The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation and Children’s Homes

Lazar Finker—Children's Homes

Through our many partnerships, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation strives to create change across generations, seeking to instill a culture of giving and contribution from all. The Foundation is active in a variety of areas, as per the interests of all involved in the organization. From helping to throw charity galas to supporting educational causes, the Foundation values the myriad ways that individuals and organizations can give back to those around them.

 

One of our most valued causes has always been children’s welfare. When we first came to the United States, we sought to find a foothold with whatever we had to support our family. From there, our “family” came to encompass our community in Jacksonville, Miami, and beyond. A big part of the Foundation is giving children the means to grow in a healthy environment and know that they are loved and supported—and we achieve this by supporting a number of children’s homes in the US and abroad. It’s a central part of our identity and ties into many of our other causes, including medicine, education, and religious development.

 

When it comes to the latter, we support Jewish children’s homes, most notably Our Home in Moscow. Our donations have gone toward a variety of needs for the home itself and its residents. Through our support, we’ve helped provide food and clothing for residents of the orphanage as well as the resources necessary to help them discover their Jewish heritage and learn more about their roots. On Jewish holidays, we sponsor a variety of activities, including gifts, learning opportunities, and entertainment. Purim and Hannukah celebrations are among the most cherished for residents every year.

 

Beyond that, our donations helped support a total renovation of the home. As children traveled for the summer, crews were able to make much-needed repairs and improve facilities. Thanks to these renovation efforts, the children were able to return to a safer and more productive environment for their next year of learning. And for the summer, residents of the home are able to travel to Israel on birthright and visit locations significant to the Jewish faith.

 

Even during the school year, Our Home’s programs accommodate for extracurricular trips and learning opportunities for students, including the chance to participate and perform with a choir. These sorts of events are integral in ensuring that children grow up in an enriching environment and are able to participate in activities that align with their interests.

 

In the United States, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation contributes primarily to His House Children’s Home, sponsoring their recent Imagine gala. We support and aim to empower HHCH’s mission of providing support for disadvantaged children and families, providing resources, housing, and on-site medical services. HHCH specializes in aiding immigrant families as they adapt to living in the United States—ensuring that they’re kept together and safe in what can be a challenging time.

 

For disadvantaged children, growing up in an enriching environment can be the key to positive development. Places like Our Home and His House Children’s Home provide the resources necessary for children to create lives and happy futures for themselves—and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation is happy to help out every step of the way.

Gene Therapy Advancements at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Lazar Finker—Gene Therapy and Bascom Palmer

Throughout our efforts to promote the advancement of medical technology and research, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation has partnered with a variety of innovative organizations, including the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. We’ve written about Bascom Palmer in the past, and their track record is impressive—bringing new treatments to the field of ocular medicine and revolutionizing older treatments to the benefit of patients. The organization is routinely noted as a worldwide leader in its field.

 

It’s no surprise that Bascom Palmer has turned its attention to potential applications of gene therapy technology. Many diseases, common and rare alike, are the result of genetic factors often outside of an individual’s control. As a result, many of these diseases are difficult to treat and manage. In the case of rare disease, some treatments may not even exist due to small patient populations and insufficient research efforts. It’s a tragedy that affects thousands of Americans each year, making gene therapy potentially important for managing or eliminating these conditions.

 

Earlier in April, Bascom Palmer trialed new gene therapy techniques aimed at restoring sight to children born with a rare genetic disorder. The condition, known as Lebert Congenital Amaurosis, affects just one in 40,000 children and eventually renders them blind. Such was the case with five-year-old Ro’Nylah Cummings, who loves dancing but suffered from degenerating vision for her entire life until it was no longer possible.

 

However, Bascom Palmer had the answer in the form of an FDA-approved procedure known as Luxturna, conducted by Spark Therapeutics. The procedure involves attacking the defective genes that impede the eye’s ability to produce a certain protein. Mere days after the procedure, patients have experienced the restoration of sight.

 

For Ro’Nylah, her recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Her mother has commented on how quickly she has felt empowered to complete tasks that, up until recently, felt impossible. However, it comes with a substantial price—$425,000 per eye. Though prohibitive, future advances in gene therapy technology could provide a cut to the cost and make treatments like these more accessible to the general public.

