fund enables the alumni community to support their peers with funding and technical assistance.

Who can apply for funding?

Any member of the BYFI alumni community can apply for an Alumni Venture Fund grant. Eligible projects for funding are those where BYFI alumni are responsible, either wholly or in part, for the project’s success. Projects will be considered if they seek to promote the BYFI mission statement and values of Jewish learning, pluralism, engagement with Israel, social responsibility or a combination of these core values. Any project related to political engagement must be non-partisan.

What types of projects are funded?

Over the past 6 years, the BYFI alumni community has supported over 75 alumni projects through the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund. Projects that meet the funding criteria have included community service programs, support for innovative Jewish communities, conferences, publications and grants to alumni-led not-for-profit organizations for specific programs.

Some past grantees include Kavod House in Boston, a center for social action and creative Jewish study and life; Voices of Rwanda, an organization that films testimonies of the survivors of genocide; the Jerusalem Bayit, a residential project in Jerusalem whose participants engage in Jewish study and community service; and a number of alternative minyanim and study groups in Boston, Denver, New York, Seattle, Toronto and Washington DC.

For more on what types of projects are funded, view our listing of projects we support.

What are the benefits of applying for a BYFI Alumni Venture Fund grant?

For alums leading established organizations and projects, funding from the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund is a great way to access capacity building support from the rest of the BYFI alumni community. BYFI works to promote grantees’ work, assisting with public relations efforts. In fact, many grantees have leveraged their funding from the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund to apply for additional grants from other established foundations. The BYFI Alumni Venture Fund also enables alumni with great ideas and solid plans to initiate and lead small projects with high impact.

Where does the funding come from?

All funds distributed come solely from donations made by BYFI alumni and their families during our annual fundraising campaign.

How much funding should I request?

Historically, over 60% of grants distributed have been for $1000 or less. Since launching the AVF, the largest single grant we have distributed to an organization was $5000.

Who decides what projects are funded?

All BYFI alumni have the opportunity to join the BYFI Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) or serve on an AAB committee. Volunteer members of the Fundraising and Projects Committee review Alumni Venture Fund applications twice yearly and make funding decisions according to a set of criteria. To join the BYFI Alumni Advisory Board or participate on a committee contact the AAB president, Elijah Dornstreich- elijah@byfi.org.

What criteria are used to evaluate the funding proposals?

The members of the alumni Fundraising and Projects Committee base their grant decisions using the following overall criteria:

  • Alignment with BYFI mission – does the project reflect a commitment to one or more of the values articulated in the BYFI mission statement?
  • Impact of project – how will the project make a difference?
  • Innovation – is this project unique?
  • Does it bring new ideas to a wider audience? - What is the level of involvement of BYFI alumni as leaders and participants?

What are the deadlines for grant applications?

Grant deadlines are May 15 and October 15 each year. In 2011, the grant deadlines are May 15 & November 15.

What does the BYFI alumni community hope to achieve by awarding grants through the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund?

The BYFI Alumni Venture Fund is intended to:

  • Provide an opportunity for BYFI alumni to support other alums as leaders.
  • Identify alumni organized and supported projects that perpetuate the 4 four pillars of BYFI’s mission : Jewish learning, pluralism, engagement with Israel, and social responsibility.
  • Link alumni to one another. Alumni can provide capacity building support and best practice experience to enhance the overall impact of each funded project.

What are the terms and conditions of accepting a BYFI Alumni Venture Fund grant?

Please review the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund Information and Terms document before submitting a grant proposal.

Who should I contact with Alumni Venture Fund questions?

Naamah Paley, Senior Program Officer, at naamah@byfi.org.