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Jewish Employment Initiative– Response to Poverty Reduction and Prevention

Funding from Six Points Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund will expand employment opportunities for a greater number of Jewish job seekers. Your grant, coupled with your vital hands-on support, networks and guidance, will empower JVS Toronto to mobilize Toronto’s Jewish community leaders and volunteers to develop and implement an aggressive community-wide employment strategy. The implementation of this strategy will lead to reduced unemployment and poverty, and increased self-sufficiency among the Jewish community’s most vulnerable and marginalized members. This will result in less demand on community financial supports and other related social services. In addition, once employed, individuals will be more likely to thrive, and will have a new avenue to get on UJA Federation’s “affiliation highway”, where they can contribute their time, talent and/or dollars back to the community.

Need: 

Recent demographic data estimates that unemployment and underemployment affects over 20,000 Jewish individuals in Toronto today. This reality has a strikingly potent impact on society and causes dramatic social and human consequences. Joblessness creates a legacy of stress, aggression, illness and family breakups, affecting society long into the future. Moreover, when not addressed, unemployment spins into a downward spiral that leads to greater dependence on the social service system (both communal and governmental) for support.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Goal
The goal of this project is to create meaningful employment for Jewish individuals struggling with unemployment and underemployment through the strategic intervention of JVS Toronto, Six Points, and the greater Jewish community.

Objectives
The objectives of the proposed project include:1) Increasing the number of Jewish employers committed to posting their available job openings through Jewish community networks; 2) Raising the income levels of Jewish Families in Toronto whose incomes currently sit below the Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-Off level by assisting them in securing meaningful employment.

Measurement
The success of the proposed project will be measured based on the following milestones: 1)The development of a focused strategy to reduce unemployment, underemployment and poverty in the Jewish community; 2)The number of new Jewish employers who post their job openings on JVS Toronto’s EmetEmployment.org; 3)The number of employers and other community volunteers who become engaged in various interventions focused on increasing employment in the Jewish community; and most importantly 4) The number of new jobs secured through this intervention.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

The proposed initiative will provide the Six Points JVPF membership with a number of opportunities for meaningful participation. Meanwhile Six Points will provide a critical foundation for launching this program on the right track. Opportunities will include: involvement with the start-up and recruitment for the Taskforce on Jewish Employment; mobilization of business networks and community influencers to contribute their time and talents to increasing community awareness of the needs of the Jewish unemployed and underemployed; creating and identifying job opportunities through networking and referrals; public outreach around the city at companies and shuls; and volunteering to mentor youth, newcomers and other unemployed and/or underemployed members of the community.

Time Frame: 

JVS Toronto is requesting funding for two years to jumpstart this vital strategy that will create employment opportunities within the Jewish community. With an immersive financial and human investment, a foundation and framework will be established. By the end of Year Two, we will have a fulsome database of employers, and a seamless strategy for linking the unemployed and underemployed to meaningful employment.

Sponsor/Staff: 

JVS Toronto’s Jewish Community Initiative (JCI) staff have years of experiencing working with Toronto’s vulnerable Jewish population in an employment counselling, workforce development and employer engagement capacity. A staff lead for the project will be hired to work closely with current JCI staff, under the supervision of the Director Programs & Services, Newcomer and Jewish Community Initiatives to co-ordinate the activity of the Taskforce on Jewish Employment, implement recommendations and carry out community and employer outreach activities.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

JVS Toronto, one of the largest and most respected employment agencies in the province of Ontario, serves a segment of the Jewish community that, while economically vulnerable when they present for help, can avoid a downward spiral into poverty through the agency’s timely, robust intervention. But time, funding and strategic networks are factors in getting it right. The development of the proposed Jewish Employment Initiative will offer a community strategy with detailed steps and objectives to assist members of our community in need with their entry into the labour market.

JVS Toronto’s JCI program staff work with many Jewish clients through our involvement in the Bathurst-Finch priority neighbourhood, one of the United Way Toronto 13 priority neighbourhoods, with a large Russian and Israeli Jewish newcomer population. Staff also work with Jewish clients, many of whom live below the poverty line, through the Agency’s partnerships with Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS), Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS Toronto) and the Jewish Russian Community Centre (JRCC).

One of JVS Toronto’s most well-known and successful Jewish Community Initiatives is EmetEmployment.org, funded by UJA Federation. The program is a unique employment service which combines state-of-the-art website technology with traditional job training, job placement and career counselling for unemployed and underemployed Jewish individuals. EmetEmployment.org provides a portal to a wide variety of JVS Toronto services funded by the government, including access to an information and resource centre, career exploration workshops and counselling, individual skills testing, vocational evaluations, psycho-vocational and psycho-educational assessments, pre-employment training and referrals to training opportunities.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

The Jewish Employment Initiative is an innovative idea that will take a new approach to addressing a major need—unemployment and underemployment within our own community. During the two year project duration, the Taskforce on Jewish Employment will build employer and community capacity, resulting in increased employment opportunities for Jews in Toronto. JVS Toronto will also actively seek out funding opportunities from a variety of sources, including foundations, corporations and government bodies to ensure implementation of Taskforce recommendations and to leverage Six Points JVPF’s investment. In addition, to encourage replicating this initiative across North America, JVS Toronto will share the learnings and expertise developed with the Jewish community agencies across Canada whom we have strong relationships with, as well as with the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS), of which we are a member agency.