Jewish Gay Network of Michigan receives grant, expands programming

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-16T00:02:47-04:00 August 7th, 2017|News|

The Jewish Gay Network of Michigan has hired Kim Phillips-Knope as its program director. An educator and specialist in LGBT issues, Phillips-Knope is the organization’s first paid staff member.
Founded in 2005, JGN is a volunteer-based network committed to ensuring that LGBT Jews are seen as a vibrant branch of the Jewish family tree and stakeholders in the Jewish future. The addition of a paid staff person enables JGN to intensify its efforts and enhance its ability to fulfill its mission.
Phillips-Knope’s hiring was made possible through a partnership with Keshet, a Boston-based non-profit organization working for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews nationwide. The Keshet grant to JGN is part of a larger Keshet initiative funded by the Kalamazoo-based Arcus Gay & Lesbian Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Hadassah Foundation. As the recipient of a capacity-building grant, JGN is expected to raise funds to sustain its programming and operations as a staffed organization. A nominating committee is seeking dedicated community members to serve on the JGN board. A series of fundraising events are being kicked off this summer.
“Keshet chose JGN to be our affiliate partner because of their unwavering passion and commitment to creating a truly inclusive Jewish community in Michigan. We are confident that with Kim Phillips-Knope’s expertise in training and education on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, JGN will reach new heights as an agent of change in the Jewish community,” said Idit Klein, Keshet executive director.
The grant provides JGN with an integrated model for Jewish community change through implementation of the Hineini Education Project, which seeks to ensure that LGBT youth, family, faculty and staff are affirmed in all Jewish educational settings. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, LGBT and questioning youth are nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe and four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Through implementation of the Hineini Education Project, JGN will provide support and hope for these youth by training their educators on inclusion and understanding difference in a Jewish-values framework. JGN will partner with Hebrew schools, day schools, youth groups and summer camps in creating tailored sessions appropriate to the organizations needs.
“JGN was created to ensure that every member of the Jewish community, whether gay or straight, is able to say ‘Hineini – Here I am’ and know the community will honor them without judgment,” said P.J. Cherrin, JGN Board President. “This capacity-building grant from Keshet is a transformational opportunity for JGN. Kim Phillips-Knope is a blessing and we are delighted to have her with us, and to be working out of the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.”
For inquiries about the Hineini Education Project, supporting JGN through philanthropy, or volunteering, please contact Kim Phillips-Knope at kphillipsknope@jccdet.org.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.