Roots & Branches Foundation: Exploring Jewish Giving & Community

Guest author Alana Goldberg participated in the 2018 Roots & Branches Foundation cohort. Members spend the six-month program exploring Jewish values, learning about community issues, and using the tools of strategic philanthropy to grant up to $50,000 together. 

Participating in the Roots & Branches Foundation was exciting from the moment I was accepted into the program. Having grown up in Denver, I had heard of Rose Community Foundation; Roots & Branches Foundation was my chance to experience and take part in the impact the Foundation has on our local community.

History & Current Work
Learning about the Foundation’s origins as Rose Medical Center and how its current work remains committed to impacting and improving the lives of so many was educational and encouraging. It’s nice to know that there are organizations supporting and strengthening the Greater Denver community and its members.

Jewish Philanthropy and Roots & Branches
Studying ‘giving in a Jewish way’ began for me as a child in Hebrew school. I have a memory of being introduced to Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Tzedakah. For example, I knew that giving anonymously was considered a higher level of giving than providing charity to someone directly. I also recall the secular “give a man a fish” versus “teach a man to fish” philosophy. At the time, both of these teachings made sense and stuck with me, but didn’t have much influence on my giving practice.

Learning about Jewish philanthropy as an adult was illuminating. The process we embarked on as a group taught me that all levels of giving are valuable and that an intentional use of funds is crucial in feeling focused and impactful in the difference you are making. One of my favorite tools that we used was the deck of Jewish Philanthropic Values Cards developed by Rose Community Foundation.

Roots & Branches Foundation is extremely well organized. The path that we took was purposeful and guided by staff experts—Emily Kornhauser and Sarah Indyk. We maximized our meeting time by balancing getting to know each other, learning about Jewish philanthropy, choosing a grantmaking focus, and researching community organizations that support the people we wanted to help.

Participating in the program was truly inspiring. I’ve never been in a room of such highly educated professionals who also care deeply about making a difference. I went into the first meeting impressed by the caliber in the room; I left the final meeting reflecting on how much everyone cares about positively impacting the lives of people in our community.

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