Established in 1957 and animated by the Jewish value of tzedakah (obligation to be charitable), the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation promotes social justice and human rights through six program areas:
- Strengthening Public Education seeks to improve outcomes and opportunities for students and the quality of teaching and leadership in the Baltimore City school system
- Arts and Culture nurtures a robust cultural scene and ensures that the arts are accessible to children and underserved audiences in the Baltimore region
- Health and Mental Health aims to expand access to quality, affordable health and mental health services for low-income residents of Baltimore City and create better health outcomes locally, regionally and nationally by addressing environmental threats to human health
- Strengthening Israeli Democracy works to support Israel as a pluralistic society by promoting shared society between Jewish and Arab citizens in the Negev, building the pipeline to higher education and workforce integration for Israel’s ethnic minorities, and protecting Israel’s environment
- Jewish Life focuses on keeping Judaism meaningful and responsive to contemporary concerns through “repairing the world”, furthering progressive and inclusive approaches to Judaism, and facilitating nuanced discourse among American Jews about Israel
- International Human Rights advances women’s and reproductive rights, and protects the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the US and other countries
The Foundation supports organizations that: promote systemic change; involve constituent participation in identifying needs, planning and decision-making; encourage innovation; have clear goals, a process for evaluation and a long-range funding strategy.
Seeking to improve the lifetime outcomes and opportunities for Baltimore youth and the region, the Foundation invests in strategies to strengthen Baltimore’s public school system. The primary focus of this program is to support efforts that improve the quality of leadership and teaching within the school system. The Foundation funds alternative pathway programs for principals and teachers and supports professional development programming to deepen teacher content knowledge and practice, particularly in the areas of arts, literacy, progressive education practices and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The Foundation also supports efforts to improve school climate, with a focus on restorative practices and social emotional learning. The Foundation will, from time to time, consider support for district-identified priorities.
The Foundation also supports public policy, legislative and litigation efforts related to securing equitable public funding for Baltimore City public schools.
The Foundation does not support programming or capital needs of individual schools, although it will consider programs working across a cluster of schools. Funding is restricted to Baltimore City.
One marker of a healthy city is the strength of its cultural life. Arts and cultural organizations are a significant economic engine in the Baltimore region, generating over $600 million annually and employing thousands. More importantly, the arts educate and inspire both young and old, stimulating creativity in schools and workplaces. The Foundation’s arts and culture investments fall into three categories: arts education, diversifying audiences and key institutions. In arts education, the Foundation supports efforts that strengthen and expand the arts offerings of Baltimore City schools, including the capacity of arts teachers. The Foundation also supports organizations reaching new and different audiences, particularly people of color and younger people, as a means of building a sustainable base for the future. And the Foundation invests in key anchor arts and cultural institutions that serve as tourism draws and enhance the vitality of the region.
The Foundation will consider general operating, program and capital grants in its arts and culture portfolio. Funding is restricted to the Baltimore metropolitan area.
The Foundation seeks to strengthen Israel as a democratic, equitable, sustainable, and pluralistic society. Reflecting the friendship between Jacob Blaustein and David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding Prime Minister who championed settlement of the Negev, many of the Foundation’s grants are centered in this southern desert region. The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in Sde Boqer, established in 1981 and today part of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is one of the Foundation’s signature commitments in Israel. Students from across the globe come to the Institutes to conduct research on sustainable water use, solar energy, and desert agriculture.
The Foundation works in four issue areas:
- Promoting equality and shared society for Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Arab Israelis make up over a fifth of Israel’s population. Nonetheless, most Jews and Arabs grow up never having met a peer from outside their community, and significant economic and educational gaps persist. This is particularly true in the south of the country, where the Negev Bedouin are isolated from the region’s growing economic opportunities. The Foundation focusses on Negev-based shared society organizations that work closely with the region’s educational, municipal and governmental leadership, bringing together Jewish and Bedouin leaders to create new models for change. The Foundation occasionally funds shared society organizations that work nationally; however, we are unable to accept proposals for local or regional efforts outside the Negev.
- Building the pipeline to higher education and workforce integration for Israel’s ethnic minorities. While Israel has a deserved reputation as the “start-up nation,” not everyone participates in or benefits from this progress. The Foundation focuses on programs that prepare Bedouin and Ethiopian Israeli students for higher education, support them during their academic studies, and provide opportunities to integrate into the workforce after graduation. We are unable to accept proposals for vocational education or for programs that work with individuals without academic degrees.
- Protecting and sustaining Israel’s environment. Israel today is one of the most crowded countries in the world and faces significant environmental challenges. The Foundation supports programs that address these challenges through litigation, policy change, leadership development and community activism. While funding is provided primarily to national programs, we do accept proposals from local organizations based in the Negev. We are unable to accept proposals for local and regional environmental efforts in other areas of the country.
- Ensuring civil and human rights, including freedom of religious expression. Funding is provided to national programs working on a range of issues affecting citizens of Israel. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals in this area.
The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation has deep roots in Jewish tradition. Its concern for social justice and equality of opportunity flow from its family and community history. The Foundation invests both nationally in the USA and locally in Baltimore in programs to keep Judaism meaningful, compelling and responsive to contemporary concerns.
Locally, the Foundation is a leading donor to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, providing sustaining support to its more than 25 agencies and programs. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals from other Baltimore-based Jewish groups.
Nationally, the Foundation works in three areas:
- Engaging the Jewish community in tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) and in promoting positive relations between Jews and members of other ethnic groups. In the belief that young adults are in a critical phase of identify formation, the Foundation focusses primary on college students and young adults and does not provide support for teen programming.
- Furthering progressive and inclusive approaches to Judaism. The Foundation provides support to a range of organizations that enable young adults and college students to create and enjoy positive Jewish experiences.
- Promoting nuanced discourse among American Jews about Israel. The Foundation funds programs that introduce American Jews to complex issues affecting Israeli society, including those of equality and shared society that align with the goals of its Israel program.
The Foundation provides support for organizations that work nationally and regionally in the USA. It does not provide support for local, community-based efforts such as individual synagogues, JCCs, or campus Hillel programs. The Foundation does not accept proposals from organizations outside the United States.
The Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, created and endowed by the Foundation in 1979, is an independently managed grantmaking entity that provides support for innovative programs that enrich informal Jewish education in the Greater Baltimore area. The Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education has its own set of priorities and guidelines that can be found on its website.
The Foundation’s program in International Human Rights reflects the commitment of its founders to the principles of universal rights. As President of the American Jewish Committee from 1949 to 1954, Jacob Blaustein worked to protect the civil and religious rights of Jews and other minorities and to promote intergroup tolerance. He was a lifelong advocate for human rights and helped to promote the idea of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position that was established more than twenty years after his death in 1970.
The Foundation funds a small number of grantees that work to advance international human rights. The Foundation generally supports US based organizations that address international issues, rather than those based abroad. The Foundation rarely provides support for programs or projects that focus on one country or region.
Internationally, the Foundation works in three areas:
- Advancing women's and reproductive rights. We do not provide support for domestic programs in this area.
- Protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who seek refuge in the United States and other countries.
- Supporting cross-cutting programs that advance leadership development, capacity-building and training across issues. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals in this area.
In 1971, the Foundation created and endowed the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights at the American Jewish Committee. This is an independent entity with its own governance, programmatic priorities and grantmaking program.