The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977. Originally, it provided scholarships to Palestinian university students for study in Israel, the West Bank, and abroad. Between 1978 and 1992, nearly 8,000 scholarships were awarded totaling over $4 million in aid.
The Fund was first called the American Palestine Educational Foundation. This was changed in 1981 to better communicate its expanded focus on direct assistance for the educational, cultural, health, and community service institutions of Palestinian society.
When Israeli measures to suppress the first intifada in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to new suffering by the Palestinian people, The Jerusalem Fund initiated its Emergency Relief Assistance Program to provide Palestinian victims with medical care, rehabilitation, food, and shelter. Since then, hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages, charitable societies, human rights groups, and numerous other nonprofit civil society organizations have received Jerusalem Fund emergency and humanitarian grants. This program is now called the Humanitarian Link.
In 1991, the Fund established the Palestine Center, an educational and policy analysis resource for current information on Palestine. The Center studies the relationship between the United States and the Middle East, with particular emphasis on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It focuses on the implications of specific U.S. policies with regard to Palestine, providing a much-needed Palestinian/Arab perspective to the political, academic, and media establishments of Washington, D.C. and the Arab world. It sponsors conferences, panel discussions, lectures, and other events and contributes to the national discussion on Palestine and the Palestinians. The Center was initially known as the Center for Policy Analysis in Palestine (CPAP); the name was changed to the Palestine Center in 2002.
In 1998, the offices of The Jerusalem Fund were expanded and renovated extensively to build a large conference facility, with seating for 150 people. The renovation made possible the establishment of a 3,700-volume library and a gallery for art exhibits. The Fund then began to organize cultural events and to sow the seeds of a cultural program. The avid response to the shows and cultural activities called for new investment in this area. Today, Gallery Al-Quds reaches out beyond its physical space through the Fund’s website, featuring world renowned artists. Other cultural activities, such as film series, poetry readings, and musical concerts, complement the Gallery’s offerings.
Over the past four decades, The Jerusalem Fund has evolved to meet changing needs. From making grants for education and community development it has grown to include active educational, policy analysis, and cultural programs. The Fund continues to pay special attention to emergency relief assistance, education, and community development and remains committed to supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, helping them and telling their story until a just and comprehensive peace is achieved.