Jewish Teen Foundation


Where Jewish high school students become empowered, confident, and effective leaders who influence, affect, and drive change.


If you’re a high school student reading this right now, it already says so much about you…

1. You’re not like other teens. You want to be a part of something bigger and make meaningful contributions to your community.

2. You’re ready to have your voice be heard. Just because you’re a teen doesn’t mean your perspectives, values, and opinions don’t matter. The time to speak up is now.

3. There is so much financial abundance within the Bay Area, and you want to know how this wealth can better serve the community. Understanding how fundraising works, learning about nonprofits, and making wise donation choices doesn’t have to be reserved for the adults. You can develop these lifelong skills today.

4. You want every opportunity to open up to you – from scholarships and colleges, to internships and jobs, to learning opportunities – being a part of this prestigious program is a crucial stepping stone to manifesting that reality.

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

Who should apply for the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF)?

JTF invites all Jewish-identifying 9-12th graders to apply to join this select group.

Working collaboratively with like-minded peers, JTF Board members spend the year (October through May) cultivating lifelong skills in philanthropy, social justice issues, confidence, effective communication, and teamwork. Graduates of the program carry these honed abilities with them into college and beyond, leveraging their experiences to build successful careers and take on leadership roles in their communities.

Does JTF provide community service hours?

JTF Board members have the opportunity to earn up to 32 community service hours per program year.

How often are meetings and where do they take place?

The seven Sunday Board meetings will take place in the North Peninsula (3:00 – 7:00 pm), assuming that COVID-19 related ordinances permit this. In the event that we are unable to meet in person, contingency plans are in place to run all programming virtually.

If accepted, what is the cost of the program?

The cost of the program is $1,000. Need-based financial assistance is available; please contact Rachel Halevi for more information.



“It is probably one of the most worthwhile activities our daughter has participated in. It not only helped her to further develop a sense of empathy but taught her how to turn empathy into positive action.”

– Cheryl, parent of a JTF Board member

“JTF acted as a stepping stone for understanding how philanthropy and grantmaking work in the real world. It was incredibly powerful to see what impact we, as a group of teens, had on issues that we deemed important.”

– Allison, JTF Board member



An inside look at the JTF experience


Each year, we select a small number of high school students to cultivate skills in philanthropy, social justice issues, confidence, communication, and collaboration. Graduates of the program carry these skills with them into college and beyond, leveraging their experiences to build successful careers and take on leadership roles in their communities.

Taking place from October through May, JTF welcomes 9-12th grade students of all backgrounds including race, socioeconomic, gender identity, sexual identity, ethnicity, and Jewish identity to apply!

If accepted into the program, here is how the journey begins for both teens and parents:

There will be two virtual orientations – one for teens and one for parents – to receive the JTF schedule, connect with JTF staff, gain deeper insight into the program’s impact, and have all of your questions answered.

All further meetings are just for teens, starting with Meeting 1. This will include a volunteer experience at a nonprofit, serving as an introduction and example of the kinds of organizations, professionals, and populations the JTF members will be working with throughout the year.

Following Meeting 1 is a weekend-long training conference during which JTF teens will collaborate together to cement their goals and values as a Board, engage with nonprofit professionals, and finalize their 2020-2021 Mission Statement.

The immersive retreat, and other events throughout the year, will be hosted in collaboration with teens from Contra Costa Midrasha’s Hamsa Fund (the East Bay’s teen philanthropy Board).

The following six Board meetings will challenge the teens’ world view by confronting complex issues, while simultaneously equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to create positive change together.

(This JTF program overview assumes that in-person meetings will be possible. Contingency plans are in place to continue programming virtually if necessary.)

What to Expect

Participants will:

  • Research – Seek an in-depth understanding of mission-aligned nonprofits through research, informational interviews, and volunteering.
  • Report – Share learnings with your fellow Board members.
  • Fundraise – Learn how to be an intentional and effective philanthropist and fundraiser.
  • Decide and Allocate – Discuss, debate, and come to a consensus on which nonprofits will receive funds and how much money to allocate to each grantee.
  • 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 with a call to action.

Time Commitment*
1-hour orientation – one meeting for parents and one meeting for teens

Meeting 1 will be 5-hours (1:00 – 6:00 pm)
Full-weekend retreat (Friday at 12:00 pm – Sunday at 5:00 pm)
4-hour monthly Board meetings (Sunday 3:00 – 7:00 pm)

Individual/small group fundraisers (in person and/or online)
3-hour culminating event at the end of the year
6-8 hours of monthly individual and/or small group work (both in-person and online)

Time commitment differs for members of the Leadership Council, an experienced group of teens in leadership roles.

*Assuming COVID-19 restrictions have lifted. Contingency plans will be in place and the program will continue.

View a list of our current funders.

“You can look at a list of twenty Jewish values in Sunday school and it’s just that, a list of great values. But doing this work has actually turned values into a physical, tangible experience.”

– Ryan, JTF Board member

“It's remarkable to see what happens when the students realize that their choices are between a new iPhone or iPad, and then they meet people who have to decide which child to feed.”

– Jackie, parent of a JTF Board member


Jewish Teen Foundation Leadership Council

The JTF Leadership Council (LC) is exclusively for returning JTF members (2nd, 3rd, or 4th year) who are ready to take their leadership and fundraising skills to the next level. The LC has a unique and important role in helping plan and facilitate JTF Board meetings, making executive decisions, guiding programming, mentoring their peers, and operating as leaders to the rest of the group.

LC participants gain a more in-depth understanding of:

  • Group facilitation
  • Peer to peer mentorship
  • Program development/evaluation
  • Event planning
  • Professional verbal and written communication
  • Empathic leadership

Throughout the year, the LC members will identify their own leadership style, gain knowledge from one another, and hone their new skills by facilitating Sunday Board meetings and mentoring their peers.


  • 10-12th graders
  • At least one year of participation in JTF

Time Commitment

The additional time commitment for LC members is 8-12 hours per month, which includes:

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



“Teens step up when they are entrusted with responsibility.”

– Rachel, JTF Board member

“Often adults will overlook your potential and might not always take you seriously. However, throughout this process, we have met with dozens of adults from various nonprofits who have taken us very seriously – and it feels good!”

– Hallie, JTF Board member

*If we are unable to meet in person, we will pivot from one four-hour meeting per month to two two-hour meetings per month.

What’s expected of JTF Board members:

  • 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 and communication to assure the success of all

How parents can support a successful 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 JTF – Be fully aware of your teen’s significant commitment; encourage them to 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 reach out to 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 us to support you and your teen.


“I will bring forward the skills I have learned, but also a stronger understanding of the world, its conflicts, and its peoples.”

– Leah, JTF Board member

“If 22 Jewish teens can help at-risk youth on the streets of Tel Aviv, anything is possible.”

– Ari, JTF Board member


Connect With Us

Contact Us 


Contact us

Rachel Halevi
Project Director, Jewish Teen Foundation