Uptown Oakland (Photo/Eddie Hernandez via Shutterstock)
Uptown Oakland (Photo/Eddie Hernandez via Shutterstock)

Israel’s S.F. consulate offers grants to Oakland community projects

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The Israeli Consulate plans to give two $5,000 grants to organizations in Oakland or Alameda for new projects — and the organizations don’t need to be Jewish to qualify.

The inaugural Israel-Oakland Impact Grant Initiative was launched this month to fund projects that tackle “relevant issues in the Oakland community,” according to the consulate’s website. The grant has since been expanded to include Alameda.

“We’re serving Israeli and Jewish communities, but we are also a part of the international community and the community here in San Francisco and around the Bay Area,” said consulate spokesperson Savanna Schwartz, who is managing the program. “We just want to make a difference with that.”

The application deadline is May 15. The consulate expects to announce the grants in middle to late June.

The grants target organizations — nonprofits preferred — that will use the money for new projects, as opposed to covering regular overhead costs.  Although Jewish organizations can apply, the program is trying to focus on the wider community.

“In terms of the kind of organizations, we’re really open to anything,” Schwartz said. “Obviously, we do a lot of work currently with Jewish organizations, so we are looking to branch out from that.”

The program was inspired by a similar initiative in the Midwest, where the Chicago-based Israeli Consulate gave three $5,000 grants to Detroit nonprofits last year. The projects ranged from cyberbullying prevention to environmental advocacy training for people of color.

“We wanted to do the same,” Schwartz said. “We saw that it was super impactful.”

As far as the type of projects the consulate wants to fund, she said they should have a concrete impact. The consulate is interested in efforts that are “exceptionally relevant today” and focus on the environment, underserved communities, education and housing.

The grants could help build community relations in a region where Israel often faces intense criticism and where even local politicians and sports teams are asked to take a stand on Middle Eastern issues. But Schwartz said the program is about much more than that.

“We, of course, are representing the country,” she said, “but this is our project attempting to really impact our community — the people that we work with on a daily basis, the people that we talk to.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.