Fostering Generational Giving: Philanthropists Announce Annual Campaign Match at IGNITE!
By Tonyia Cone
While growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Adam and Phil Loewy created great memories at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. Their experiences created a strong belief in Jewish Federations, which has carried over in their support of Shalom Austin and the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin.
Adam explained that the large St. Louis Jewish community dates back to the 1800s. A 2014 study conducted by Jewish Policy and Action Research found that 61,000 Jewish people live in the St. Louis area. By comparison, the Jewish population in the Austin area is estimated at 15,000 to 18,000 people.
Along with the historically large Jewish community in St. Louis comes a culture of generational wealth and giving, a benefit Austin’s newer Jewish community does not yet have.
“When you look at St. Louis, there are families that have given money from the current generation, the parents, the grandparents and the great-grandparents. We don't have that here yet,” said Adam, who founded the Loewy Law Firm in 2005 and practices personal injury law.
When Jewish people move to Austin, Phil explained, they call Shalom Austin with questions, to connect with others and to find programming.
“We want to make that even better. We know we have a Federation that's great now, but it can climb to a higher status,” she said.
As Austin’s Jewish community continues to grow and transplants begin to lay roots and feel that Austin is home, Phil said, she and Adam hope the community will start building generational wealth.
“It starts now. It starts with everyone who's here at this moment and hopefully in the future. We just feel that the Federation and Shalom Austin are the hub in the Jewish community,” she added.
At Shalom Austin’s IGNITE! event at the end of March, the Loewys announced that they will match up to $100,000.
“The Austin Jewish community has experienced exponential growth in the past 10 years, but the size of the Annual Campaign has not kept up. We believe the Federation is the center of every Jewish community and it needs to be properly funded. There needs to be money to make sure there are great programs, activities and people,” Adam said. “So there is no better time than now for major donors to up their donations. The Annual Campaign giving is currently too low for a community of this size. We hope our gift sets a new standard and that many other families will follow us.”
The Loewys’ close relationship with Shalom Austin CEO Rabbi Daniel Septimus also impacted their decision to give generously to the Annual Campaign.
The couple met Septimus when he was executive director at Texas Hillel. Septimus officiated their wedding, and the Loewys believed in the work he was doing once he took Shalom Austin’s helm.
“It was a long process to get to this point. But a large part of this is our faith in Daniel and his team and what they're doing. We just think the missing ingredient here is money to get everyone to the next level,” Adam said.
Phil noted that the couple, who belong to Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Beth Israel, designated 10 percent of the gift to Jewish Family Service and 10 percent to Young Family Programming.
“They critically serve members of our community most in need,” she said of JFS. “YFP is losing a large part of their annual budget because Austin is no longer eligible for the grants they have been receiving the last few years. We have personally enjoyed participating in the YFP events.”
Active philanthropists, the Loewys keep their donations primarily local, actively supporting the Central Texas Food Bank with a $25,000 match each year, Texas Hillel, Chabad at UT, the Fertility Foundation of Texas, including the Tree of Life Grant, and AIPAC.
Adam said, “I feel it's important to support organizations in Austin which are helping Austin residents as opposed to sending all the money to national organizations to help people in other parts of the country. I just believe the giving should start at home, and that we as a community need to take care of ourselves first and foremost.”
But their recent Loewy Family Match with Shalom Austin is the largest gift the couple has given.
The Loewys hope that their matching gift spurs a 30 to 40 percent increase in the Annual Campaign, and that more families will join them at the Prime Minister level, the Jewish Federations of North America national giving society that connects leading donors who contribute more than $100,000 to their community’s Annual Campaign.
“I also hope this sends a signal to other major donors in the community that they need to get involved in the Federation and help out,” said Adam.
Nearly $1,000,000 was raised for the Shalom Austin Annual Campaign at the March 25 IGNITE! event alone.
Earlier in the month, Adam and Phil joined 150 members of Jewish Federations’ Prime Minister's Council from across the continent gathered at The Conrad Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale for an evening with President George W. Bush. In a conversation led by JFNA Board of Trustees Chair Richard Sandler, the 43rd President of the United States was extraordinarily candid. He discussed the challenges behind presidential decision-making, fatherhood and his decision to pursue painting after leaving the White House. He was particularly passionate when he spoke about 9-11 and the need to help free all people from tyranny.
“Deep in every person’s soul is the desire to have a voice,” he said.
Adam explained that everything people consider to be great things about a Federation only happen because of money.
"You need money to get the right people in place and get the right programming in place. So it all ties to the Annual Campaign. It doesn't happen just out of thin air,” he said. “Shalom Austin is good right now, but it needs to be great. We think that the way it's going to be great is more support of the Annual Campaign.” ■
For more information about the Shalom Austin Annual Campaign or to donate, visit shalomaustin.org/campaign.