Jewish Free Loan

JFL provides interest-free loans ranging from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 to Jewish Arizonans for life's up & downs and EVERYTHING in between.

Location: Phoenix , Arizona
Year founded: 1950

Description

Since 1950, Jewish Free Loan (JFL) has provided Jewish Arizonans with interest-free loans to enhance their quality of life. Since the organization’s inception, thousands of individuals and families have been able to continue their education, travel to Israel, start a business, tend to medical/dental needs, experience Jewish summer camp, adopt a child, provide a loved one with a Jewish burial, avoid eviction and navigate numerous other life experiences without the worry or burden of compounding interest.

The mandate for JFL’s work can be found in Parshat Mishpatim, Exodus 22:24 – “Thou shalt not exact interest from the needy among you.” As a nonprofit, the ability for Jewish Free Loan to fulfill this biblical directive is dependent upon the generosity of donors who support the organization’s efforts and enable JFL to provide interest-free loans for life’s ups & downs…and everything in between. In addition to our interest-free loan programs, JFL offers educational workshops designed to empower individuals and help them develop skills to achieve their short-term and long-term financial goals.

Economic Crisis Response Program(ECRP)

About

The Economic Crisis Response Program (ECRP) is comprised of three major initiatives that are at the core of Jewish Free Loan’s work.These initiatives are often utilized together to provide financial relief to families and individuals living near or below the poverty level.The initiatives that make up the JFL Economic Crisis Response Program include: Crisis/Emergency Loans, Supply Bags (containing toiletries and other essential products that are difficult to buy on a limited income) and Food/ Gas Cards all of which provide immediate relief to those struggling with financial crisis.This program is administered in partnership with JFCS Helping Hands program to ensure that individuals and families receive the full spectrum of services necessary to enable them to overcome their difficulties.

The ECRP is part of our core services and does not have a separate operating budget.As long as a person in serious financial crisis is able to meet our minimum requirements for service we will serve them in some way, regardless of funds budgeted in a given year.

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

The mission of this program is to assist individuals and families facing immediate financial crisis/need and help them move beyond this situation.

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Program Description

The ECRP provides interest-free loans and material resources to the most vulnerable households in the Jewish community.These individuals are trying to make ends meet on a very limited income, but often make “too much money” to qualify for government assistance programs.Through the ECRP, recipients receive assistance with rent payments, utility bills, moving expenses, prescription costs, car repair and more.We are often their last line of defense in the community and we take our responsibility to them very seriously.

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Demonstrated Need

This program is the safety net for low-income members of our community and/or individuals dealing with a short term financial crisis.We have provided emergency loans in small amounts for many years.With the economic downturn in 2007, we saw a marked increase in the need for assistance with housing and utility expenses.Based on this demonstrated need, we formalized the ECRP and over the years have increased the maximum loan amount available through this program from $750 to $1000 to $1,200.We also found that many of the individuals were forced to sacrifice groceries and basic household necessities in order to make ends meet.The provision of food and gas cards ensure that people have access to healthy food and other essential items not covered by government assistance programs (for example, feminine hygiene products).

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Program Accomplishments

36 households benefitted from $37,655 of ECRP loans in 2017-2018

Over 200 Fry’s Grocery and Gas cards were given out in 2017-2018

More than 20 grocery bags with supplies were given out in 2017-2018

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How do you measure the success of your program?

We measure the success of the program by the number of people we are able to assist each year.As this program has steadily grown since its inception, we know two things: 1) There are more people out there than ever who have serious financial needs and 2) We help anyone that comes to us through the ECRP in some way.

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Financial Literacy Program

About

Jewish Free Loan's Financial Literacy Program is an educational
initiative designed to help empower individuals to make wise financial
decisions and understand the way the decisions they make today will impact
their financial health in the future.