 

More research still needs to be completed to assess the long-term viability of gene therapy—children like Ro’Nylah can potentially help pave the way for something bigger in the future.

 

At the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, we support innovation in medicine and are happy to partner with Bascom Palmer and other organizations looking to rethink the way we approach disease.

Spirituality, Education, Community: Philanthropic Values at Temple Beth Sholom

Lazar Finker—Temple Beth Sholom

In Southern Florida, no organization exists in a vacuum—particularly any related to the area’s thriving Jewish community.

 

Take, for example, Temple Beth Sholom Miami Beach. For the uninitiated, it’s an organization dedicated to Reformist Jewish values in the area, offering facilities and education for residents. However, it’s also an organization with a strong strategic backing befitting a philanthropic organization of its scale. The Temple has spent time both redefining its mission statement and ensuring that its operational goals align with this.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation has a history of supporting Temple Beth Sholom as part of our mission. For us, it comes with being a part of a wider community—in fact, some of the other organizations we work with, such as Miami Jewish Health Systems and Mt. Sinai Hospital, are also partners with the Temple. We’re jointly committed to many of the same values that permeate both the Jewish and philanthropic communities. The Temple has spent time tying their values with strategic action—something that should be at the core of any nonprofit.

 

Spirituality

 

At Temple Beth Sholom, staff members are dedicated to promoting both spiritual growth and engagement. This is a journey that can last a lifetime, from Hebrew school for youth to life milestones and weekly Shabbat events. In the Jewish faith, great importance is placed upon developing values and learning history and scriptures throughout all stages of life, and Temple Beth Sholom is committed to helping individuals every step of the way. The organization even adopts tactics such as meditation and yoga, to encourage mindfulness and self-discovery.

 

Education

 

As with any Jewish community center, Temple Beth Sholom offers education for all stages of life. Far from sticking with one program, personnel at the Temple reevaluate programs and create content that better serves the congregation and promotes engagement. Education is something that the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation values highly as well—donating to child development and promoting the importance of early education. Adult education programs at Temple Beth Sholom focus on empowering individuals to give back to their communities and learn to teach others.

 

Community

 

An engaged community should be active and involved in any new developments. Temple Beth Sholom understands this and cultivates both a number of strategic partners and welcomes any new members to their congregation. For the diverse individuals that visit the Temple, the staff works to identify and accommodate for areas of need. Temple Beth Sholom aims to remain relevant throughout the lives of anybody that comes through their doors.

 

Social Justice

 

Balancing advocacy, awareness, and action, Temple Beth Sholom’s social justice initiative is almost a nonprofit in of itself. Many of their partners are nonprofits looking to make a positive impact on all of Southern Florida, and the Temple works to involve its congregation in outreach and recurring service projects.

MBS Brings Business Perspective to Health

Lazar Finker—MBS Executive MBA Healthcare

At the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, we welcome creative, mission-driven approaches to business—it’s why we’ve supported the University of Miami Business School for so long. In fact, we’re so in favor of these efforts that we’re taken it upon ourselves to support MBS’s annual Business Plan Competition.

 

And now, the University’s Executive MBA in Health Sector Management and Policy is being recognized as one of the best in the country. In fact, it’s not only the top health care management program in Florida, but among the 20 best in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

 

How did the University earn this ranking? John A. Quelch, dean of MBS and vice provost for executive education of the University attributed their achievement to “[their] globally recognized faculty, staff and partners and 40 years of success teaching leadership in health care at the graduate level.”

 

The University of Miami Business School’s healthcare MBA is intended as a program for veterans or aspirants of the healthcare sector looking to expand their expertise and take a deep dive into the complexities of industry leadership. The program offers a curriculum tailored to the schedule of an already-busy business professional, accommodating for their development as they grow in their current roles.

 

With a myriad of challenges in healthcare, from compliance to a growing emphasis on patient engagement, students are given the chance to change lives through their work. Given that the healthcare industry is rapidly growing, it’s important for its leaders to be able to evolve it while keeping a focus on stellar patient care. For that matter, healthcare leaders are in a unique position to influence the policy surrounding public health—a process that requires a thorough knowledge of the laws involved.

