Funding Priorities

The focus areas and initial plans for implementation of the Strategic Framework through 2015 are summarized below. Please note that Leichtag Foundation defines the North County Coastal Region as the area north of the town of Del Mar and west of Highway 15. This region includes the following communities: Bonsall, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Fallbrook, Oceanside, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista.

Please check back occasionally for updates to our strategies.


Strategic Area 1:

  • Building self-sufficiency in the North San Diego County Coastal Region through giving people the tools and services they need in order to break the cycle of poverty.

Since our work is inspired by the Jewish heritage of the Leichtag family, it is important to note in this Framework that there is no higher level of tzedakah (a concept that embraces important notions of charity and justice according to Jewish tradition) than enabling those in need to become self-sufficient.
Our target population is individuals and families who fall below the Self-Sufficiency Standard for San Diego County, as defined by the

Our target population is individuals and families who fall below the Self-Sufficiency Standard for San Diego County, as defined by the Center on Policy Initiatives and Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Informed by the Leichtag family’s philanthropic interests and personal experiences as well as the demographics of the North Coastal Region, we prioritize support of programs working with the single mothers, transitional aged youth, families of active military and veterans.

Our sub-strategies in the area of self-sufficiency are:

  • HEALTHY FOOD ACCESS:  Improving dignified access to fresh produce for low-income households. 
    • PROCUREMENT & DISTRIBUTION: Increase the quantity of fresh, healthy and locally-grown food available through traditional & non-traditional food access points.

Leichtag Foundation does not fund community gardens or CalFresh outreach, nutrition counseling and/or cooking classes that are not part of a larger effort to meet one of the objectives above.

  • PATHWAYS TO ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY:  Eliminating barriers and creating pathways to economic opportunity through projects that contribute to a healthy, sustainable, and equitable local food system.
    • WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT:  Work readiness and advanced skills training programs for job placement, retention and career advancement. Priority will be given to programs connected to food system / local food economy.
    • FARM AND FOOD RELATED BUSINESSES DEVELOPMENT: Programs that provide resources and training for disadvantaged small business owners, including farmers. Opportunities to increase local food production and the procurement of locally grown and produced foods are also considered.

Leichtag Foundation cannot make grants to individuals or for-profit businesses.

  • ADVOCACY & POLICY REFORM: Advancing the goal of self-sufficiency, with an orientation to food systems and food access, through systemic change.
    • Nonpartisan Research and Communications
    • Networks and Collaboratives
    • Systems, data and performance management capabilities


Strategic Area 2:

  • Promoting and building a vibrant Jewish life and infrastructure in San Diego’s North County Coastal Region.

Over the last decade, North San Diego County has seen a dramatic increase in Jewish population. This growth has been demonstrated by mostly anecdotal—but still valid—evidence. At the same time, there has been expanded interest by Jewish institutions to build on their most successful programs and serve this growth as well as by secular organizations to reach out in a targeted way to the Jewish community. In our conversations and community engagement, we know that many North County Jews feel very connected to issues of social justice, the outdoors, the environment, and seek opportunities to engage in inclusive, pluralistic welcoming environments that are open to all backgrounds.

Responding to their needs, we seek to create and foster diverse and inclusive access points for North County Coastal Jews to explore and engage with Jewish life and identity. We want North County to be a national hub of Jewish ideas, experimental initiatives and dynamic and sustained engagement. We believe North County can be a model for the Jewish community about what and how a community can grow, instigate, embolden and sustain Jewish life.

Our support of this area focuses on the following sub-strategies:

  • Diverse Jewish Access Points: The Leichtag Foundation advances diverse Jewish access points in the North County Coastal region including in the areas of culture, education, gathering, relationship development, the environment, relationship with Israel and identity development and exploration. We are particularly focused on helping people live Jewish values of justice and integrating multiple interests and identities through a Jewish lens. The Leichtag Foundation supports program for individuals across the age spectrum with a focus on college students, young adults, young families, empty nesters, and seniors.
  • Talent Incubation and Development: The Leichtag Foundation recognizes the importance of investing in talent, with a focus on leadership and professional development, in order to form a durable and sustainable community.
  • Community Engagement: The Leichtag Foundation will continue its direct engagement and conversation with members of the North County Jewish community in order to identify and respond to needs and changing demographics.

