The Jewish Federation Takes Leading Role

LOS ANGELES – March 31, 2014 The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will be hosting a timely panel discussion on the changing civic and political role of L.A.’s Jewish community at 7:00PM on Thursday, April 3rd, at University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90049. As the political landscape and our city’s demographics evolve – while the Jewish community loses key leaders like Zev Yaroslavsky and Henry Waxman – the evening will seek to answer this question: How will the next generation of Jewish Angelenos continue our community’s legacy of civic engagement?


  • Richard Bloom, California State Assemblymember, 50th District
  • Ana Guerrero, Chief of Staff to Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles

Beyond the panel event, a key way that The Jewish Federation’s Community Engagement Strategic Initiative is taking a leading role in creating change in Los Angeles is through its ChangeMaker Challenge. This groundbreaking contest is awarding tens of thousands of dollars to 13 creative and impactful social action projects that promise to confront some of L.A.’s biggest issues, while building bridges between the Jewish and greater Los Angeles communities. The winners will be present at the event, and formally announced.

The ChangeMaker Challenge received more than 115 submissions from individuals and organizations across Los Angeles, and is awarding a total of $32,000 to the winning projects. The projects receiving funding are designed to involve the Jewish community in tackling issues that affect the greater community; including increasing development around new Metro stations, combating hunger among homeless Angelenos, addressing the shortage of tutors for at-risk students, promoting the need for summer literacy and enrichment opportunities for L.A. youth, and reversing the food injustice and inequality found in our inner-city neighborhoods.

The outpouring of interest in the ChangeMaker Challenge, and the contest’s emphasis on partnerships across different communities, offers a new grassroots model for creating change in Los Angeles, while demonstrating the Jewish community’s commitment to making the world a better place – for Jews and non-Jews alike.

“The ChangeMaker Challenge reflects our Jewish values,” said Jay Sanderson, President & CEO of The Jewish Federation. “From L.A.’s earliest days as a city, Jews have been instrumental in building a thriving Los Angeles that is a place of opportunity for all. The Federation is proud to be supporting these important projects that are helping the entire community.”

The ChangeMaker Challenge was open to any individual, group, or organization in Los Angeles County with an innovative idea on how to make a meaningful impact on our city in the areas of Education, Civic Engagement, Transportation, Economic Development and Hunger.  Applicants were encouraged to show how their projects would strengthen ties between different ethnic, religious, cultural or geographic communities.

The contest attracted a diverse group of applicants from the Jewish, Christian, Latino, Black, and Asian-Pacific-American communities and was overseen by an Advisory Board that included 25 civic and community leaders from each of these groups, and who ultimately chose the winning entries.

“The real work of building a better Los Angeles can only happen when we all work together to fight for economic and social justice. That’s why the ChangeMaker Challenge is having such a positive impact on the city,” said Tunua Thrash, Executive Director of the West Angeles Community Development Corporation and a member of the ChangeMaker Challenge’s Advisory Board. “Changes happen at City Hall, but they also happen in our neighborhoods, at our schools and in our places of worship. They happen at the grassroots level. This is a great example of how the Jewish community can partner with groups and leaders across L.A. to bring about those changes.”

The ChangeMaker Challenge is part of the Federation’s Community Engagement Strategic Initiative, which mobilizes the Jewish community to be civically engaged, promote social justice in Los Angeles, and to educate and advocate on behalf of Israel. The ChangeMaker Challenge was initially conceived as a one-year pilot program, but has already been extended to a second year. Applications for a new round of funding will be accepted starting in the fall of 2014.  More information and a listing of Advisory Board members is available at

2014 ChangeMaker Challenge winners

  • Proyecto Jardin, a project of Community Partners, for a project called “Community Youth Health and Action Leaders (Youth HEAL),” an initiative that empowers youth to fight for food justice and greater nutritional health by teaching them to plan, plant, maintain and harvest community gardens.
  • Freedom School Partners, to expand a successful program that creates a six-week summer literacy and enrichment program for low-income, at-risk students, primarily Latino elementary school students. Instructors are mainly Jewish college and high school students.
  • B’nai David Judea, to expand a program called “Operation PB&J,” which provides meals and survival kits to homeless Angelenos.
  • West Angeles Community Development Corporation, for a project called “Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Best Practices Summit,” which will convene a diverse group of community leaders from low-to-moderate income communities to discuss how these communities can take advantage of new rail lines to attract best-use developments.
  • IKAR, in partnership with LA Voice, for an event that will bring together different faith-based communities from across the city to discuss opportunities for partnership and collaboration.
  • Bridge to a Brighter Future, an organization started by a group of Harvard Westlake students that pairs high-schoolers with elementary and middle school students in different communities and provides tutoring opportunities.
  • Robert Duke, a university professor, for a project called “Fostering Tikkun Summit,” an event that will gather leaders of different faith communities to discuss the needs in LA County’s foster system and determine specific programs that congregations can “adopt.” This event will take place in partnership with University Synagogue.
  • Pico Union Project, for a project that will recruit talent from the Westside Jewish community to work in collaboration with Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (J.U.i.C.E.) to create a 10-minute performance piece for the second annual Downtown Seder.
  • Camp Chesed, to expand its successful Special Needs Sports League for special needs youth of different faiths.
  • Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA, for a project that will use a series of workshops to create a magazine booklet and multimedia content chronicling part of Boyle Height’s history in a way that is accessible to young people living in the neighborhood today.
  • LA Voice, for a race and economic opportunity training for a diverse group of 50 individuals from across Los Angeles.
  • Come Together Youth Conferences, an organization based in Boyle Heights that provides mentorship for at-risk youth in East and South Los Angeles who are currently in continuation schools.
  • Remember Us at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), for a project called L’Dough V’Dough that works with students and Holocaust survivors to ensure the transmission of survivors’ stories to the next generation.


Based on Jewish values, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles convenes and leads the community and leverages its resources to assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad, and mobilize on issues of concern to the local community, all with our local, national, and international partners. For more information, visit