 

MBS’s program is one of the few in the country to have dual accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). This gives graduates the recognition and tools they need to better advance in the healthcare community. Their success rate speaks for itself—100% of graduates are employed in the healthcare industry.

 

Part of the strength of the program is the opportunity to network with Southern Florida’s thriving healthcare community. For that matter, the business community offers professionals avenues of learning more about leadership and other lessons that can be applied to healthcare.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation applaud the efforts that the University has made to offer comprehensive programs like their healthcare MBA, equipping students with the knowledge and resources to go on to change industries.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship At University of Miami

Lazar Finker—Encouraging Entrepreneurs

There’s never a bad time to start on the path to entrepreneurship. It’s something the Finker-Frenkel Foundation understands very well—discovering opportunities is a big part of why Lazar Finker and Raissa Frenkel found a home in the United States. In our communities in Jacksonville and Florida at large, the Foundation has sought to, among many other pursuits, encourage education and business.

 

The desire to improve education has led to the Foundation’s gift to the University of Miami Business School. Our donations created the Business Plan Competition Endowed fund as well as sponsoring the creation of a new promenade for the campus.

 

Eugene Frenkel, a 2012 graduate of the University, stated that “[t]he entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important, and we want to foster those values and create that environment for the students at the U.” He fondly looks back at the faculty of the University that pushed him and many other students to succeed.

 

The Foundation’s fund has financed the school’s annual business plan competition, which encourages entrepreneurial plans across a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Students may submit their plans as individuals or teams, illustrating the value provided by their business, its market space, and logistical plans. Judges consist of entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals with a good knowledge of the venture capital sphere.

 

After the first written proposals are judged, the strongest teams advance to the semifinals, which consists of an oral presentation detailing their plans. Contestants are evaluated based on both the viability of their business model and their professionalism when presenting. The judges pick winners based primarily on how likely they would be to invest in the given venture.

 

Prizes consist of funds for contestants to start their ventures—in the case of past winner Therion PC, the winnings enabled them to build a website to promote their products and diversify their offerings. Another past winner, Kelly Pierce, stated that “[w]inning the Business Plan Competition opened doors I’ve been leaning on [ever since].”

 

The competition encourages entrants to consider every aspect of their business and to treat it as an actual venture capital pitch. Contestants should be prepared to not only present the value of their business but to answer potentially difficult questions about the amount of financing that they need and challenges associated with their business models. In fact, viability is worth 50% of the score for the competition.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation eagerly anticipate this year’s entries and look forward to many more years of supporting this competition.

 

Visit the Business Plan Competition website for more details. Entries close on March 19.

Chabad Celebrates New Center With Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation

 

Lazar Finker—Chabad Celebrates New Center

With the Purim festival right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to celebrate with the opening of Chabad of Southside’s new center. The grand opening, which occurred on Sunday, February 24, is the culmination of years of vision and planning. We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are proud to have given our support to Chabad, helping them realize their dream.

 

The new facility boasts new educational areas for students enrolled in at Ganeinu Preschool and Chabad’s religious schools. More areas for prayer and religious practice are also featured, along with kosher cafes and lounges for students and members of the community. The ribbon-cutting included representatives from the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation as well as the Shapiro and Tabacinic families, all of whom helped make the new center possible.

 

Chabad has always been a movement defined not just by religion, but by its diversity. Dating back to the 18th century, the movement sought to offer education, religious services, and community for adherents of Hasidic Judaism.

 

Even today, a multitude of centers across every continent get by with the support of the surrounding community. Chabad centers strive to provide top-tier education, giving children a sense of pride in their Jewish roots and making learning religion relatable for all. For others, Chabad offers resources to help individuals expand their faith or even find kosher food options in the community.

 

Though it is one of many similar stories, Chabad of Southside embraces its roots as a small organization that thrives on and appreciates the support of the citizens of Jacksonville and the surrounding communities. In Chabad’s early days, Rabbi Shmuli and Chana Novack sought to establish the center wherever they could find space—whether in rented meeting rooms or local libraries. Soon, the two attracted dozens of members with services and educational events, culminating in the creation of a permanent center. This was when Lazar Finker first became involved with the organization, commissioning a new Torah scroll and supporting Chabad as they expanded services and facilities alike.

