Teen foundations bring together a group of about 20 young people, aged 13-18, to contribute funds to a collective pool that is often matched by a local donor. This method of granting pooled funds is also known as a "giving circle." In some foundations, teens also engage in fundraising efforts to add more to the pool.
Teens work together through a series of educational activities to create a mission statement for their foundation, clarify their funding interests, learn about relevant organizations, solicit and review grant proposals, go on site visits, and work through consensus to make decisions about which organizations to support. Collectively teens participate in Jewish teen foundations each year, granting more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations.
Teen foundations run out of many types of Jewish institutions, including Jewish Community Centers, day schools, religious schools, synagogues, social service agencies, Jewish Federations, camps, and community foundations. Early pioneers of the teen foundation model include the Community Youth Foundation at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and the Seventh Grade Fund at Brandeis-Hillel Day School in San Francisco.
Individual Giving Programs
In individual giving programs, young people establish individual “giving accounts” at the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Structured like a savings account or a small endowment, teens are encouraged to use the funds to support organizations they care about. B’nai Tzedek, the most popular individual giving program, was created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in Western Massachusetts in 1997, and then replicated in Jewish federations and community foundations around the country. View a complete listing of individual giving programs in our network.