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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

It is the mission of the Financial Literacy Program to provide participants with a foundation for sound financial decision-making through a Jewish lens. Our workshops are designed to help Jewish individuals understand the immediate and long-term impact of making sound financial decisions (including those pertaining to
giving and tzedakah) and the lessons to be learned in Jewish texts that can
positively inform the way we approach money and finances. We have made a conscious decision to address topics
and present information on financial literacy in a positive way – one that
empowers rather than penalizes or criticizes past decisions.  In addition, tzedakah and Jewish values are a
key component of our financial literacy workshops.  It is our belief that a financially healthy
Jewish community today is vital to ensure a strong and vibrant Jewish community
for future generations. 



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Program Description

Originally designed for teens and young adults - and
currently titled "Spend, Save, Tzedakah" - JFL’s Financial Literacy
Program is quickly becoming a key component of our work and we are receiving
requests for group-specific workshops (teens, women, parents, seniors) from
various community organizations. In the coming year, we are planning to offer a
minimum of four workshops, which will include a session for women (co-sponsored
by the Women's Jewish Learning Center, the National Coucil of Jewish Women, Hadassah, and the Money Moments program
of MidFirst Bank), a session for parents, a session for teens based on the
original "Spend, Save, Tzedakah" model, and a mini-workshop for students at Arizona State University's Hillel.  Future program goals include community-wide financial literacy workshops and a financial literacy
board game tournament for teens utilizing "Thrive Time for Teens" - a
game developed by Pay Your Family First to engage teens in financial literacy
education in a fun and effective way. 


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Demonstrated Need

For 65 years, Jewish Free Loan has been committed to
providing interest-free loans to Jewish individuals throughout Arizona working
to navigate the financial challenges and opportunities of everyday life.  The interest-free loans we make and the
discussions we have with our borrowers regarding the individual circumstances
that have brought them to JFL have given us unique perspective on issues
surrounding financial health and stability – not only of the individuals and
families we serve, but of the community as a whole.

There is not currently another financial literacy program
of this type or scope serving the Phoenix Jewish community.  Our program offerings are designed to help
provide the skills and thought processes needed to make sound financial
decisions before there is a crisis.  As a
nonprofit lending institution, we feel it is our responsibility to learn from
the individual stories that are entrusted to us and provide not only the
monetary resources for today’s situation, but educational opportunities that
will empower individuals to take control of their financial future.

We made the decision to initially focus on teens and
young adults with the goal of providing financial literacy education before bad
financial habits and debt occur.  By
laying the foundation at an early age, it is our belief and hope that these
teens will understand the importance of their financial health before there is
a problem. 

In addition, we continue to experience increased demand
for assistance from our Economic Crisis Response Loan Program, which is
designed to help individuals in financial crisis.  The loans from this program are used directly
for basic need-related expenses, including rent/mortgage payments, utility
bills, medical expenses, etc.  In 2014-2015,
27 of the 94 loans we distributed were for emergency situations.  In the first four-and-a-half months of our current fiscal year (June 1-October 15, 2015) we have made 19 economic crisis loans totaling $18,312.  This is a 23% increase in loan dollars distributed for emergency needs compared to the same time frame last year.  It is this kind of data that reinforces to us
the importance of financial literacy and the development of strong
decision-making skills surrounding issues related to money.


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Program Accomplishments

In 2014, we received a grant from the B’nai Tzedek Youth
Philanthropy Board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix for
the creation and implementation of a financial literacy program for teens and
young adults.  Working with a volunteer
committee comprised of JFL board members and financial professionals, we
developed “Spend, Save, Tzedakah.”  This
program was created in partnership with the Money Moments program of MidFirst
Bank affording participants the opportunity to experience financial literacy
education that was tailor-made to their age group.  The Money Moments educator presented the
“spend” and “save” components of the workshop and Jewish Free Loan focused on
the tzedakah and Jewish textual foundations describing the importance of financial
health and stability.  In the first year
of the program, we held two workshops and reached over 55 teens and
parents.  Because of the success of our
first two program offerings, we have been asked to present two workshops at
LimmudAZ 2016 and to develop a workshop for women that will be co-sponsored by
the Women’s Jewish Learning Center, National Council of Jewish Women and Hadassah.  We anticipate more organizations signing on
as co-sponsors of the women’s financial literacy workshop and additional
requests for group-specific financial literacy presentations in the coming months.


