Jewish Teen Foundation


Real change for yourself, your community, and your world starts here.

Through hands-on experience, the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) is a Federation program that fosters teens to be more self-aware and empathetic, igniting a life-long passion to help others.

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Watch Alex’s story to see how this program impacted her life. 

Who can participate?

The Jewish Teen Foundation is open to Bay Area local, Jewish-identifying, 9-12th graders (and 10-12th for leadership positions) who want to better understand the world, the people that inhabit it, and the ideas that can improve it.

Working collaboratively with like-minded peers driven by shared Jewish values, teens get energized by addressing their generation’s major social issues, all while exploring concepts, finding meaning, and expanding their horizons. 

Teens who have previously participated in JTF are welcome to apply either as a participant or a Leadership Council member. Leadership positions require at least one year of participation in JTF or equivalent leadership and/or management experience.

The 2019-2020 online application is now open.

Can teens make choices based on their interests?

Yes. There are two tracks to choose from: 

Philanthropy Track

Dives into the world of Jewish philanthropy as members of a teen-driven foundation board, fundraising and grantmaking locally-raised dollars to address critical local and international community issues.

Civic Track

Delves into pressing societal issues, seeking an in-depth understanding to identify creative solutions in partnership with local and international organizations.

How long is the program?

The program lasts from September to May, approximately 9 months.

How much does the program cost?


View a list of our current funders


It all starts with…

An orientation for families is followed by a weekend-long Training Conference at Walker Creek Ranch. After the conference, the Philanthropy and Civic Tracks begin their independent work while still interacting multiple times throughout the year.

Pick a track

Philanthropy Track- Learn everything you need to know to be an effective fundraiser

40 total available seats on the board (Limited number of seats per geographical area --San Francisco, Marin County, Peninsula)

At a glance, the Philanthropy Track board will:

  • Learn- Gain knowledge about everything you need to know to be a genuine and effective philanthropist 
  • Fundraise - Use customized tools and materials to raise funds
  • Select - Discuss, debate, and come to a consensus on which nonprofits will receive funds
  • Allocate and Distribute - Decide how much of the funds raised will be given to each selected nonprofit 
  • Communicate - Inform selected nonprofits about the awarded funds and discuss the future of their project. 
  • Declare - Present final grant decisions to the community and showcase newfound knowledge

Time Commitment
2-hour orientation 
Full-weekend retreat (Friday 4 pm - Sunday 5 pm) 
4-hour regional fundraiser (both tracks participate)
4-hour service project (both tracks participate)
3-hour culminating event at the end of the year 
4-hour monthly board meeting 
4-6 hours of monthly individual and/or small group work (both in-person and online)

Civic Track – Gain deeper insight into social issues and how to support community partners in providing solutions

25 total positions available 

At a glance, the Civic Track board will:

  • Research - Seek a more in-depth understanding of the organizations' mission statement by performing informational interviews, volunteering, auditing classes/training, campaign creation, performing site visits, engaging with staff and clients of nonprofits
  • Report - Present each organization to fellow Civic Track participants, coming to a consensus on which nonprofits to recommend to the Philanthropy Track
  • Recommend - Bring selected organizations to the Philanthropy Track Board as formal funding recommendations, providing expert knowledge to assure informed decisions
  • Declare - Synthesize all the information collected, creating a holistic picture of the causes, people and services addressed in the mission statement. Complete the year with the creation and presentation of a “Community Call to Action” 

Time Commitment
2-hour orientation 
Full-weekend retreat (Friday 4 pm - Sunday 5 pm) 
4-hour regional fundraiser (both tracks participate)
4-hour service project (both tracks participate)
3-hour culminating event at the end of the year 
4-hour monthly meeting 
6-8 hours of monthly individual and/or small group research and field work 

The Jewish Teen Foundation is guided by an experienced group of participants in leadership roles called the Leadership Council.

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Jewish Teen Foundation Leadership Council

The JTF Leadership Council (LC) provides a hands-on, deep-dive exploration into leadership and management, focusing on the development and practice of sustainable and transferable skills. Leadership Council members are active members of their chosen Track (Philanthropy or Civic), participating in all activities and responsible for the same deadlines as their peers. Participants gain expertise in:

  • group facilitation
  • peer to peer mentorship
  • program development/evaluation
  • event planning
  • professional verbal/written communication
  • empathetic leadership

Throughout the year, teens will identify their own leadership aptitude, gain knowledge from one another, and hone their new skills within their chosen track. 


  • 10-12th graders
  • At least one year of participation in JTF or equivalent leadership and/or management experience required

Time Commitment

The additional time commitment for LC members is 7-11 hours per month, which includes:

  • 4-6 hours of individual and/or mentoring work (both in-person and online)
  • 3-5 hours of bimonthly LC meetings 

JTF Advisory Committee

The JTF Advisory Committee collaborates with JTF staff on key areas that support the excellence and expansion of the teen philanthropy and civic programs. 

Past Advisory Committee Members



  • Bill Futornick
  • Cheryl Breetwor Evans
  • Davida Talcove
  • Don Abramson
  • Jim Gerber
  • Judy Bloom
  • Kathy Reback
  • Laura Lauder *

Former Advisory Committee Members

  • Leslie Colvin
  • Marcy Abramowitz
  • Rabbi Serena Eisenberg
  • Randi Brenowitz
  • Rick Levenson
  • Rose Barlow
  • Stacy Mason *
  • Steve Zelinger

* Former committee chair


Application and Acceptance Process

Before beginning the application process, read all the information under the “Programs” tab before making your track selection. Applicants are encouraged to contact the JTF staff for consultation if they have questions before completing the application. Every teen completing the application will be contacted by a Jewish Teen Foundation staff member. 


What’s expected from program participants:

  • Time - Prioritizing punctual and full attendance at all in-person or online meetings and completing all assignments on or before mutually agreed upon deadlines
  • Values -Making a concerted effort to embody the Jewish and universal values learned or reinforced during the program
  • Consistency - Exerting the same level of effort and investment in the program through the duration, from acceptance to final celebration
  • Responsibility - Acting as a dependable and conscientiousness member of the team, specifically fulfilling all personal obligations to assure the success of all


How parents can support a successful JTF year for their teens:

  • Learn with and from your teen - Ask your teen to teach you what they have learned to show your investment in their work and reinforce their newly acquired knowledge
  • Support the prioritization of the Jewish Teen Foundation - Be fully aware of your teen’s significant commitment, ensuring them to will honor it by attending all meetings and events as well as ongoing responsibilities and deadlines
  • Leverage your network to support your teen’s work - Encourage your teen to access your personal and professional networks which will greatly advance their cause 
  • Emulate the newly-formed skills and behaviors your teen exhibits - Foster growth by embodying the same qualities they are learning 
  • Remain in consistent communication – Ongoing communication between you, your teen and JTF staff will create a stronger relationship and greater opportunity for support
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Rachel Halevi
Project Director, Jewish Teen Foundation
-Philanthropy Track