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Jewish Teen Funders Network Announces New Teen Foundation Boards

Originally appeared in eJewishPhilanthropy, March 8, 2015

The Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN), the central resource for the quickly growing field of Jewish teen philanthropy, has selected three new grantees – from three different countries – to the second cohort of its Teen Foundation Board Incubator: Combined Jewish Philanthropies in partnership with Gann Academy and Hebrew College in Boston, MA.; Australian Jewish Funders in Melbourne, Australia; and UJA Federation’s Centre for Jewish Education in Toronto, Canada.

A project of JTFN funded by Laura Lauder and the Maimonides Fund, the Foundation Board Incubator brings the success and impact of Jewish teen philanthropy programs across North America into cities around the world. Teens engage in a group grantmaking process guided by Jewish values and have opportunities to gain new leadership skills while employing the principles of strategic philanthropy. According to Ricky Shechtel, co-founder of JTFN, “The powerful and positive impact of Jewish teen philanthropy, both for the teens and the grantees, is one of the best-kept secrets in Jewish youth engagement.”

In the Incubator, JTFN builds upon a decade of experience, working in close partnership with local host institutions to develop high investment and high intensity community-based programs that introduce teens to collective grantmaking. With more than 100 teen foundations already based in synagogues, summer camps, and day schools across North America, the Foundation Board Incubator focuses on launching teen foundations in community organizations, such as federations and community foundations, which allow for building pluralistic and diverse teen boards.

Communities participating in the Incubator benefit from partnership in development and implementation of their programs, along with coaching on opportunities for scaling and growth. In addition to operational support, JTFN provides a curricular framework for the teen foundation board, from orientation and mission statement development to fundraising and learning about nonprofit operations, proposal review and site visits, and ultimately a consensus-based allocations process. JTFN also provides guidance and support on program components including family programming, teen leadership experiences and alumni programming, which are all adaptable to reflect the culture of each community.

“Teens make philanthropy a blast,” said co-funder Laura Lauder. “They love dissecting grant proposals and discussing the worthy distribution of every dime. Teens learn how to build consensus and incorporate Jewish values and texts all along the way. We are creating real leaders and philanthropists.”

Boston, Melbourne, and Toronto join the first cohort of the Foundation Board Incubator – San Diego Jewish Community Foundation and Detroit’s The Jewish Fund – which launched last year. JTFN plans to partner with up to five additional communities through the Foundation Board Incubator over the coming years.

For more information about JTFN’s Teen Foundation Board Incubator, click here.

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