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Inclusion Mini-Grant applications for 2017 are now closed.

There are many barriers to active participation of Jewish individuals with disabilities in the Jewish community. To help eliminate some of these barriers, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, in partnership with the St. Louis Jewish Community Inclusion Initiative, is proud to provide a program in which Jewish agencies, congregations and schools may apply for Mini-Grants of up to $5,000 for inclusion programs within their community.

This grant opportunity will allow organizations to create a culture of inclusion and shift towards an environment where all are welcome.


Eligible programs and activities may include:
  • Building accessibility – Accessible entrances and interior doorways – width, ramps, automatic door openers; accessible restrooms, parking facilities, etc.
  • Technology – Create a website that supports screen-reading software.
  • Services support – Use of open captioning, sign language interpreter, use of Braille, assistive listening device, etc.
  • Staff training – Train staff in schools at all levels to understand how to support and accommodate students with disabilities.
  • Student support – Funds to cover the costs of accommodations and special equipment as needed for students with disabilities at all levels.
  • Staff support – Funds to cover fees of hiring staff for special programs, respite room staff, etc. Funds cannot cover salaries of existing staff.
  • Transportation – To and from the Congregation and schools so that individuals with disabilities would be able to attend services and programs on a regular basis.
  • Create and support inclusive programs – Start and maintain inclusive programs within the Jewish schools, agencies and congregations.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has made a commitment to promote full participation of Jewish individuals with disabilities. Maximum grant per agency will be $5,000. The target date for awarding grants is March/April 2017. All applicants must be a 501c3 status nonprofit organization. No individuals or for-profit businesses.


Criteria for Inclusion Mini-Grants:
  • All applicants must be 501c3 nonprofit organizations. No individuals or for-profit businesses.
  • Grants will range from $200 to $5,000 depending on the funding needs.
  • Grants cannot be used for funding of ongoing staff.
  • Preference will be given to new programs/projects and expansion of existing programs.
  • An agency that has previously received a Mini-Grant may reapply, but only for a new program or project.
  • Only one application per agency will be considered.
  • Grantees will be required to complete a follow-up progress report in December 2017.

Important note: This is the third and likely final round of Inclusion Mini-Grants. After this year, we will evaluate the best way to address inclusions issues moving forward.


2016 Grants

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has awarded $50,000 in grants to 14 Jewish schools, agencies and congregations for inclusive programs. This is the second year that the Jewish Federation of St. Louis has allocated Mini Grants in order to help Jewish organizations eliminate some of the barriers for full inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families in the Jewish community. The 14 projects present a variety of inclusive programs around topics such as accessibility, employment, student support and training/workshops.

“The Inclusion Mini-Grant from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis is going to help Bais Abraham hire an architect whose specialty is in accessibility to draw up plans as a first step in launching Bais Abe’s accessibility capitol campaign,” says Rabbi Shafner. “Our goal is for Bais Abraham, St. Louis’ oldest synagogue building still in use, to become accessible to those with disabilities and help Bais Abe bring to fruition its deeply head values of unity and inclusion for all Jews.”

“We are excited to receive refunding from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis so we will be able to train our teachers on how to best help students with sensory processing disorders,” says  Lauren Lourie, Director of Early Childhood Engagement at United Hebrew Congregation. “This money will help give teachers in the Jewish community, plus our students, the tools to best handle all different learning styles in the classroom.”

“The JCC has a long-standing mission of providing programming to individuals of all abilities,” says Lynn Wittels, JCC President & CEO. “The Buddies@Work program allows us to build upon the rich array of programming by providing vocational training in addition to our fitness, cultural, camping and social programming. The Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ Inclusion Mini Grant will enhance our ability to do so.”


