What do a comedy director, a photographer and a retired jeweler in the Los Angeles area all have in common? They are today’s visionaries unwilling to accept the status quo in their own community. All three have developed creative solutions to poverty, hunger, disability, social isolation, and more — with very low overhead and inspiring results. These ‘good people’ led organizations are three of more than sixty nonprofits financially supported and professionally guided by The Good People Fund (GPF).More importantly, they have otherwise fallen below the radar screen of larger charities for funding and support.
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 small gifts that relieve urgent needs to seed money that leverages innovative solutions.
Time is of the essence for one such solution finder. Working from Los Angeles, addressing hunger and poverty abroad, Hollywood comedy director Zane Buzby founded The Survivor Mitzvah Project. While searching for her family’s Eastern European roots several years ago, she was overwhelmed by the poverty and squalor endured by some of the remaining Holocaust survivors in Lithuania and other nearby countries. Abroad she distributes modest sums directly to these Holocaust survivors, to meet their basic needs, and at home she enlists the help of colleagues in the industry like Ed Asner and Valerie Harper to raise awareness. After all, time is running out for these survivors and the need is still an urgent one.
Addressing hunger in Los Angeles is grant recipient Rick Nahmias, founder of Food Forward. To date, Food Forward has recovered over 1,600,000 pounds of fresh produce from private property owners and has distributed 100 percent of the pickings to provide food to over 40,000 clients a month across Southern California. We just learned that through a partnership with a wholesaler at the port, Food Forward was able to distribute 40,000 pounds of fresh produce in one month. Most importantly, they have taken an important step in eliminating tons of wasted produce in the Los Angeles area, which would often sit to rot on neighborhood lawns.
The Good People Fund’s executive director, Naomi Eisenberger recently returned from a visit to the West Coast to catch up with Zane and other LA based grantees. “People like Zane 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.” The full itinerary also included a meeting with Jewcer, the LA based but national Jewish crowdfunding consultancy to discuss partnership opportunities. 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 $5.4 million dollars since its inception in 2008.
This philosophy is what guides the tireless efforts of the Bagel Brigade. With an army of volunteers, the Bagel Brigade, started by the late Herman Berman, collects and distributes unsold bakery goods that would otherwise go to waste on grocery shelves. Running on an annual budget less than $20,000, some months the group could distribute more than 80,000 bread loaves and 50,000 bagels to schools, shelters and pantries in Los Angeles County. These three organizations are part of a greater network of California based nonprofits funded by the Good People Fund.
If you would like to speak with Naomi about the Good People Fund and all the California based grantees, please contact Rachel@goodpeoplefund.org.
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