The Workum Fund
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Continuing the Workum Family Legacy of Service

Therese WorkumElli Workum, great granddaughter of Therese Mayer Workum, joined the Board of Directors in 2005. In the summer of 2005, Elli became an active participant in the weekly seminars, giving her a renewed enthusiasm for the organization named for her Great Grandmother. Currently serving as Recording Secretary and as a member of the development committee, she has the opportunity to help shape the Workum Fund in the twenty-first century. In this way, she is continuing the legacy of service started by her great grandmother and continued by her Grandmother, Aimee, her mother Joan and her Aunt Nikki.

History of the Workum Fund

In 1917, a small group of Cincinnati women formed a committee to create the first organized scholarship fund in Cincinnati. Their goal was provide young people with the ability to finish high school and to attend college. Initially this energetic and enthusiastic committee was called "Gift Memorial Scholarship Foundation" because of the method of receiving tribute funds from interested donors. Money came as "Gifts for Happy Occasions" and "Gifts in Memory of…." As stated in the first minutes, this organization was created "because there was no other fund available for this purpose."

The committee also offered their scholarship recipients, gifts of clothes, books and other help. The original committee included, Mrs. Simon Kuhn, Mrs. Isaac S. Bing, Mrs. Harry Bohm, Mrs. Arthur A. Joseph, Sr., Mrs. Clarence Mack, Mrs. Jacob W. Mack, Mrs. Dan Weiskopf, Mrs. Alfred Friedlander Sr., Miss Elizabeth Kuhn and Mrs. David J. Workum (Therese). Therese became the President of the board.

In 1918, Therese Mayer Workum asked Mrs. Irvin Westheimer (Duffie Freiberg) to serve as the vocational investigator/advisor. These women learned that many exceptionally bright boys and girls were forced to drop out of school in order to work and support their families. Mrs. David Workum (Therese) and Mrs. Irvin Westheimer (Duffie) dedicated themselves to educational and scholarship activity in Cincinnati. They provided these children with scholarship money that assist their families and enable them to stay in school. As vocational advisors, Mrs. Workum and Mrs. Westheimer kept in constant communication with each scholarship pupil.

In 1924, the "Gift Memorial Scholarship Foundation" became a "project" of the Cincinnati Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. Though operating under its aegis, it maintained a separate code of regulations and functioned as an independent committee. As a tribute to the first chairperson, the name of the foundation was changed on April 30, 1930 to the Therese M. Workum Scholarship Foundation (now the Workum Fund).

Workum continued to broaden its activities. The next initiative focused on helping students attend college, by providing scholarship aid. These young adults wanted to attend college, but did not have the money to make this possible. The foundation was able to provide many scholarships, as a result of the generosity of many people in the Cincinnati community who recognized the importance of college education. For the first half-century of its existence, the Workum Foundation provided 25-30 students each year with the funding that enabled them to make their dreams of college a reality.

In later years, the fund provided aid to divorced women in need of the training that would prepare them to return to the workplace. When new Americans from the former Soviet Union settled in Cincinnati, Workum provided aid for higher education.

Since 1987, the Workum Fund has offered paid, supervised internships in local Jewish Agencies to Cincinnati College Students. Through this program, college students receive career related work experience and learn the operations of nonprofit Jewish agencies.

As it has adapted to the changing needs of the community, the Workum Fund has remained a positive fixture in the Cincinnati Jewish Community, providing service for nearly ninety years.

Information for this history came from local newspapers and was submitted by Elli Workum.

Agencies that have Participated in the Intern Program

  • Adath Israel Congregation
  • American Israelite
  • American Jewish Archives, HUC-JIR
  • American Jewish Committee
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • B'nai B'rith Youth Organizatio
  • Camp Livingston
  • Cedar Village
  • Cincinnati Hebrew Day School
  • Create Your Jewish Legacy (CJYL)
  • Hebrew Union College
  • Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
  • Halom House
  • Hillel Jewish Foundation
  • Hillel at Miami University
  • HUC-JIR Skirball Museum
  • Isaac M. Wise Temple
  • Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Jewish Family Service
  • Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
  • Jewish Foundation
  • JVS Career Services
  • Kesher
  • The Mayerson Jewish Community Center
  • Northern Hills Synagogue
  • Rockdale Temple
  • Temple Sholom