The Atlanta Teen Initiative will provide meaningful experiences relevant to Atlanta teens to both provide a sense of belonging, and to inspire them to find paths to engagement as they grow into Jewish young adults.

The initiative is a collaborative partnership among The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association (ARA). This collaboration will strengthen the fabric of Jewish life in Atlanta. Tailored professional development opportunities will also build a more connected and highly trained local community of Jewish youth educators and professionals.

The initiative aims to substantially boost Jewish engagement among high-schoolers in metro Atlanta by offering them multiple pathways to ignite their personal interests and passions through a Jewish lens in an experiential way.

Immersive pathways may include performing arts programs or social justice seminars, and are currently being imagined for a launch during the 2018 school year.

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4Front is the Baltimore Jewish community’s comprehensive teen initiative. Based on four pillars, advocate, innovate, educate, and collaborate, 4Front serves as a gathering place and open channel for Baltimore’s Jewish teens and the adults who care about them. Here, teens are encouraged to explore their Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them.

At the centerpiece of the initiative is a new Social Innovation Fellowship which will empower teens to tackle community issues through social entrepreneurship. In partnership with Start Up Experience, teens will receive training and Jewish content to develop an innovative mindset and cultivate sustainable solutions for the social issues they care about. Teen participants will travel to Israel during winter break, to learn the story of their heritage through the modern narrative of the “start-up nation.” They will also meeting their high school counterparts from Ashkelon, Israel and Odessa, Ukraine, Baltimore’s sister cities.

4Front is also the home of several existing teen programs emphasizing leadership and social justice including: STAC (Students Taking Action for Change), TGI (Teen Giving Initiative), Diller Teen Fellows and the Teen Service Council. A concierge service will match teens’ interests to a wealth of local programs.

To ensure a holistic approach to teen engagement, 4Front offers development and education for professionals working with teens. Through workshops, seminars, and personal coaching, educators can deepen their skills, broaden their networks, creatively integrate Jewish life into their work, address the needs of teens with knowledge and confidence, and grow personally as Jewish professionals. 4Front will also train a cohort of lay leaders serving on boards of Jewish organizations to be advocates for the needs of and to promote the voice of Jewish teens across the community.

Directed by the Jewish Community Center of Baltimore, 4Front is supported by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the Jim Joseph Foundation.

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Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Commission on Jewish Life and Learning leads a coalition of Boston-based partners to transition the teen engagement community to a more teen-centric culture.

The teen initiative offers matching grant opportunities to help increase sustainability of current partners, and a new grant pool for innovative teen engagement strategies.  It will also support the professional development of Jewish youth professionals by expanding learning opportunities and ensuring trainings maintain a focus on teen-centric relationship-building approaches.

Several programs provide teens the tools to be creators of their own Jewish experiences. For example, an intensive Fellowship offered by Brandeis University Design Lab trains motivated high school students to use design thinking to ‘redesign’ Jewish experiences and solve real problems facing the Jewish community and the world. Additionally, teen offerings will be enhanced by scaling the North Shore Teen Initiative and URJ’s year-round peer-to-peer engagement program, the Northeast Teen Collective.

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Chicago’s Springboard initiative aims to increase the number of Jewish teens involved in the Jewish community by creating points of engagement and strengthening the organizational infrastructure that supports teen programming.

Springboard was created to help teens of all backgrounds connect with other Jewish teens while having fun, making friends, and discovering new experiences. Through Springboard, teens can learn about exciting and meaningful ways to get involved in the Chicagoland Jewish community through experiences that align with their unique skills and interests.

Springboard develops and incubates a compelling menu of immersive Jewish learning experiences over school breaks, with built-in follow-up programming to keep teens engaged throughout the year. Teen Engagement Specialists act as concierges, reaching out to teens and their parents to help them identify the organizations and programs best suited for them.
Springboard supports and enhances community organizations serving teens by providing networking opportunities, encouraging cooperative community programs, and collecting, analyzing and sharing data about teens. Professional development for Jewish Youth Professionals, delivered directly through Springborad or through subsidies, strengthens existing teen programs and partners.

Springboard was created in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago, The Crown Family and other local funders.

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The Cincinnati Teen Initiative aims to create an ecosystem where more programs are interconnected, initiatives have an even greater focus on the individual Jewish teen experience, and where teen engagement professionals and educators are provided with training, resources and support.

This new comprehensive approach will engage more Jewish teens in diverse experiences by supporting and enhancing existing leading programs.  An Outreach Advocate will direct and guide teens to multiple access points and opportunities.

At the same time, the teen initiative will cultivate a culture of support and advocacy for continued investment in teen education and engagement.  The community is re-envisioning professional development as relational engagement through mentorship, and partnering with the iCenter on a fully-integrated approach to Israel and Jewish education for Cincinnati Jewish teens.  Venture Awards, a teen micro-grant program, will encourage teens to imagine and create their own Jewish experiences in partnership with local organizations.

The initiative is operated by the Mayerson JCC in partnership with The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, the Jim Joseph Foundation, The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, HUC-JIR, local congregations, and teens themselves.

