2021 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT
Thank you for your steadfast prayers, involvement, and financial support. In 2021, Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) began the second decade of our educational mission for interfaith peace and reconciliation. The year ended on a robust note with strong fund-raising, staff-recruitment, and program development. In both the Holy Lands and the United States, COVID-19 disrupted our educational programs throughout the year, leading to distance learning for youth and cancelled adult and pilgrimage programs. Widespread violence in Israel and Palestine during May 2021 made person-to-person peacebuilding even more difficult.
Despite these significant challenges, JPB and its Israeli affiliate JPBLD not only continued its school and summer programs but also expanded the EXCEL teacher-training institute and launched preparations for a women’s leadership and economic development initiative in the Palestinian West Bank. Huge strides were made in preparing the financial, human, and training resources necessary for active and effective peacebuilding programs in 2022 and beyond. Here are a few highlights:
Operations: In 2021, our peace and leadership programs concentrated on three areas: 1) offering interfaith school youth programs in Israel and Houston (impacting approx. 3,000 teens), 2) operating intensive, residential summer institutes near Tel Aviv for teens, ages 14 – 18, and 3) expanding the EXCEL teacher-training institute for Arab and Jewish educators in Israel. Much of our other programming for adults (lectures, preaching, and pilgrimage) was cancelled due to COVID-19.
JPB Staff: The USA-based staff consisted an Executive Director (myself), a Program Director (Deacon Jack Karn), a Bookkeeper (Bonnie Rodriguez) and an Intern (Noelle Boyd followed by Aline Masengesho). All employees worked on a part-time basis. Thanks to the active support of the board and volunteers, we ably maintained this lean staff structure and had out-sized impact.
Fundraising: Active fundraising and grant writing allowed JPB to see $400,000 of donations plus $18,000 of earned income in 2021. This marks a 26% increase over 2020 ($330,852).
JPBLD Non-Profit Affiliate: Much of our ministry in Israel and Palestine was conducted by our non-profit affiliate in Israel, JPB Leadership Development (JPBLD). Its staff includes two Jerusalem area Co-Directors, Zak Adileh and Vallie Rourke Miller, along with a Senior Educator, Sarah Benazera, and a Bookkeeper, Rana Khoury.
Program Development: JPB staff worked on the development of three programs: 1) Alumnae/i programs, 2) EXCEL interfaith Teacher-Training program, and 3) the MyChoice Palestinian Women’s Leadership Empowerment program. Our staff improved the format, content and attendance of our alumni offerings. The EXCEL summer program now has three levels: beginner (in Jerusalem), intermediate (in Nazareth) and advanced (in Cambridge). That along with the development of a JPB curriculum for EXCEL grads (i.e. Israeli public school teachers) to teach in their classrooms will fuel JPB: 1) to scale up our impact on the Israeli public school population, 2) to affect systemic change, and 3) to empower local peacebuilders without JPB hiring dozens of additional educators. Finally, the consultants completed the design and planning phase of the MyChoice program.
Prognosis: Today, JPB stands ready to make 2022 a year to remember. We are well prepared to advance our mission in every identified programmatic field, especially with teachers, women and youth. How the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our programs in 2022 remains to be seen. Come what may, our mission will demand the best efforts of both the JPB staff and board as we work together with donors and volunteers to respond to the human need and the accompanying operational costs.
Fr. Nicholas T. Porter