The William Davidson Foundation is seeking to create an environment that ensures Jewish families in Southeast Michigan and the State of Israel have access to rich and collaborative, personalized learning opportunities that teach the tradition, practices and joys of Judaism, cultivating in both youth and adults a lifelong knowledge and active commitment to Jewish community and Israel. We support organizations and activities for emerging Jewish adults, empowering them to build meaningful lives, infused with Jewish values and sharing in a community that fosters a deep sense of belonging and commitment to Jewish peoplehood and Israel.

Our approach includes several elements and activities in both Southeast Michigan and Israel:

  • Enhancing the quality and reach of Jewish day schools, camps and other offerings for young children which enable families to meet their children’s educational, spiritual and religious needs;
  • Enriching the communal experience of college-age and young adults through professional- and peer-led programming that creates abundant and personally meaningful opportunities as they make their homes, involve themselves in service and enrichment activities, and join a community, be it a synagogue or other Jewish organization, offering them a life-long sense of belonging among the Jewish people;
  • Rekindling ritual and expanding the reach of Jewish traditions, culture, and values among modern Jews by supporting and exploring innovations in congregational models, home practice, and peer-led learning.

Southeast Michigan is our home community, and it will continue to be our first priority in building and understanding how programs and opportunities can grow knowledge, identity and society. We currently focus a large portion of our funding on ensuring Southeast Michigan’s Jewish educational offerings, camps and institutions adhere to a strong standard of excellence, are inviting and accessible to those with financial need, and are led by dynamic and capable educators and professionals.

We are also deeply interested in understanding and supporting the process of Jewish identify formation for people in their 20s and 30s. As young adults who are beginning to chart their adult lives, many are living on their own for the first time and starting to make their own decisions. We believe this is a precious time in life and an important juncture for young Jews — affiliated and non-affiliated — to consider embracing their Jewish heritage. Unlike previous generations, young adults today are not loyal to brand, but to experiences, and many young adults of Jewish ancestry did not grow up in homes that taught or practiced Jewish traditions. This change from past generations has required us to rethink engagement in Jewish life and led us toward innovative programming and pilots that focus on engaging this next generation. Some of these efforts are rooted in Detroit or Israel, while others are outside of our primary geographies, in which case we seek to encourage the expansion of their ideas, if not their actual programming, to Michigan.

We are active members of a community of Jewish funders and frequently partner with other foundations on work of mutual interest in this area. We convene our grantees and our funding partners to better understand how to strengthen Jewish life and identity into the future. We also work to ensure talented, committed, trained professionals are in place to elevate the experiences and opportunities offered by our grantees.