This is my first blogging experience. I dedicate it to fellow Atlanta Wexner Heritage alum, Seth Cohen, a well-known and highly successful blogger and the first person I discussed a pooled giving fund with. I hereby summon his blogging aura to this post.
As has been reported in two previous Wexner newsletters, we in the Atlanta 10 class have undertaken to establish a pooled giving fund/giving collaborative/Jewish social venture fund. Just last week, after a full grant application process, we gave away our first $15,000 in grants to two great new Jewish organizations in Atlanta. One is a very differently conceived Jewish afterschool and summer program called JewishKidsGroups which is off to a great start here in (only) its second year of “ridiculously cool” (their phrase, but true) programming; and the other is Camp Living Wonders, which is about to launch its second year as the only specifically Jewish camp in the country for kids with developmental disabilities — they are high-functioning enough for sleep away camp but not ready for an inclusion program at a “regular” Jewish sleep away camp. Every one of our 19 Atlanta 10 class members contributed to the fund, which is held as a philanthropic fund at our Jewish Federation.
I’m happy to discuss process or program specifics. We want to make a difference, year by year, grant by grant, program by program, in building a better and more vibrant Atlanta Jewish community — a Jewish community that welcomes new ideas and where innovation thrives. We feel good that we are off to a great start on this.
For the purpose of this post, however, I mostly want to note that there are Wexner groups in Houston and Phoenix who are also undertaking very similar models for community giving and engagement. And I want to ask the question: why not all Wexner alum classes give this a thought? I think most of us who go through this great program come out at the end feeling motivated, empowered, and intent on doing something. The question is what. We all already do a lot. It’s a challenge to do something that makes us feel that we are specifically channeling our “Wexner” selves towards the greater Jewish good, and as a unified cohort. This model has enabled us in Atlanta to say yes. Yes, we are doing something for our community and yes, we are doing it specifically as Wexner graduates. It’s an easy, affordable way to do something. And it keeps us together as a group in a meaningful way. Y’all should give it a thought.
We’ve only done this one year. We’re thinking of expanding it to other Atlanta Wexner classes next year. There’s no guarantee that the project will last, but it doesn’t take too much member time, doesn’t cost any one person too much, and makes us feel good (so far).
Matthew Lieberman, an alum of the Atlanta 10 Wexner Heritage Class studied at Yale College and attended Yale Law School. Matthew has been involved in a number of Jewish Organizations. From 2005-2007, Matthew was head of Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta. He has also been involved in AIPAC and last year was named Co- President of JNF (Jewish National Fund). Matthew Lieberman owns Compass Benefits, Inc., a benefits firm, and has five children, Tennessee and Willie.