The William Davidson Foundation, a private family foundation, was established by William Davidson, an esteemed businessman, and leader, to advance the economic, cultural, educational, and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community. The Foundation is committed to honoring and carrying forward the philanthropic legacy of its founder, and the priorities that shaped his life now inspire the Foundation’s work. With assets of over $1.4 billion, the Foundation works with partners to stimulate innovation, develop leadership, sustain valuable programming, and tackle the critical problems of today.
After a strategic planning process involving the family foundation board, the Foundation team, grantees, and other stakeholders, the Foundation is excited to launch a new focus area of venture philanthropy- the Jewish Life Venture Fund. The strategy and execution will be led by a newly created role- Jewish Life Venture Fellow.
The William Davidson Foundation is launching a new, game-changing venture-style philanthropy strategy that will accelerate the pace of innovation internally and for cutting edge, growth-stage organizations and programs focused on Jewish education and Jewish identity formation work. Excitingly, this new strategy also has the potential to set an example and spark excitement for venture philanthropy in the community.
The Jewish Life Venture Fellowship offers an emerging or established leader the ability to play a key strategic role in the planning, design, implementation, and management of the first-ever venture-style funding strategy for the Foundation. You’ll engage the Foundation board and external partners in funding promising, transformative ventures with an infusion of capital to propel their work forward. You’ll find diamonds in the rough and accelerate the impact of the community’s best ideas. You’ll also benefit from the established structure of the Foundation and be able to leverage its robust, multi-faceted resources for the purpose of fulfilling the Foundation’s strategic agenda.
This is a two-year, full-time placement for a high-energy, creative, and curious leader who likes to build and holds a deep passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, and the Jewish communal space.
This role works as an individual contributor and collaborative team member within the Jewish Life programmatic team. Designed to be an immersive experience, the fellow will be exposed to the opportunities, challenges, and achievements that exist within the philanthropic ecosystem.
OVERVIEW OF RESPONSIBILITIES
- Work in close partnership with the Program Director, Program Officers, and the board to develop, and implement an investment model for the Jewish Life Venture Fund and help to shape the overall strategic direction for this work.
- Apply the discipline of venture capital to philanthropy – including deal sourcing, vigorous due diligence, and evaluation of growth stage organizations, programs, and products, and appropriately sizing and staging funding.
- Develop an innovative system/portal for collecting, processing, and reviewing venture ideas.
- Develop the investment model and iterate as necessary.
- In partnership with the Jewish Life team, identify new opportunities and relationships with partner organizations and potential grantees fostering the growth and preservation of Jewish life and culture to drive programming that contributes to the Foundation’s overall desired impact.
- Help steward the Foundation’s anticipated grantmaking partnerships with intermediaries, incubators, and accelerators that can be referral sources for earlier-stage grant prospects.
- Write clear, concise, and insightful grant recommendations and status reports for review and discussion by the grants committee and board.
- Prepare presentations and other syntheses, engage in public speaking engagements/panel discussions and other activities on key topics related to venture capital funding or other interests within the Jewish Life portfolio.
- Obtain, maintain, and share knowledge of venture capital funding in the field, including what works and is the most effective and/or innovative ways to support this work.
We are interested in applicants from a variety of backgrounds, and if you believe you can add value, we encourage you to apply. Here is the archetype we think could thrive in this role:
- You embody an entrepreneurial spirit. You are a high-energy innovator, creative professional, and operate with a high degree of autonomy. You act like an owner by creating the clarity you seek. You are interested in pulling the best ideas from different industries to make this project fun and compelling.
- You believe process allows for creativity, not stifles it. You’re a big-picture thinker who can also execute the details. You’re experienced in executing projects from start to finish with sound planning, sophisticated resource planning, and persistent execution. You cross your ‘Ts’ and dot your ‘Is’ and it’s rare that tasks on your plate drop through the cracks.
- You are bold. Similar to Mr. Davidson, you believe deeply in the potential of people and are comfortable making big bets with calculated risk. You trust your gut and then verify to mitigate risk. You are adept at identifying the diamonds in the rough, raw talent, and innovative ideas worth investing in. You are deeply optimistic and can bring to life what others think is impossible.
- You are business savvy. You can point to previous successes leaning into your financial and business plan analysis to help right-size investments. You can demonstrate know-how in identifying B2C fast-growing and scaling ideas/companies with a proof of concept worth investing in.
- You operate without ego. You understand that your individual success alone is not enough. If successful at this job, you’ll help other visionaries achieve their personal mission to make an impact in the world.
- You have excellent judgment. You maintain and demonstrate good judgment in terms of discretion and confidentiality.
- You build strong relationships and influence people. You understand the perspectives of multiple stakeholders and strategically align interests and motivate action that advances the group toward a shared mission.
- You are unflappable. You are calm under pressure and bring high energy to building and refining. You move fast while being patient for results, are open to testing and tweaking, and are flexible in the face of changing priorities.
- You are technologically savvy. You can understand technology solutions and are proficient with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, project management software, and Microsoft Outlook.
Experience & Skills
- Exposure to, or experience in philanthropic, entrepreneurial, and/or investment organizations.
- Experience with diligencing investments, venture capital, right-sizing funding, & deal sourcing.
- Experience or deep knowledge in how to build organizations and scale them significantly.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills and comfort in presenting to various audiences.
If interested, please apply here.