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How do you measure the success of your program?

We use the following metrics (among others) to evaluate
the success of our individual workshops and the Financial Literacy Program
overall:

1)  The
number of people in attendance at each session

2)  The
feedback received on the form provided at the workshop

3)  The
registration for subsequent financial literacy programs

4)  The
number of loan applications we receive where the financial literacy program is
cited as the referral source

After our first year, we consider our Financial Literacy
Program to be a success.  Our first two
workshop were well-attended and we received positive feedback from both.  In addition, we have received requests for
several other group/topic-specific workshops and will be working with community
partners to hold a minimum of four Financial Literacy Program offerings in the
coming year.


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Financial Literacy Program Series

About

Jewish Free Loan's Financial Literacy Program Series is an educational initiative designed to help empower individuals to make wise financial decisions and understand the way the decisions they make today will impact their financial health in the future. Formally known as "Fiscally Fit", our financial literacy program includes workshops, as well as online resources and social media providing access to financial literacy information throughout the year.

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

It is the mission of JFL's Financial Literacy Program Series (Fiscally Fit) to provide participants with a foundation for sound financial decision-making through a Jewish lens. Our workshops are designed to help Jewish individuals understand the immediate and long-term impact of making sound financial decisions (including those pertaining to giving and tzedakah) and the lessons to be learned in Jewish texts that can positively inform the way we approach money and finances. We have made a conscious decision to address topics and present information on financial literacy in a positive way – one that empowers rather than penalizes or criticizes past decisions. In addition, tzedakah and Jewish values are a key component of our financial literacy workshops. It is our belief that a financially healthy Jewish community today is vital to ensure a strong and vibrant Jewish community for future generations.

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Program Description

Fiscally Fit is a program for anyone interested in becoming
more financially savvy and learning the best way possible to do so. Past
programs have included demographic-based events like our Millennial Money
Matters, Family-Friendly Financials and Dollars & Sen$e: Financial Literacy
for Women. This coming program year (June 2017- May 2018) we are expanding our program offerings to include topic-specific workshops that will include financial planning for families and
how to talk to young kids about money; how to budget, spend and save during
milestone events like b’nai mitzvot and weddings; planning for retirement,
saving and investing tips and how to start; and understanding the "do's and don'ts" of building credit and how and
why it is important. At each event, we will have at least one financial expert
speak as well as a speaker to frame the topic with a Jewish lens. Our attendees will
have the opportunity to learn and grow by attending these events and will have access to online resources to continue their financial literacy education.

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Demonstrated Need

For almost 70 years, Jewish Free Loan has been committed to providing interest-free loans to Jewish individuals throughout Arizona working to navigate the financial challenges and opportunities of everyday life. The interest-free loans we make and the discussions we have with our borrowers regarding the individual circumstances that have brought them to JFL have given us a unique perspective on issues surrounding financial health and stability – not only of the individuals and families we serve, but of the community as a whole.

There is not currently any other financial literacy program of this type or scope serving the Phoenix Jewish community. Our program offerings are designed to help provide the skills and thought processes needed to make sound financial decisions before there is a crisis. As a nonprofit lending institution, we feel it is our responsibility to learn from the individual stories that are entrusted to us and provide not only the monetary resources for today’s situation, but educational opportunities that will empower individuals to take control of their financial future.

Initially, we focused on teens and young adults with the goal of providing financial literacy education before bad financial habits and debt occur. By laying the foundation at an early age, it was and continues to be our belief and hope that these teens will understand the importance of their financial health before there is a problem.

Recognizing the need to further expanding the scope of our financial literacy offerings, we worked in partnership with other community organizations to provide financial literacy workshops for college students, families with young children and women. Based on feedback we received from program participants, it became clear that the community is interested in, and in need of, topic-specific financial literacy learning opportunities. The 2017-2018 program offerings are a direct reflection of the needs expressed by community members and workshop participants.

