The Genesis Prize Foundation, in partnership with the Jewish Funders Network, has announced grants totaling $3.17 million to twenty-two organizations in the United States and Israel working to promote inclusion of individuals with disabilities in Jewish life.
For the second consecutive year, grants were awarded through a special matching grants initiative created by GPF and JFN in honor of a Genesis Prize laureate. The 2016 prize laureate, violinist and disabilities advocate Itzhak Perlman, directed that his prize money and the matching funds be used to support programs that promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in Jewish life and young people pursuing careers in classical music.
Recipients of this year's grants include Hillel International, which will use the funds to recruit interns on college campuses to engage students with disabilities in Jewish life; the Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence, which will use the grant to expand JCHAI Transitions, an afterschool and weekend program for individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30 that teaches skills, develops Jewish identity, and helps develop social networks for program participants; and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which is implementing a new project that includes an inclusion workshop series, inclusion institutes, and an online inclusion resource center. An additional grant was also provided to the Perlman-Genesis Strings Project, a five-year Tel Aviv Conservatory program for outstanding young string musicians.
The Genesis Prize recognizes individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields and who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values. Previous Genesis Prize laureates include Michael Bloomberg (2014), who directed his prize money to provide funding for the Genesis Generation Challenge, a competition for young social entrepreneurs working on projects designed to improve the lives of people around the world in the areas of health care, sanitation, and technology, and Michael Douglas (2015), who directed his prize money — along with $1 million matched by philanthropist Roman Abramovich — to initiatives that engage intermarried families in Jewish life. The 2017 Genesis Prize laureate, Anish Kapoor, will direct his prize money to efforts aimed at alleviating the refugee crisis.
"Together with Itzhak Perlman, we aim to improve the lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities throughout North America, Israel, and the FSU," said Genesis Prize Foundation co-founder and chair Stan Polovets. "Itzhak's personal story illustrates humankind's ability to achieve greatness in the face of adversity. We want to give others an opportunity to achieve their own greatness by enjoying lives filled with dignity, respect, and personal fulfillment."