Julie Leven performs in and organizes chamber music concerts, seven a month, to a unique audience— residents throughout Boston’s homeless shelters. As a founder of Shelter Music Boston, Julie and two other colleagues Julia McKenzie and Rebecca Strauss have performed over 100 shelter concerts since its inception three years ago. Leven is a visionary unwilling to accept the status quo in her own community. She is one of many in the Boston area that has developed a creative solution to poverty, hunger, disability, social isolation, and more — with very low overhead and inspiring results. Her nonprofit is one of the ‘good people’-led organizations, collectively made up of more than sixty nonprofits financially supported and professionally guided by The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org) throughout Israel and the U.S. Shelter Music Boston was the recipient of a $10,000 matching grant, which allowed them to expand their program to two additional shelters. More importantly, Leven’s organization and others of similar size might have otherwise fallen below the radar screen of larger funding opportunities and support but have been recognized and supported by the Good People Fund which specifically seeks out these small, little known efforts. While all of the funded grantees are not a typical Jewish organization, they do focus on tikkun olam (repairing the world).
The Good People Fund is not a traditional foundation that just sends a check. They identify and support small, highly effective tzedakah (doing the right thing) initiatives dedicated to tikkun olam (repairing the world). Then they build relationships with all their ‘good people’ to nurture their great work, monitor progress and ensure accountability. The grants range from seed money that leverages innovative solutions to ongoing funding to help maintain and grow a program as well as small gifts that relieve urgent needs.
The Good People Fund’s Executive Director, Naomi Eisenberger just returned from meeting with the Boston grantees. “People like Julie prove our belief that it is most often good people, responding to a need in our world, who can effect change and inspire all of us to do the same. We pride ourselves on identifying good people doing great work to help others,” says Eisenberger. “Our focus is on these good people and their often unnoticed efforts. With the help of our donors our wish is to nurture and grow these programs to a point where they can succeed and gain wider recognition.”
Down the road in Newton, there is a second new grantee, One Can Help who received a $7,500 matching grant to help them further their mission to encourage low-income, high-risk children and parents involved in the juvenile court system to get the help they need to make positive changes when no other funds are available from state agencies. Founded by attorney Anne Bader-Martin, One Can Help partners with court-appointed attorneys and social workers to assist the poorest children and families but often lack the necessary resources to help effectively. These professionals, after identifying specific needs they feel could make a significant difference to a motivated parent or needy child, apply to One Can Help for assistance. An example of their support includes providing bus fare so a young mother can visit with her baby who has been placed in foster care some distance away while she successfully completes a drug program. Without those visits a trial might terminate her parental rights because she was unable to keep up the bond with her child simply because she could not afford to visit regularly.
Other grantees supported in the greater Boston area include Operation Day’s Work. Advised by veteran teacher Ron Adams, for more than sixteen years, students of Broad Meadows Middle School in Quincy annually partner with a reputable non-governmental organization to bring freedom, education and health care to children in a developing country. They have been inspired by the efforts of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child sold into slavery, who eventually gained his freedom, became a strong advocate on behalf of children and was ultimately murdered because of his activism. The Good People Fund typically underwrites all of the students’ modest expenses for office supplies, technology and t-shirts worn by members as they go about their work raising funds.
The Good People Fund’s newest grantee is Boston-based Tunefoolery. This organization is founded by, composed of and run by consumers (people receiving mental health services) who play and perform music to establish identities based on musical achievement rather than mental illness. They have received a $1,000 grant to help expand their focus.
With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $6 million dollars since its inception in 2008. Recent photos are available upon request.
Founded in 2008, The Good People Fund, inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world), responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. We provide financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts. Our grant recipients are leading their non-profits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff but are driven and determined to make a difference in their communities. After all, small actions have huge impacts. Further information can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org
Contact: Rachel Litcofsky 508-314-4304 | Rachel@goodpeoplefund.org twitter: @goodpeoplefund | facebook.com/thegoodpeoplefund