2016 Mini-Grant Recipients and Projects:
  • Bais Abraham Congregation – “Facilitating Accessibility” – to solve accessibility barriers by installing a ramp and a lower call button to the front door, renovate bathroom for wheelchair accessibility and work with a consultant as part of the process to make the entire building accessible.
  • Congregation B’nai Amoona – “Improvement of Sanctuary Accessibility” – to improve sanctuary accessibility by purchasing special seats with arms for members with mobility challenges.
  • Congregation Shaare Emeth – “Supporting for Success” – to insure full integration of students with disabilities in religious school studies by purchasing iPads and supporting technology to help these students with their learning challenges.
  • Covenant Place – “Accessible Apartments for Covenant Place I” – to make accessibility modifications for nine apartments in the new Covenant Place building that would include adaptations for residents with vision, hearing and mobility challenges.
  • Crown Center for Senior Living – “Open Door Project” – to improve accessibility for residents with physical and mobility disabilities by installing automatic openers on restroom doors.
  • Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim – “Shevet Keshet Inclusion Initiative” – to include kids with special needs in all of the troops activities by hiring Hebrew speaking students to accompany those kids and allowing them to fully participate in all activities.
  • Holocaust Museum & Learning Center – “Wheelchair Project for Kopolow Building” – to accommodate Museum visitors who cannot stand or walk for a long period of time by purchasing two wheelchairs that would provide those visitors better access to all amenities and programs at the Museum.
  • Jewish Community Center – “Buddies@Work Supported Employment Project Expansion” – to expand the Buddies@Work pre-vocational training program for young individuals with disabilities by providing work opportunities by opening a café at the JCC Marilyn Fox building that will be managed by the program’s participants.
  • Neve Shalom Congregation – “Big Tent Podcast” – to help diminish the shame and stigma associated with mental illness by creating a startup podcast telling personal stories of mental illness.
  • Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School – “Occupational Therapy Expansion” – to support students with motor and sensory challenges by expanding the work of the school’s occupational therapist and adding additional 111 hours of OT services.
  • Louis Rabbinical Association – “Mental Health Awareness Shabbat” – to encourage all Jewish congregations to participate in a stigma breaking Shabbat experience dedicated to teaching and inspiring communities to understand and embrace individuals with mental illness.
  • Taharath Israel of St. Louis – “Mikvah Access Lift for People with Disabilities” – to provide access to the Millstone Campus Mikvha to individuals with physical disabilities by installing a pool lift.
  • United Hebrew Congregation – “Saul Spielberg Early Childhood Center Sensory Disorder Training and Supplies” – to support students at their early childhood center who have sensory disorders by purchasing sensory supplies to assist in learning in the classroom, and train all teachers on how to best accommodate these students.
  • Yeshivat Kadimah High School – “Yeshivat Kadimah’s Learning Differences Inclusion Project” to support the school’s students with learning disabilities by hiring a part time consultant to work with students and staff.


2015 Grants

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has awarded $47,830 in grants to 15 Jewish schools, agencies and congregations for inclusive programs. This is the first time that Jewish Federation of St. Louis has gifted Inclusion Mini-Grants to help Jewish organizations become more inclusive to individuals with disabilities and their families.

“Thank you to Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the new Inclusion Grant program,” said Liessa Alperin, Director, Shaare Emeth Religious School. “Because of these funds, Shaare Emeth and the St. Louis community are able to move closer to being a truly inclusive place for all of our students and their families. The community benefits when there are more doors opened and more roads paved for families who until now have felt isolated from the community because of a lack of support.”

The 15 projects granted present a variety of inclusive programs, including accessibility and equipment purchases, training and workshops, students support and social activities.

“The Inclusion Grants help small congregations like ours to fulfill our mission by providing funds to transform our physical space and systems to meet the challenges of our congregants and guests,” shared Cyndee Levy, President, Traditional Congregation.

“The Inclusion Mini-Grant will enable us to add much needed hours to our speech and language therapy services and significantly propel our students forward,” said Cheryl Maayan, Head of School, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community Day School.  “Communication is a critical leadership skill and early intervention can provide some children with the scaffolding upon which to build a life of success.”


2015 Inclusion Mini-Grant Recipients:
  • Aish HaTorah of Greater St. Louis – to ensure the building is accessible to all by repairing the building’s elevator.
  • Central Reform Congregation – to ensure the Congregation is accessible to all by providing open captioning for High Holiday services, installing a power access door at the front entry that would automatically open and purchasing Braille and large type prayer books.
  • Congregation B’nai Amoona – to serve as a community education resource by providing eight workshops throughout the year that would focus on raising awareness and inclusiveness at the Congregation and the Jewish community.
  • Congregation Shaare Emeth – to provide workshops, training and community meetings on inclusion by Matan, a nationally recognized Jewish organization that works on behalf of special needs children and families.
  • Congregation Temple Israel, Deutsch Early Childhood Center – to provide occupational therapist services to students with behavioral and developmental disabilities, 12 months to 5 years old.
  • Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim – to become a fully inclusive troop by providing counselors training, purchase of equipment and organize the “Celebrate the differences” program where kids participate in an activity without the use of one of their senses to help them gain insight of what it is like to have a disability.
  • Holocaust Museum & Learning Center – to allow individuals with physical disabilities access to the Museum independently by purchasing and installing a new lift with a power door that opens automatically for the person using the lift.
  • National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section – to make the NCJW office accessible for all by converting two small bathrooms into one ADA bathroom.
  • Neve Shalom – to learn and address the issue of mental illness in the Jewish community by providing educational workshops to the community.
  • Nusach Hari B’nai Zion – to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in the Congregation’s activities by purchasing and installing a remote conference video system.
  • Ohr Atid, Light of the Future, Inc. – to create a Sunday school environment for kids and young adults with disabilities by pairing them with Washington University of St. Louis volunteer students.
  • Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community Day School – to support students with learning disabilities by providing 100 hours of speech therapy services during school day.
  • Torah Prep of St. Louis – to establish an Inclusion Center at school that would provide individualized and specialized education for students with physical, emotional and learning disabilities.
  • Traditional Congregation – to enhance services for seniors and members with disabilities by purchasing large print siddurim, new phone tree recording system and installation of two cement ramps for accessibility to the sukkah.
  • United Hebrew Congregation – to ensure the congregation is accessible for all by installing permanent assistive listening system in the sanctuary, auditorium and chapel.