By Mojan Najmabadi

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Students look at different nonprofits as part of an exercise for Slingshot’s $1,500 giveaway philanthropy conference at Hillel on Oct. 21. Olin Akisoglu/ The Mitzpeh

Students from this university played philanthropist last month and selected their top picks for innovative Jewish organizations in the Washington metropolitan area.

About a dozen students came together at Hillel on Oct. 21 to vote and decide which organization out of 18 groups selected by the Slingshot Fund should receive a $1,500 grant. Slingshot, a program dedicated to highlighting innovation in the Jewish community, publishes an annual list of organizations, social entrepreneurs and professionals in need of funding.

Established in 2005, Slingshot highlights what it says are the most innovative nonprofits in North America. And this year, Slingshot highlighted Washington projects in its first-ever D.C. supplemental guide.

Funding for the D.C. Slingshot program came from Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, a foundation that aims to ensure “the continuity and vibrancy of the Jewish community.”

Students in attendance learned about each of the 18 organizations listed in the Washington supplement. The guide offers bits of information about each group, including their mission statements and their expenses for the past year. Projects ranged from university fellowships and youth groups to small startup businesses.

During the philanthropy program, students asked questions and debated factors that surrounded their decisions. Some of these factors included the age group of beneficiaries and the different causes each programs supported.

Julie Finkelstein, associate director of Slingshot and a University of Maryland alumna, was the driving force behind bringing the Slingshot program to College Park. She said she was happy to be able to partner with Hillel, especially since she was involved with Hillel as a student.

“I do this program all the time, and it’s almost always different organizations, which is amazing,” Finkelstein said.

After deliberation, the students decided to award $750 to the Greater Washington Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse and $750 to the Maryland Hillel Fellowships.

Senior Shifra Erez, a Jewish studies major, was one of the students who attended the event. She said the students chose to give some of the funding to Hillel “because they wanted to give back to an organization that had helped them a lot.”

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A fundraising handout from Slingshot’s presentation at Hillel on Oct. 21. Olin Akisoglu/ The Mitzpeh


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