Fiscally Fit helps fill the role of financial education that many people in the community have asked for and allows our community to begin the conversations needed to get themselves and their family members on the right path to financial success.

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Program Accomplishments

This year we have run three community-wide programs as well
as a lunch-and-learn at Hillel at Arizona State University. Through these
programs we have been able to educate about 100 community members and have
received lots of positive feedback about the programs and the desire to
continue learning. Recognizing the importance of financial literacy education for our community, we have been asked by many community organizations to partner on future events that will ultimately benefit the entire Jewish community.

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How do you measure the success of your program?

Through our success this year and the desire to continue to
grow the Fiscally Fit program, we hope to reach more than 250 community members
at our events and an additional 100 through our online resources this coming
program year. As we reach these numbers and continue to establish
ourselves as a key resource for financial education in the community, we will re-evaluate our definition of success for this program and implement additional mechanisms to measure our growing accomplishments.

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NowGen Loan Program

About

The NowGen Loan Program will provide interest-free loans to Jewish individuals ages 22-45 in areas that will help grow Jewish families and encourage involvement in the Jewish community. Through the NowGen Loan Program, Jewish Free Loan will have the ability to engage this specific population of individuals with the goal of providing interest-free loans in a wide-variety of relevant areas. Interest-free loans provided through the NowGen Loan Program will include (but will not be limited to) IVF/adoption/genetic counseling expenses, Jewish life cycle events, Jewish preschool and day school, Jewish summer camp, and other costs associated with establishing, growing, or maintaining a Jewish household in Phoenix.

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

Since 1950, Jewish Free Loan has provided interest-free loans to members of Phoenix’s Jewish community. We have more than 500 active loans and in the last 20 years, we have distributed over $5,000,000 to enhance the lives of members of the local Jewish community. Currently, the average age of a Jewish Free Loan borrower is 43.  With increasing loan requests for IVF, education and family expenses, we anticipate that the average age of a JFL client will continue to represent individuals considered to be a part of the NowGen population.


Through the implementation of the NowGen Loan Program we anticipate achieving the following goals:


  • Increase interest-free financial resources for NowGen population
  • Increase awareness of the availability of interest-free loans for NowGen population
  • Identification of new partners and strengthening strengthening existing partnerships with organizations serving the NowGen community (including Minkoff Center, Fruitful, Jewish Federation and others)
  • Help members of the Jewish community facing expenses related to starting or growing their family.

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Program Description

Jewish Free Loan provides interest-free loans to members of Arizona's Jewish community.  Through the NowGen Loan Program, JFL will be able to continue to provide an important financial resource to members of our local Jewish community ages 22-45 - more specifically to individuals looking to grow their families and/or engage in activities and opportunities that will increase their connection to the Jewish community.

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Demonstrated Need

Last fiscal year, the average age of our loan borrower was 43.  With a continued trend of increased requests for interest-free loans for fertility treatments, family activities/enrichment programs and education, it is anticipated that members of the NowGen population will continue to comprise the largest group of JFL clients.

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Program Accomplishments

  • In the last 20 years, JFL has distributed more than $5,000,000 in interest-free loans.
  • We currently have $1,700,000 in loans actively benefiting over 500 Jewish households and institutions.
  • So far this fiscal year (2018-2019), we have distributed more than $690,000 in interest-free loans - our largest year to date.
  • We are now the home of and administrative office for the International Association of Jewish Free Loans and two of our staff are officers on IAJFL's executive leadership team.





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    How do you measure the success of your program?

    We measure the success of our loan programs using the following analytics:


    • Number of loans made to individuals, families, households and/or Jewish institutions
    • Number of people impacted by the loans we provide
    • Dollar amount of loans distributed
    • Growth and diversity in the types of loan programs offered
    • Repayment rate for our loans

    Based on the aforementioned criteria, we believe our program and organization to be successful.  We continue to see an increase in the number of inquiries for assistance as well as the number and dollar amount distributed for the loans that come to fruition.  Our board and staff continue to look for ways to respond to the ever-evolving needs of our Jewish community, while maintaining a repayment rate of 98% on non-emergency loans.

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