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You don’t have to be Jewish to love the Columbus Jewish Foundation

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“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” is one of the most immortalized advertising messages of all time.

Chris Hayes of Outlook Media and Wayne Owens of the German Village Society’s Village Singers paraphrase the ad when talking about charitable giving: You don’t have to be Jewish to love the Columbus Jewish Foundation.

Their organizations, and an increasing number of other non-Jewish groups, are turning to the Columbus Jewish Foundation as a partner for philanthropic endeavors.  Although not Jewish, they find that the Foundation’s fund management services meet their needs as well as pastrami and rye.

Founded in 2001, Village Singers is a neighborhood group that presents two concerts a year and sings carols during Village Lights, an annual German Village holiday celebration featuring luminarias, live entertainment and late-night business openings. Its Foundation-managed endowment provides arts- and music-related scholarships for German Village youngsters. Earlier this year the fund provided scholarships for fifth-grade students to attend Columbus Children’s Theatre summer camp.  According to its founder, Wayne Owens, Village Singers has its sights set on making additional annual grants while also building their endowment.  “We taking small steps,”  he said, “but for starters we want the Village Singers to attain a $10,000 permanent endowment.”

Columbus-based Outlook Media publishes High Street Neighborhoods and Outlook Columbus, the latter of which caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The company’s Outlook Media Fund, housed at the Foundation, awarded its first grant this month to the Columbus-based Kaleidoscope Youth Center.  The grant from the Outlook Media Fund  will help young people to attend next year’s Great Exchange Conference, said Chris Hayes, Outlook Media president and CEO.

“Our fund’s purpose is to give people a voice who don’t have one,” said Hayes, who hopes to support a variety of events and issues as the endowment grows.

Endowments are investment funds with a stated purpose established determined by the donor. They are “evergreen,” meaning that they will always generate money for good causes because the fund principal never is invaded or spent down.

Personal connections played a part in the establishment of the endowments. Both the German Village Society and Outlook Media were encouraged to consider the Columbus Jewish Foundation as their philanthropic partner by Aaron Leventhal, who also is a Foundation fundholder.

“I believe in the mission of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, and it’s not just about being Jewish,” said Leventhal, who has volunteered with Owens on a number of German Village events, and in 2010 sold High Street Neighborhoods to Outlook Media. He believes that non-Jewish organizations and individuals “are a totally untapped resource” for the Foundation.

Both Owens and Hayes worked with Foundation CEO Jackie Jacobs to establish their funds. Owens said the Foundation’s management fee is “extremely favorable,” while Hayes noted that Jacobs helped him identify a direction for his fund and “did all the heavy lifting.” Both had considered other charitable organizations before turning to Foundation for assistance.

“I just really like Jackie and the entire organization,” said Hayes, adding that despite the small size of the endowment, “I never get lost in the mix.” Owens agreed, adding that he’d recommend the Foundation to others. “This is not a secular or religious issue – it’s simply to reward students,” he said.

Jacobs said inclusiveness and diversity are Foundation goals. Although it manages dozens of organizations’ endowments, “People don’t always recognize the broad reach of the Foundation, and some might assume it’s only for Jewish causes,” he said. “but we serve the entire community.”

Article appears as published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, August 14, 2014.

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