Adelsons Challenge Grant
Adelsons Announce $5 Million Challenge Gift to Birthright Israel
Philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson announced a new $5 million 2011 challenge gift to the Birthright Israel Foundation, as part of their ongoing commitment to fund the free, 10-day educational trips of Birthright Israel for Jewish young adults. In all, the Adelson Family Foundation has contributed over $100 million to Birthright Israel since 2007.
"We continue to be amazed by the profound impact the trip has on thousands and thousands of young people," Dr. Miriam Adelson said. "It is changing an entire generation."
"I have always said that I don’t think there has been a better Jewish program in my lifetime than Birthright Israel," Sheldon Adelson added. "I haven't talked to a young adult who returned from a Birthright Israel trip who didn’t say 'it changed my life.'"
The Adelsons share the desire of the founders of Birthright Israel Foundation to help the organization transition from one funded solely by philanthropists to one which has broad grassroots support of the North American Jewish community. To that end, the announced gift will serve as a matching grant, which essentially will double gifts from new donors, increased gifts from current donors or new designated gifts through Federations.
"The Adelsons are a pillar of Birthright Israel," said International CEO of Birthright Israel, Gidi Mark. "In recent years, Miriam and Sheldon have been unstinting supporters of our initiative. The magnitude of their giving is unprecedented and their engagement and support of the project is moving. They are profoundly committed to this program and to the idea that every Jewish young adult should be able to visit Israel, that there should be no wait lists for young Jews who wish to connect to their Jewish roots in Israel. They changed the lives of a whole generation."
"The Jewish people owe the Adelsons a debt of gratitude," said Robert P. Aronson, President of the Birthright Israel Foundation. "Their ongoing generosity has enabled tens of thousands of young adults, whom we otherwise could not have sent, to experience the life-changing journey of a Birthright Israel trip."
The Adelson challenge will help promote Birthright Israel's goal of increasing participant numbers -- from 30,000 a year today to 51,000 annually by 2013, almost doubling the number of young adults able to go on the Birthright Israel trip. Reaching this new record number of participants would mean that one of every two young Jewish adults would be able to participate. At the beginning of the year, the Government of Israel announced $100 million in funding over three years, contingent on matching funds raised in North America and other Jewish communities around the world. The Birthright Israel Foundation hopes to raise $58.6 million this year, up from $49 million raised last year. Beyond the Adelson Family Foundation pledge, there has been a 20% increase in the campaign so far this year compared to funds raised in the same period in 2010.
In May, at a reception for Birthright Israel's most generous donors in New York City, Mr. Adelson told the story of his parents who had always wanted to travel to Israel, but could not afford it. Eventually, Mr. Adelson was able to cover the cost of his parents' trip, but by then they were unable to travel and, in the end, passed away without visiting Israel. "I made a promise that I would do everything I could to help any young person who wanted to visit Israel to be able to do so," Adelson said.