The New York-based grant maker JEHT Foundation, a major funder in criminal justice, will abruptly closed its doors because its primary donor’s money was lost by Bernard Madoff, who has been charged with operating a scheme that bilked at least $20 billion from investors. Youth Today reports that JEHT’s two main donors, real estate heiress Jeanne Levy-Church and her husband Kenneth Levy-Church, were among those whose money was managed by Madoff. The foundation’s closure jeopardizes a number of juvenile justice-related projects.
JEHT, with a staff of 24, has made grants in four main areas: criminal justice, juvenile justice, international justice, and fair and participatory elections. JEHT made $26.4 million in grants during fiscal 2006. Since it was founded in 2000, it has given away more than $62 million. “They filled a big niche,” says David Steinhart, director of the juvenile justice program at Bolinas, Calif.-based Commonweal, a JEHT grantee. He credits JEHT for wading into policy and advocacy work that was often controversial and required careful consideration of the lobbying rules for foundations and nonprofits. “There are not many foundations that do it that way,” he says. The loss of JEHT’s assets means that any payments owed to grantees, even for current-year grants, will not be made. Major projects supported by JEHT include the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and Models for Change, the MacArthur Foundation’s juvenile justice venture that aims at major system reform in four core states.