Michael R. Oestreicher
I am deeply privileged to be leading the Foundation during the formative years of what is proving to be a new epoch in its history – one where, in collaboration with many other organizations across our community, we can put our significantly enhanced resources to work by taking advantage of the many opportunities to make this community an even more extraordinary and exemplary one in which to live. Our goal and our promise are to make thoughtful and disciplined investments for the benefit of our entire community: those who need help from it, those who participate in it, and those who support it.
During the past year, in what continue to be difficult economic times, we have felt an urgency to have an immediate impact by addressing a significant backlog of critical needs. In fact, we began our fiscal year with more than $80 million in grant requests and $17 million in pre-existing commitments. These challenges notwithstanding, we believe it is imperative to look beyond just the current needs of our community and the types of philanthropy with which the Foundation has been so successful since its founding in 1995. We will achieve this by partnering with organizations and congregations to create new programs or improve upon existing ones; by undertaking or sponsoring important research to obtain updated data and information concerning the Cincinnati Jewish community; and by engaging in strategic conversations, as well as planning and coordination, about meeting future community needs.
During the coming year we are committed to our goal of being a creative, constructive partner that has the ability and resources to help weave together many different threads into a vibrant community tapestry. This will continue to require serious discussions with prospective grantees, not only about their individual needs as institutions that are working toward their own worthy objectives, but also about specific ways in which they can contribute even more to the overall communal landscape. This will make the collective ground more fertile — and will ultimately result in everyone receiving much more than they contribute.
You can see examples of the grants we have made since 2011 in our “Press Room”. They include a significant grant to the Barbash Family Vital Support Center of Jewish Family Service, a new aquatic rehab facility at Cedar Village, two new initiatives at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and significant investments in the local Jewish day schools, overnight Jewish camping and Israel educational experiences. We have also made grants that brought Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel to Cincinnati in May 2012, and will bring the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit here for six months beginning in November. And we are especially proud of our very successful collaboration during the past year with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, and in particular its Cincinnati 2020 initiative.
We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions as we work to fulfill our commitments to Cincinnati’s Jewish community. We know the input we receive from you will add important perspective to our work, and will enhance the Foundation’s role as the trusted, high impact investor our community deserves.