Strategic Area 3:

  • Supporting renewal and bridging social and economic gaps in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s population is a microcosm of Israeli society. The city is also a portender of issues that will face the country in the future. By encouraging grassroots, entrepreneurial solutions in Jerusalem, we believe that the seeds are being sown for solutions to many of the challenges that Israeli society as a whole faces. We see Jerusalem as a critically important demonstration ground, a laboratory for social entrepreneurship and vibrant social change, an ancient muse where old problems can be re-constructed to pilot new solutions.

Jerusalem of biblical times was the center of the world, not only in terms of purely religious beliefs, but also in today’s nomenclature of social entrepreneurship. We envision Jerusalem rising again as a center of social activism and entrepreneurship. The city has become a hub for young people fighting to reclaim and renew the ancient Jerusalem. We believe the intensity and diversity that many point to negatively for Jerusalem is actually the city’s foremost advantage.

Jerusalem is also one of Israel’s poorest cities. A focus on workforce development in two key communities reflects the values of our founders.

Our work in Jerusalem is focused on the following sub-strategies:

  • Improving the quality of life for young people in the city: A negative migration of young people from Jerusalem over the past decade has sapped the city of much-needed human capital. We focus on intervening at key decision points–including after graduation from university and when families have young children—in order to provide a spectrum of opportunities for young people in Jerusalem specifically focusing on:
    • Social entrepreneurship and activism.
    • Economic entrepreneurship.
    • Arts and culture where arts bridges social activism significantly.
    • Infrastructure and capacity building for artists working in the city.
    • Young communities.
  • Workforce development and career advancement in the Ultra-Orthodox community, with a focus on men.
  • Workforce development and economic advancement for the Palestinian community in East Jerusalem, with a focus on women.

Strategic Area 4:

  • Building connections between San Diego and Israel through engagement, relationship building, and interest alignment.

Through the eyes of entrepreneurs like the Leichtags, Israel was the ultimate start-up. Sixty-five years since the State was founded, Israel is a living example of democratic society in constant evolution, responding to new challenges and opportunities at every turn and seeking to live up to the ideals upon which it was founded.

The Leichtag Foundation focuses its efforts on engagement with Israel, providing a spectrum of opportunities to connect to the State and its people from a variety of perspectives, build relationships based on mutual interest and learn more about Israel’s culture, diversity, history, competencies and struggles. While we recognize the importance of advocacy which provides tools and resources that champion for and defend Israel on a political level, the Foundation does not support Israel advocacy activities.

Our support focuses on the following sub-strategies:

  • Cultural Exchange and Engagement: The Foundation supports programs that inspire people to create and cultivate a personal connection to Israel. Our support of this area is focused on immersive educational travel opportunities that bring San Diegans to Israel and Israelis to San Diego and educational programs that promote the various dimensions of Israel and align common interests between San Diego and Israel. We have particular interest in sophisticated programs that wrestle with the complexities, opportunities and challenges that Israel faces and often which San Diego and Israel share.
  • Professional Partnerships: The Foundation helps stimulate, support and catalyze content-based professional partnerships between grantees in Jerusalem and grantees in San Diego, focused on areas of professional development and exploration that such grantees share.
  • Israel Studies: The Foundation focuses on the range of opportunities for the academic study of Israel on the university campus and surrounding communities and seeks to broaden and deepen the quality of formal Israel education at San Diego’s major universities. In order to stimulate other support of this area, in general, our funding is directed through the Israel Studies Field of Interest Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego.