Frequently Asked Questions

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.

 

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.

Since 2005, the BYFI alumni community has supported over 100 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.

 

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.

For alumni 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.

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

 

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.

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, Susan Pultman (susan@byfi.org).

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?

The grant application deadlines are May 15 and October 15 each year.

1. BYFI Alumni Venture Fund grants are supported through funds raised by the annual BYFI alumni fundraising campaign.

2. Applications for funding must be submitted by one or more BYFI alumni. Eligible projects for funding are those where BYFI alumni are responsible, either wholly or in part, for the success of said project.

3. 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. If a project is related to political engagement, proof must be provided that the project is non-partisan.

4. Campus publications and journals are not eligible for funding but can receive in-kind support through the BYFI network. Grants can not be used to fund individual salaries, internships, travel, or academic research projects. Contact becky@byfi.org for further information.

5. Alumni members of the Fundraising and Projects Committee will review Alumni Venture Fund proposals twice a year. Application submission deadlines are May 15 & October 15 of each year. Funding decisions will be made within six weeks of the deadline. Recipients will be notified via e-mail by a representative of the Fundraising and Projects Committee or the Director of Alumni Engagement.

6. BYFI can only make grants to public charities as defined under IRS Code 501(c)3 or to alumni of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, as individuals. If the grant is to be given to a public charity, a copy of that organization's IRS determination letter must accompany the funding application. If approved funds are to be issued directly to an alumnus/ae, rather than a public charity, that individual will receive a 1099misc form for use in connection with their personal income tax filing. If you have any questions about how this may affect your taxes, BYFI strongly suggests speaking with your tax professional. The name of funding recipient/organization must be indicated and approved prior to submission of grant application.

7. Within two weeks of notification of funding decision by BYFI, recipient must contact Heather Smith (heather.smith@byfi.org) BYFI Accounts Manager, so that all information can be incorporated into a grant agreement. Recipients will be asked to have a phone conversation with a representative of the Fundraising and Projects Committee or the Director of Alumni Engagement to discuss the value of the new relationship to both parties.

8. In order for the grant check to be issued, the recipient must sign the grant agreement and send it to: BYFI c/o Heather Smith, 163 Delaware Avenue, Suite 102, Delmar, NY 12054. This must be done within two months of grant notification. If all material is not received within this timeframe, the grant will be void.

9. Two months from funding notification, alumni responsible for funded projects will be expected to submit a short ‘project update,' using a template provided by the Fundraising and Projects Committee. Additionally, recipients may be contacted and asked to write an email describing their project and what receiving an AVF grant has meant to them.

10. Six months from funding notification, alumni responsible for funded projects will be expected to submit a short article (500 words or less) for use in a future BYFI E-bulletin. Photos and any collateral created as a result of the project are greatly appreciated.

11. Recipients will publicize, in appropriate ways, the fact that the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund has supported the project. When relevant, they will also work with BYFI to produce press releases and other publicity materials providing information about their alumni project to the broader community.

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Please contact Naamah Paley, Senior Program Officer (naamah@byfi.org).

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We seek to identify Fellows who represent the widest possible range of Jewish affiliation, background and observance. Some Fellows are religiously observant and attend Jewish day schools, others have never had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or consider themselves atheist. We welcome applications from anyone who is interested in serious discussion and exploration of what Jewishness means for him/herself and for others. There is no religious requirement for the program other than that you self-identify as Jewish.

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