The Ciesla Foundation

Securing support to bring a Jewish visionary’s story to life


The Challenge
The Ciesla Foundation, which produces documentaries celebrating the unique achievements of Jewish heroes, sought to create a film about businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. Rosenwald, who partnered with Booker T. Washington and African-American communities to build over 5,000 schools in the Jim Crow South, had roots in Chicago and was one of the city’s  most important philanthropists. The filmmaker and executive director for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit partnered with Giving Tree to spearhead fundraising efforts in Chicago for the project.

The Impact
Giving Tree planned and executed a memorable evening with the filmmaker, bringing together supporters and new prospects from both the African-American and Jewish communities. The Ciesla Foundation developed several promising relationships in Chicago, resulting in ongoing support for the film from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, a large private foundation and other key donors.

The Solution
Through an analysis of Chicago’s philanthropic landscape and The Ciesla Foundation’s existing network, Giving Tree identified individuals and organizations with potential interest in supporting the Rosenwald film. To help the foundation build relationships and solicit dollars, Giving Tree created a comprehensive fundraising plan that included a parlor meeting with a film screening, grant opportunities and individual face-to-face meetings.  

Key Project Elements

  • Planned and implemented successful parlor meeting
  • Coached executive director in major donor development
  • Developed and managed a working list of individual and foundation prospects
  • Wrote grant proposals and a case statement
  • Secured ongoing philanthropic support from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and a large private foundation

Services Provided

  • Events
  • Grant writing
  • Coaching
  • Project management

“Via collaborative coaching and strategic campaign planning, Giving Tree sprouted a tremendous lead for funding for The Rosenwald Schools that allowed me to really start shooting the film. I would recommend clients hire them to get the job done.”

Aviva Kempner, Filmmaker, Founder of The Ciesla Foundation


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