 

Through the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, Lazar has helped Chabad grow even further over the years as part of our mission. The ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the Finker-Frenkel Chabad synagogue center represents more than just a donation—it symbolizes a lasting partnership that will continue years from now.

 

We’re excited to see both the progress made by Chabad and the potential of this new facility to aid in the longterm health of the Jewish community in Jacksonville.

Make-A-Wish and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation

Lazar Finker—Make-A-Wish And FFFF

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is well-known across the United States for its mission: to provide incredible experiences to young people facing life-threatening conditions. Even so, the scope of the organization goes far beyond what many know about it, including offices in 45 countries outside of the United States. Coupled with a wide variety of external buy-in from celebrities and organizations, and Make-A-Wish starts to look less like a nonprofit and more like a social movement.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are no strangers to the good that the Make-A-Wish Foundation can do. In fact, our organization was presented with the Philanthropist of the Year award at Make-A-Wish’s America conference in 2017. Presented by Southern Florida board chair Shareef Malnik, the award was a representation of a long-term partnership between the two Foundations.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation both sponsored the Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball and provided a $6 million pledge—the largest in Southern Florida’s history. The donation went toward Make-A-Wish’s endowment and capital campaign as well as the organization’s future Wish House.

 

But Southern Florida is just one branch of a vast and highly successful organization. In fact, the Foundation saw its start in Arizona in 1980. At the time, Chris Grecius was being treated to leukemia while holding onto his dream of becoming a police officer. Family friend Tommy Austin looked into ways to give Chris some comfort in the days to come, not anticipating the impact that his story would have.

 

The Arizona Department of Public Safety learned of his wish and arranged for a day in which Chris flew in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. He even earned his motorcycle officer’s wings, given to him while in the hospital.

 

Though Chris passed soon after that, his story became the start of something larger. Arizona DPS officers convened with the intent of creating similarly enjoyable experiences for children. From humble donations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grew into what it is now—with numerous celebrities stepping up to pitch in and make a difference in the lives of children.

 

Far from once-and-done events, wishes can inspire a community to further action, drive awareness and medical research, or give the children the strength needed to carry on through difficult treatments.
Visit wish.org to explore some of the Foundation’s stories, connect with a chapter in your area, or make a donation of your own.

How The Police Officer Assistance Trust Does Philanthropy Right

Lazar Finker—Police Officer Assistance Trust

Every nonprofit needs a cause—and the cause of the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) is simple: Serve those who serve.

 

For the Miami-Dade area, police strive to keep the area happy and protected. However, the line of duty isn’t always safe; and tragedies can affect officers and their families. One such incident—the killing of a police officer in Detroit—set off a chain of events that would lead to the formation of POAT.

 

The death of the Detroit officer led his friend, William M. Packer, to create the 100 Club—in which he encouraged 100 friends and family to donate to a fund for the fallen officer. After an overwhelming success that allowed the officer’s widow to recover from the tragedy, the club grew, starting chapters all across the nation. Eventually, it evolved into the 200 Club, which became the first major donor for POAT.

 

Since its formation, the organization has been a positive presence in officers’ lives. In the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, POAT helped officers rebuild and dedicate more of their time to helping others in need. For injuries or for those that make the ultimate sacrifice, the nonprofit assists with counseling, medical, and funeral expenses.

 

The beauty of POAT is that it addresses a previously-unaddressed need. For officers going through difficult times, the lack of support can often be difficult, even with financial assistance. Having a community to both give extra and provide resources for the families of officers is imperative in mitigating hardship.

 

It’s a nonprofit that knows what it is. By keeping the organization local and centered around a single task, POAT has not lost sight of its mission or the families that it serves. As a result of its dedication, it has provided over $6 million to families in need through private and corporate donations, payroll donations, and fundraisers. Some events, including the recent Cops Ride For Kids, are intended to both generate funding and brings members of the community together, including those whose lives have been touched by POAT.

 

And it helps bridge a difficult gap—according to Miami-Dade Police Director and POAT President Juan Perez, many officers have trouble asking for help. Through the organization, officers always know that they have a support circle to turn to in times of hardship.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, in keeping with our mission of community engagement, is an ardent supporter of the Police Officer Assistance Trust. We’re proud to assist our Florida officers and support the work that they do in keeping the area safe. Visit poat.org for more information on how you can donate to this worthy organization.

