In a recent e-Jewish Philanthropy article, Avodah’s Economic Access Fund, which offers financial assistance to participants (in addition to their stipend) to help cover personal hardships, is named as the model that the service organization, Repair the World, is now using to help make their program more accessible to young Jews who come from lower-income backgrounds. Below is an excerpt from the piece:
Repair’s financial assistance is inspired by Avodah, a Jewish service group whose flagship program places young Jews in one-year positions at anti-poverty nonprofits around the country. Avodah created an Economic Accessibility Task Force in 2018, which made its program accessible to those who wanted to serve but may not have had the financial resources to immerse themselves in a year of service work, said Avodah CEO Cheryl Cook.
“For people to take a year out of the full-time paid salary job market to spend a ton of time as a full-time [stipended] volunteer is actually a privilege that some of us can do, but not all of us,” she told eJP.
Avodah’s Economic Access Fund, which started out as a $10,000 line item in the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget “for non-discretionary expenses” such as winter clothing and deferment of student loans, has more than tripled over the last three years. In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, out of an Economic Access Fund budget of $35,000, Avodah has already disbursed nearly $31,000 to 39 participants.
We are proud that Repair the World has replicated Avodah’s model. As Avodah CEO Cheryl Cook states in the piece, we hope to see “a field-wide conversation about economic access” among Jewish groups, led by those with lived experience of economic hardship.
“I would like to have our Jewish community make it a priority for us to see this as a serious issue that we need to tackle,” Cook said.