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Denver / Boulder

The Denver/Boulder Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative draws from a variety of best practices, proven models of engagement, and new ideas to offer teens an array of Jewish education and engagement opportunities.  Rose Community Foundation serves as the manager of the initiative, working with multiple local and national organizations to support both existing and innovative new Jewish teen initiatives.  It aims to increase the capacity of all organizations involved in this grant, offer professional support and resources to Jewish youth professionals, and put teens in the driver seat of their Jewish journeys.

The collaborative initiative has five key components designed both to increase the number and diversity of high school age Jewish teens participating in Jewish education and engagement experiences, and to deepen the quality and diversity of those experiences:

  • jHub, a new association of Jewish teen-serving organizations hosted at JEWISHcolorado, helps teens and parents find programs, volunteer opportunities, and provides professional development and mentorship for teen educators
  • Local expansion of Jewish Student Connection’s (JSC) network of Jewish clubs in high schools, along with the start of new clubs in middle schools
  • Expansion of Moving Traditions’ gender-based monthly discussion groups for Jewish teens called “Rosh Hodesh” and “Shevet Achim”
  • PresenTense Colorado, a fellowship for Jewish teen social entrepreneurs
  • Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative, strengthens the teen-serving community by offering new programs and facilitating collaboration among Jewish youth groups and synagogues;

Read the Year One Evaluation Report here. For more information about the Denver/Boulder Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative here.

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Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Teen initiative is a multi-faceted community-wide effort providing Jewish teens meaningful and compelling Jewish experiences that support them in leading healthy and fulfilled lives.  Spearheaded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with the BJE: Builders of Jewish Education, the initiative has four primary areas of focus:

Engaging Jewish Teens: through the Teen Program Accelerator, powered by UpStart, we give our program partners tools to design and launch a variety of new and expanded opportunities. Additionally, The LA JTI offers two teen-facing programs: the Community Internship Program that offers teens a paid, skill-building experience in LA Jewish non-profit organizations, and the Teen Innovation Awards, which empowers teens to bring their creative ideas for Jewish engagement to life.

Empowering Teen Educators: through a community of practice, a mentoring program and subsidized academic courses, we offer professional development opportunities, resources and networking to help youth professionals bring their teen programs to the next level.

Focus on Teen Wellness:  through workshops and trainings on critical topics, we offer resources for teens, parents and educators to discover how their Jewish community can support them and foster balance, joy and meaning in their lives.  We engage the community to support teens socially, spiritually and emotionally.

Creating Connections and Providing Resources: through incentive grants, need-based financial aid for short-term immersive Jewish programs, and a soon-to-launch LAJTI website, we are increasing ways for teens, parents, and educators to easily access to discover and explore diverse programmatic opportunities.

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New York

The New York Teen Initiative (NYTI) seeks to create new models of immersive summer experiences for Jewish teens that expand engagement and participation in “the prime real estate” of summer. It incubates new summer experiences and introduces innovative programs into the marketplace. The NYTI is jointly funded by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jim Joseph Foundation; The Jewish Education Project serves as lead operator.

A four-year Incubator supports the launch and growth of new programs and offers personalized coaching, marketing and recruitment assistance, professional educational workshops and opportunities, a community of practice for new program leaders, and field building for New York-area and national experiences.

To address the challenge of affordability, the NYTI more than doubled the available dollars and scholarship opportunities for summer experience and incentivizes participation in a broader range of Jewish summer experiences. To greatly improving the visibility, awareness and marketing of Jewish summer experiences, the NYTI launched, a place for teens and their families to find more than 350 programs that appeal to different passions, interests, and backgrounds. From specialty programs focused on surfing and the arts, to social action projects and international travel opportunities, the site helps Jewish teens find a perfect experience for them.

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San Diego

The San Diego Teen Initiative, operated by a new center at the Lawrence Family JCC, expands teen Jewish service learning experiences through Motiv.  Motiv identifies, amplifies and connects high school students to meaningful volunteer service in San Diego. is a new website that curates and highlights local service opportunities, and serves as a dashboard whereby teens can log and verify their service hours. The teen initiative offers grants and coaching to expand service learning programs, and launch new ones.

Additionally, professional development for teen educators and leaders offered by the initiative enhances the quality of experiences, learning and follow-up programs, as well as strives to retain and inspire these educators.

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San Francisco

The Jewish Community Foundation and Endowment Fund’s Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative builds on the entrepreneurial spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is designed to spark innovation to expand the depth and breadth of innovative, compelling and sustainable opportunities to meaningfully engage Jewish teens during this formative time in their lives.

The Initiative will include five multi-faceted, synergistic components:

  • Innovation Accelerator to scale, expand, and diversify innovative programs for teens with grant funding to a cohort of nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurial training, and coaching;
  • Professional Development to support well-trained, high caliber Jewish educators, widely recognized as the key to successfully engaging teens.
  • Experimentation Micro-Grants to pilot and test new program ideas;
  • Scholarships to create incentives for teen participation in immersive experiences and Israel travel;
  • Information Hub to provide a centralized resource for teens, parents, and the community;

The Initiative seeks to collaborate with traditional and emerging organizations, particularly those poised for scaling and growth. Key content and implementation partners include Jewish LearningWorks and UpStart.

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