Since its establishment in 2008, BOND’s philanthropy efforts have been focused on providing scholarships for Twin Cities post-secondary students. Funds are raised through organizing successful fundraising activities, such as the annual Fall Book/Author event, special-interest luncheons and events and the sale of tribute cards.

Needy candidates are screened by the Minneapolis Jewish Family and Children’s Service, Jewish Vocational Service, and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul.  BOND has also made a commitment to provide financial assistance to women in the Jewish Domestic Abuse Collaborative toward the costs of training for re-entry into the workplace.

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The tax-exempt status of BOND depends on our being a non-profit organization. Legally, any money we raise other than that needed for organizational expenses is to be used for charitable contributions. It seemed natural, given our previous connection with the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, to use our funds for academic scholarships in our community.

Giving away money, even for good causes, turns out to be harder than it seems. How do we know that the recipient is truly needy? How do we know that the money we donate is used for the right purposes? This is not a job for amateurs. In addition, to satisfy the IRS, we need to donate through legitimate 501C3 tax exempt organizations.

Working with a social worker from the Jewish Family and Children’s Agency (JFCS) who administers their scholarship program. we learned that most of their scholarship funds are endowments, which allow use of only the interest. We give funds directly, so funds can be used immediately. JFCS screens applicants, works out their needs, and figures out the most effective use of our funds.

Each spring, the scholarship committee meets with JFCS to receive a list of suggested recipients. They range from young undergraduates at local colleges and universities, graduate and professional school students at local and national institutions, to older students changing careers or trying to get on track following job loss, divorce or other life-changing events. Most have some scholarship funding, part-time jobs or loans and very little family resources to help them. Most have outstanding academic records and records of service to the community. We are able to help the students JFCS recommends, which is very gratifying to us.

BOND also works with a Jewish Family Service of St Paul program to help unemployed clients successfully enter the job market. One of the aids to employment is retraining, or completing training or certification for professional advancement. The JFS can give counsel and advice, but has no funds to directly help clients, many of whom are in dire financial need. Our scholarships can directly help these people become employable.  JFS social workers screen the clients, assess their needs, and enable the transfer of funds.

We can feel good that the funds we raise through the Book Author events, study groups, card parties, book and short story programs, selling coupons and Dining Club, and more are put to good use. We do not know the names of the recipients, nor should we, although a number of the recipients have sent letters of thanks. In the future, we may branch out (in new directions!) to camperships and other community services.