After emerging as a finalist and $25,000 grant winner in an online contest for donations from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, the competition’s sole Jewish organization is setting its sights on a grand prize of $1 million.

Following the tally of close to a million votes in Round One of the Chase Community Giving Challenge, the suburban Detroit-based Friendship Circle, a Chabad-Lubavitch network of local programs that pair teenager volunteers with children with special needs, placed among 100 finalists among 500,000 entrants.

The competition’s second round, which begins Jan. 15, will allow users of the Facebook social networking Web site to judge among each finalist’s grant proposal in the allocation of the top prize, as well as five other $100,000 grants.


“Tens of thousands of supporters have demonstrated their support to our important cause,” said Friendship Circle co-founder Rabbi Levi Shemtov. “Together with everyone’s continued dedication, we are looking forward to winning this generous grant and helping additional children with special needs.”

Throughout the nearly four weeks of Round One voting, the Friendship Circle used e-mail campaigns, Facebook status updates and a humorous video to encourage fans to support its bid.

“We were pleased to see the level of enthusiasm and support that Round One generated” for all of the contestants, said Kim Davis, president of the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation.

Voting will be available online at