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JTFN releases "Where Did the Money Go?" Report

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy, March 17, 2015

The Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN) proudly announces the release of its study, “Where Did the Money Go?” which presents the results of its biennial survey of Jewish teen foundations within its network.

Jewish teen foundation boards continue to flourish nationwide since JTFN began building its network in 2006. Comprised of roughly 25 teen participants each, teen foundations introduce participants to strategic giving within the framework of Jewish values – creating mission statements, reviewing grant applications, conducting site visits, and working towards consensus on grant decisions.

“Jewish teen philanthropy is a powerful tool in youth engagement, elevating the Jewish principle of tzedakah into a strategic experience by which teens learn about the needs of others and build a long-term commitment not only to giving, but to realizing their personal worth and becoming active members of their Jewish communities,” said Andres Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network.

In this latest study, 71 Jewish teen foundations shared data concerning giving trends and amounts, as well as the teen participants themselves. While the final tally itself was impressive, with 1,800 teens awarding nearly $1 million in just one program year, the more specific data proved interesting as well, offering a deeper by-the-numbers look into Jewish teen philanthropy, its participants, and its impact.

Some of the data highlights:

No Small Change

In 2013-2014, 71 Jewish teen foundations awarded 362 grants totaling nearly $1 million.

Giving ‘Jewishly’

Nearly 60% of all grants were awarded to Jewish organizations, serving both Jewish and non-Jewish communities. All Jewish teen foundations surveyed conduct their work through a Jewish lens, following a curriculum that provides a strong footing in Jewish values to guide teens through the grantmaking process.

Israel’s Share

Half of all international grants were awarded to Israeli organizations, including to organizations that work to support youth and education, emergency services, and victims of terrorism.

Youth, Education Top Issue Areas

Out of 362 total grants awarded, 71 were awarded to youth causes and 47 to education, ranking those two issues highest among Jewish teen foundations. Special needs, chronic illness, and poverty followed closely behind.

As the field of Jewish teen philanthropy continues to grow, not only will the monetary impact increase, teens’ engagement with Judaism will grow as well, as the educational aspects of teen philanthropy programs offer teens an innovative way to join – and take on leadership roles within – their communities. “While we are interested in how much money the teens give away, we are far more interested in strengthening their Jewish education, identity, and connection to the larger Jewish community,” said Ricky Shechtel, co-founder of JTFN.

The full report, “Where Did the Money Go,” is available here.

To learn more about the Jewish Teen Funders Network, visit www.jtfn.org.

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