The Imagine Gala and His House

Lazar Finker—The Imagine Gala and His House

Taking place on November 3, the Imagine Charity Gala brought together His House Children’s Home (HHCH) and its supporters to celebrate the organization’s past accomplishments and look toward the future. The event featured musical performances, a live auction, and a presentation on HHCH’s “Forever Home” project. Forever Home is a new campus slated to be completed in 2020, featuring brand-new facilities intended to enhance the lives of children in the organization’s care. It includes residential and recreational facilities as well as administrative buildings and a school.

 

“Expansion into the new facility is part of His House’s commitment to increasing capacity to keeping sibling groups together,” said Executive Director Silvia Smith-Torres on the new campus.

 

The Gala also featured stories from some of the individuals affected by the care of HHCH. Usa Rodriguez spoke on the impact that the organization had made on him and his brothers. Though the foster care system was difficult for them, they fondly recall the efforts of HHCH to keep them together and happy during those trying times. Now, all of the brothers are employed and continue to work toward improving themselves and others.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation was proud to sponsor this event. Our organization, dedicated to the cause of children’s welfare, has supported other homes in the past as they provide safe environments and education for their residents. The Foundation is proud to see the progress made by His House and is excited to support their future initiatives.

 

Since 1989, His House Children’s Home has been dedicated to the cause of ensuring a happy upbringing for children. All children deserve the chance to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, and HHCH provides the resources necessary to be a pillar of the foster care system. Based in Miami, this faith-based organization specializes in caring for children in state custody.

 

HHCH also provides programs for teen mothers, ensuring that they have a safe environment to raise their child. The program includes education for new mothers as well as social services and private lodging for them and their children. Initiatives like these are how His House adapts to the community’s wide variety of care needs.

 

At-risk children deserve a place to grow, and His House Children’s Home is proud to create a productive environment for them. We at the Finker-Frenkel Family foundation look forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredible organization.

 

The Value (And Challenge) Of Microgrants

Lazar Finker—The Value and Challenge of Microgrants

In the philanthropy world, much of the attention is given to larger grants—leaving many smaller nonprofits searching for their big break in the form of a generous donor. However, smaller grants can fill a niche for organizations to supplement their other sources of funding. Additionally, nonprofits that are just starting out can find value in little donations.

 

The unfortunate side of microgrants is that, while they are easy to raise and solicit from donors, they are often tightly restricted. Reporting on these donations can also eat up time and overhead better spent putting funds to good use. However, savvy nonprofits can learn to implement them to the best of their ability and come out ahead.

 

The easy acquisition of microgrants allows for more niche nonprofits to arise. These organizations might deal with a very specific community issue or assist in underserved populations without having to worry “making it big” with sizable donations.

 

One such example is the Sparkgrants program, which provides microgrants to individuals working toward social and community change in Pierce County, Tacoma. The brainchild of a 2011 community gathering, Sparkgrants focuses on individual funding but can often lead to early-stage nonprofits getting off of the ground. These sorts of initiatives can be valuable not only for the actual money but for introducing small-scale philanthropic efforts to larger communities.

 

For smaller nonprofits, microgrants can help organizations expand their reach and scale in a manageable way. Oftentimes, these programs can expose like-minded philanthropists to each other and foster the creation of joint efforts that can better serve specific interests. Nonprofit alliances, though not often discussed, are a great way to circumvent the competitive environment of the industry. Though many organizations fight for the attention of donors, using microgrants to build these connections can allow for all to reach a wider audience and to address weak points in the scope of partners.

 

Microgrants can also be leveraged to help a specific mission, given to organizations and businesses that contribute. For instance, a food waste initiative promoted by the New York Department of Sanitation offered funds and other incentives to businesses that addressed this specific problem. This approach is beneficial in that it allows for direct change on part of those that can make the most impact without the need for the “middleman” of a nonprofit.

 

Even so, don’t expect nonprofits to go away when it comes to providing direct support. And microgrants can serve as a way to fill in the niche needs of nonprofits and cause the rise of new organizations for which there is a need. While it can be challenging for nonprofits to survive solely on microgrants, they provide a strategic need that any savvy professional in the industry should recognize.