Within the Jewish Federation, Women of Vision is an affinity group that’s different from all the rest. It’s essentially a giving circle, in which donors pool their funds, then decide together where to allocate their money, making a point of engaging with the issues covered by recipient organizations. It is its own foundation. “So the funding we give out is determined by our membership, which is unique in Jewish Federation,” Women of Vision Manager Iris Leon said.
As a grassroots initiative started in 1994 by volunteer Sally Cooper Bleznak, Women of Vision’s intentions were — and remain — to invest in issues affecting women and girls, and also to increase its members’ understanding of community needs. Or, as aptly phrased in its mission statement, “to empower women as philanthropists, leaders and decision makers.”
Women of Vision seeks to fund programs that impact the lives of Jewish women and girls across generations, with the goals of social justice and social change. Each year, Women of Visision’s committees accept and review proposals from dozens of applicants, and the entire membership of more than 500 women votes to determine the winning programs.
Women of Vision has just announced its 2017-18 grant cycle, awarding $99,000 to four organizations in the Philadelphia area and in Israel. Chair Marcy Bacine said, “Each is unique in what they offer but each is definitely going to have impact.”
The grant recipients are:
Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia: $31,000
Visionary Women: Rooted in Faith, Committed to Justice is an intergenerational, interfaith, all-women workshop series that emphasizes strengthened identity and increased empathy as key components to becoming change agents for tolerance and understanding. “This will impact women across all religious spectrums,” Bacine said “The hope is that this will help our local community come to understand diversity in a positive way.”
Igniting Your Advocacy is a campaign that engages and trains Jewish women to become gun violence prevention advocates, in particular, and advocates, in general. “Even women who are vocal about a lot of things can be shy about advocacy work: contacting legislators and so forth,” Bacine said. “So this will help women become advocates, both for gun control issues that many of us are concerned about, as well as other issues many of us feel passionate about.”
SeniorLAW Center: $25,000
Protecting the Legal Rights of Older Jewish Women is a program that provides legal services, training and community education to empower older Jewish women, allowing them to age in place with independence and dignity. “This training for professionals who work with seniors will help put Jewish elderly women out of harm’s way, especially of physical and financial abuse,” Bacine said.
ATZUM – Justice Works: $18,000
Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution is a legislative, advocacy and educational effort in Israel to end human trafficking and to protect women and girls from abuse. “This is our second time funding Atzum, and they’ve had success in getting members of Knesset to understand issues around the rights of women and girls,” Bacine said. “They’re making progress that we feel will lead to changes in Israeli law to benefit women.”
Meet Marcy Bacine, Chair of Women of Vision
On Sept. 1, Marcy Bacine assumed a two-year term as chair of Women of Vision. Bacine has served on several Women of Vision committees, including co-chairing the Grants Committee and participating in the development of the Women of Vision’s strategic plan. As chair, Bacine plans to continue implementing the strategic plan and work toward meeting a $3 million fundraising goal.
Bacine is a longtime Jewish Federation volunteer and donor, currently serving on the Women’s Philanthropy Board and the Board of Trustees. Additionally, she is passionate about improving the lives of young children and has an extensive background in early childhood education. She was the very first director of Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) and serves as vice president of the board of the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation.