- Assets: $7,173,516 (2006)
- Grants Received: $2,723,592 (2006)
- Grants Awarded: $4,216,198 (2006)
Established in 1988, the Shefa Fund’s mission was to “revitalize urban neighborhoods and support civil and human rights through community investing, shareholder engagement, socially responsible grantmaking, and funder education.” It was set up not as a traditional foundation, but as a public charity that: (a) took money from donors who specified the precise groups and causes for which they wanted it earmarked, and (b) funneled that cash (minus a handling fee) to those recipients. Such transactions are called “donor-advised funds.”
Shefa’s areas of funding included social and economic justice; community and economic development; feminism and gender issues (which included Jewish feminist educational curricula); minority rights and entitlements; Middle East peace and economic development; the transformation of Jewish life (including youth funding and projects relating to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues); inner-city residents; and the disabled. Shefa also funded and promoted voting rights for all immigrants regardless of citizenship status, and it published a newsletter and contributed columns to Tikkun, a leftist Jewish magazine edited by Michael Lerner.
The Shefa Fund was harshly critical of Israeli policies in the Middle East. Its Middle East Peace Folio gave moral equivalence to Palestinian terrorism and Israeli anti-terror defense measures. This publication accused the Israeli government of engaging in widespread human_-_rights violations against Palestinians, and of instituting “discriminatory” and “inequitable” policies that had left the country’s resident Arabs “mired in deep poverty.” The rest of the Folio consisted of the resumes of anti-Israel Jewish organizations that Shefa supported.
A member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, the Shefa Fund gave generously to anti-Israel activists. Shefa’s goal was to help create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, with the peace to be brokered by the United States, the European Union, and Arab nations along with outside non-governmental organizations. According to Shefa, “Israel’s … occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip” was “replete with human rights violations, from home demolitions and roadblocks to torture and killing.”
The Shefa Fund received more than $27.5 million in grants from 1999 through 2003. During that period, it awarded — in partnership with 50 donor advisors — grants to 167 social- and economic-justice and peace organizations, mostly in the U.S. and Israel. In addition, eight grants were awarded to Jewish feminist and Jewish gay/lesbian organizations.
In 2006 the Shefa Fund merged with The Jewish Fund for Justice to form a new entity called Jewish Funds for Justice.
During its eighteen-year history, the Shefa Fund supported such organizations as: the American Civil Liberties Union; Americans for Peace Now; Betselem; the Institute for Policy Studies; the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action; the Jewish Fund for Justice; the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund; the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; MoveOn.org; the Nation Institute; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the National Organization for Women; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Nicaragua Network; Oxfam America; the Sierra Club; Tikkun magazine; United for Peace and Justice; Win Without War; and Witness for Peace.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Shefa Fund, click here.