What is the OPT?
The OPT is the Overseas Project Team, which is the embodiment of Tzedek’s vision to reduce extreme poverty. Its members are actively involved in directing Tzedek’s grants. We review a range of applications that come from overseas communities in developing countries; evaluate the projects; approve funding; and manage the resulting projects until completion…and beyond. The OPT provides a unique opportunity to see all the elements of a development project in action and to meet like-minded and passionate people
How does it work?
We meet once every six weeks to review, discuss and sign off projects. Small, local, NGOs are encouraged to reach out to us to support their communities’ projects through Letters of Enquiry, which are reviewed at our meetings and scored against set criteria. If they pass, they are then allocated to a specific member, who will invite the organization to submit a full application.
When a full application is received it is scrutinized by their dedicated OPT contact and presented at an OPT meeting, where the best projects are selected by the team. These are then signed off by the Tzedek board. The OPT contact will continue to monitor the project and report on progress every six months.
Tzedek partners are encouraged to network and learn from each other’s experience. To this end 4 clusters of Tzedek partners have been formed (North East India, Ghana, South India and Uganda) – these organisations are quite independent of Tzedek but are supported financially to a modest level so they can meet together. Also a magazine – Interchange – is produced by the OPT chair and administrator which features articles written by partners for the Tzedek partner community.
Who are We?
OPT members are all volunteers but with a wide range of backgrounds and experience. People of all ages, sexes, races and religions are welcomed. What is key is that you have a commitment and a passion to contribute and a willingness to learn. If you would like to learn more and perhaps speak to one of the current members please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Hirsh Cashdan, OPT’s Chair
I believe passionately that we Jews must look outwards as well as inwards. Tzedek galvanises action from the Jewish community to help people living in poor communities who are typically not Jewish. This not only directly helps some of the most disadvantaged people in the world but also spreads a positive message about Judaism. I have been privileged to see with my own eyes, in visiting some of the communities we have helped, how palpable is the difference we make and how appreciated it is – this is personally heart-warming and encourages me to further effort.
I volunteer with Tzedek as an OPT member because it offers the opportunity to connect with community organisations in other parts of the world and learn about the challenges they face. The process of selecting partners for funding is rigorous and interesting, and ultimately means empowering the beneficiaries to improve their income in a sustainable way.
The developing world has long been an issue I knew I should be doing my bit for. At Tzedek I am part of a team making a real difference on the ground for the world’s poorest people. Watching a little organisation and its volunteers growing and making a difference really opens your eyes to what can be done, it’s quite empowering.
I believe we must apply the principles that we learn through the practice of our faith to as many areas of our lives as possible. Tzedek allows me to have a go at doing that in an area that gets more compelling the more you are involved with it. It’s also an opportunity to work with a mix of dedicated people that I’d probably not normally encounter on a day to day basis and it’s been an interesting and broadening experience.