The Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit (JWF) is a trusted and proud community partner, established by Jewish women, funded by Jewish women and run by Jewish women in a democratic environment where each Trustee has a voice and a vote.
JWF was founded in 1998 when a number of studies pointed to significant gender disparities in both secular and religious giving. Less than 5% of foundation grants nationwide were funding programs that specifically benefitted women and girls; an even smaller proportion of money was going to promote social change and gender equality in work, school, athletics, and social services.
That year, in response to the growing body of evidence, 11 women became the original Trustees of the JWF. Founded as an autonomous fund within the United Jewish Foundation (UJF), the JWF embarked on building an endowment and raising funds to address funding inequities in Detroit’s Jewish community. With seed money from the UJF and the first payments on philanthropic commitments made by more than 65 women who become JWF Trustees during its founding year, the JWF made its first grants in the year 2000.
From its inception, JWF has empowered its Trustees as philanthropists, grant makers and agents for social change. It built an open, equitable, and fair grants process to ensure that programs and advocacy efforts to benefit Jewish women and girls have a funding source.
JWF Trustees asked the community to imagine the possibilities, and the grant cycles grew from $25,000 in 2000 to more than $250,000. To date, the JWF has awarded more than $3 million to local Jewish and some secular not-for-profit organizations, and it has built an endowment of more than $4 million.
Area agencies have, with JWF grant dollars, worked to respond to domestic abuse, helped women become economically self-sufficient, enriched the lives of girls and women of all ages through educational programs and cultural events, helped support women dealing with substance abuse, funded work training programs and supported women with chronic illnesses.