Community study results will help Jewish fund and federation better allocate their dollars

The needs of seniors and adolescents were found to be important in the community study.
The needs of seniors and adolescents were found to be important in the community study.

Many members of the Jewish community are not familiar with all of the programs available to them in Detroit. This was one of the main findings of the community study, undertaken this year by the Jewish Fund, which was created from the proceeds from the sale of the Sinai Hospital to the Detroit Medical Center in 1997.

To ensure that Jewish community agencies in Metro Detroit had the right programs in place, the fund conducted a large study, costing $ 86,700, which assessed the most urgent health and welfare needs. -social being of the community.

Karen Sosnick Schoenberg

“As a foundation that directs a large portion of its annual funding to Jewish agencies and Jewish projects, the Jewish Fund wants to make sure that its investments go to the programs most needed and have the greatest impact,” said Karen Sosnick Schoenberg, Chair of the Jewish Fund Board of Trustees. “In addition, the data from the study will provide key stakeholders with the information they need to plan for the long-term health and vitality of the local Jewish community. “

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit also plans to use the study’s results to better allocate its resources.

Methodology of the study

The community study had several components and took place in two phases starting in February. In the first stage, Jewish teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, Jewish adults, and agency staff responded to separate online surveys. More than 1,400 people responded.

For seniors who wanted to participate but did not have Internet access, a toll-free line was made available and the survey was conducted by telephone. Survey links were fully accessible and not controlled by IDs and passwords, allowing survey links to be passed person-to-person for maximum participation. No incentive was offered.

Scott kaufman

Once this phase was completed, three focus groups were organized with 24 professional Jewish community leaders so that they could give their impressions of the needs of the community.

Although the study “relies primarily on a convenience sample and is more likely to reflect the opinions of those most closely connected to the Jewish Federation than the region’s entire Jewish population, the survey content provides. reasonable assessments of perceptions of community needs, ”said Dr. Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, who analyzed the study’s methodology for the Jewish News.


The community study found that the majority of community members interviewed were unaware of the breadth and depth of health and social protection services available to them, such as financial assistance for bills. utilities or trips to the doctor, to name a few. Not knowing where to go for help and worrying about the cost and stigma associated with a service were other barriers identified.

“People don’t seem to know where to look for help or they might not even know they are should look, ”said Linda Blumberg, director of planning and agency relations for the Federation.

Linda blumberg

Federation CEO Scott Kaufman said he believed there might be some “brand confusion” and the Federation would review its marketing efforts to better reach the community.

According to the Federation’s analysis of the study’s results, “the low level of awareness may also be evidence that the articles on new agency services presented in the Jewish News either go unread or do not resonate with community members.

The analysis also indicates: “Before any modification of existing marketing campaigns, [local Jewish] agencies should consider whether they have the right infrastructure in place to deal with the additional clients who would visit the agencies if awareness increased.

Changing needs of the community

The study led staff at the communal agency to see the need to reassess the scope of services to the Jewish community due to changing needs.

text zoneThe study recommends that Jewish agencies pursue programs and services related to Jewish culture or requiring cultural sensitivity, “such as services for Holocaust survivors and mental health services,” said Todd Krieger, deputy director planning of the Federation.

According to one survey respondent, “some people feel more comfortable accessing services when they are reasonably sure that they do not face the additional stigma of being Jewish.”

The flip side, the study found, is that community members don’t care whether the providers of certain services are Jewish or not. These include health care options and insurance advice, home modifications, home support services, assistive / emergency or assistive technology, skilled home health care and transportation services.

Federation agencies that provide these services may now consider continuing to do so, partnering with a non-Jewish agency, or “perhaps providing vouchers to community members to access these services elsewhere,” he said. Blumberg said.

Krieger added, “It’s one thing to make an assumption about the needs of the community, but now we have data on which to base our decisions. We don’t have to rely on assumptions.

Todd krieger

Agency staff also identified several unmet community needs, including autism services, counseling / support groups for teens and children, day programs for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia disorders, family violence programs, non-Jewish housing and shelter services, mental health and mental health programs. / developmental disability services and skilled home health care.

“In some areas, demand exceeds our ability to provide services, such as home support services and senior services,” said Blumberg. “The elderly population is increasing and their needs are also increasing. “

According to Kaufman, the various local communal organizations will work together to maximize community resources and provide the best customer service. “We have funding problems. We are not going to be able to take it all. The good news is that we have some very good agencies working together to provide the necessary services. “

Needs of adolescents

Finally, the study found that Jewish teenagers in Detroit are struggling with mental health issues. The community study showed that while 93 percent of teens surveyed said they had a parent or other adult to turn to for help, a large proportion were still struggling.

According to the survey, 52% of teens polled said they or their friends suffered from anxiety, and 42% of respondents said they had low self-esteem, sadness or depression. Academic pressure and academic difficulties seem to be the main drivers of these health problems. Other concerns cited by adolescent respondents were eating disorders (25%), bullying (22%) and drug use (17%).

The needs of seniors and adolescents were found to be important in the community study.

When asked what programs and services they or their friends would benefit from, the most common suggestions from teenage respondents were tutoring, stress management, college test preparation services, buddy programs, and counseling. after school emotional counseling / support. A high percentage of teens were also interested in volunteer opportunities, youth activities and fitness programs.

“The data on adolescents gleaned from the community study are worrying,” according to the Federation’s analysis. “This suggests that a large-scale community adolescent mental health strategy is needed to serve local adolescents in a coordinated and effective manner.”

And after?

“We absolutely achieved what we were looking for with this study: to identify some gaps and priority needs,” said Sosnick Schoenberg of the Jewish Fund. “The real opportunity now is to work with other municipal agencies to meet these needs. She added that she hopes the study will also inform donors about the needs of the community.

The Federation plans to meet with other Jewish agencies and explore the community’s short and long-term health and social welfare needs to create a comprehensive collaborative plan to ensure that the agencies provide the good service today and in the future at the best cost. effective and impactful way. Those conversations have started, but there have been “no responses yet,” Blumberg said.

Although the study gave the Federation and the Jewish Fund a good idea of ​​the community’s needs, a more detailed overview of the Jewish community in Detroit is needed, Kaufman added.

It has been more than 10 years since the Detroit Jewish Population Study 2005, last updated in 2010. Kaufman said the Federation would like to do a new study and is looking for funders to do it.

“We need to know the Jewish identity, affiliation, geography, age, etc., in our community,” Kaufman said. “At the end of the last decade, the Great Recession hit and many people left the community to work. Now we have anecdotal evidence that there is reverse migration, that more young people are moving home and living in Detroit, but we really don’t know.

Kaufman hopes to have funding in place for the study by the end of the year.

Through Jackie Headapohl, Editor-in-chief

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