ROI Summit
ROI SummitIsrael news photo: Yoni Kempinski

ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators has announced the forming of a $100,000 Micro Grants Fund – to be allocated in small portions of not more than $1,000 each among its 550 members.

The idea is to empower young Jewish innovators and help them get started in their bids to impact on the Jewish world. To kick off the new campaign, ROI is rolling out a two-minute video starring “Mini Me” Verne Troyer, the diminutive Hollywood celebrity, extolling the power of micro-grants to make a mega-difference.

ROI Community provides professional development and financial support to its young innovator and activist members. Over the past five years, these members have launched hundreds of projects in more than 100 communities and in over 30 countries .

The new fund is "an innovative philanthropic tool," explains ROI Community’s Executive Director Justin Korda, "leveraging small amounts of money at a critical time in the development of these early- to mid-career adults and their initiatives… In the coming years, our goal is to invest hundreds of $1,000 grants, creating ripples of change among one million young Jewish adults who are looking for creative entry points into Jewish life.”

Micro Grants will support ROI members in four areas:

  • Travel to and participation in conferences to help them grow professionally and/or provide important exposure for their project;
  • Training and skill building through special courses or executive coaching;
  • Event sponsorship to boost grantees at a pivotal time; and,
  • Corporate support, including such services as legal, media relations and graphic design.

The Micro Grants program is building on the success of ROI’s Speakers Bureau. “We backed members with small grants to speak at conferences they would not have otherwise been able to afford to attend,” said ROI Grants Manager No’a Gorlin. “Through these subsidies, not only did grantees gain exposure for their innovative initiatives, they were also able to impact policy, network with funders, and build new collaborations.”

For example, last November, Andre Oboler of Australia was granted a ROI Speakers Bureau grant, enabling him to attend the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Canada, which brought together parliamentarians and other experts from 40 countries. He is now part of an international policy working group formed there.

In August 2010, StandWithUs’ Michelle Rojas-Tal of Jerusalem keynoted at the Australia Jewish Educators Conference in Melbourne, attended by nearly 400 Jewish educators from Australia and New Zealand. As a result, she was invited to speak at schools across Australia and is now collaborating with the Australian Zionist Federation, providing StandWithUs materials, resources, speakers and workshops both in Australia and Israel.

“These outstanding young Jewish innovators are creating Jewish communities in their own image,” said ROI Founder Lynn Schusterman. “We’re thrilled to be a part of that. I may make it possible, but they make it happen.”

ROI explains on its website that its name stands for “return on investment,” a common business term referring to the achievement of a desirable outcome through wise investment. Furthermore, ro’eh in Hebrew means shepherd, “which in our tradition has always symbolized a position of leadership.”