Jewish Teen Foundation


There is no better time to affect real change for yourself, your community, and your world.

Through hands-on experience, the Federation’s Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) program fosters self-awareness and empathy, igniting a life-long passion to help others. Applications to join the JTF 2020-2021 Board are open now!

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

Who can serve on the JTF Board?

JTF is open to Bay Area local, Jewish-identifying, 9-12th graders.

Working collaboratively with like-minded peers driven by shared Jewish values, teens learn new skillsets to address their generation’s major social issues, all while exploring how these issues affect individuals, learning about nonprofits, fundraising locally-raised dollars to expand their knowledge about the grantmaking process.

Teens who have previously served on the JTF Board are welcome to apply either as a Board member or as a Leadership Council member. Leadership Council positions require at least one year of prior participation in JTF, as you will be responsible for planning the Sunday Board Meetings, mentoring Board members, and making executive decisions on behalf of the Board.

How long is the program?

The program runs from October to May.

Will it count towards community service?

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

Where will the meetings take place?

Sunday Board meetings will take place in the Peninsula/San Francisco, Covid-19 related ordinances permitting. In the event that we are not able to meet in person, contingency plans are in place to run all programming virtually.

How much does the program cost?


Financial assistance available; please contact Rachel Halevi for more information.

View a list of our current funders.

“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



It all begins with…

A virtual orientation will welcome parents and then teens (separately) to connect with JTF staff, receive your schedule for the year, and have your questions answered.

Meeting 1 will kick off with a service day/immersive at a nonprofit, serving as an introduction and example of the kinds of organizations, professionals, and populations you will be working with throughout the year.

Following Meeting 1 is a weekend-long training conference during which you will cement your goals and values as a Board, engage with nonprofit professionals, and finalize your 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 subsequent six Board meetings will challenge your world view by confronting complex issues, while simultaneously equipping them with you skills to lead yourself and others to contribute to positive social 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 pm – 6:00 pm)
Full-weekend retreat (Friday at 12:00 pm – Sunday at 5:00 pm)
4-hour monthly Board meetings (Sunday 3:00 pm – 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)

JTF Board members are guided by an experienced group of teens in leadership roles called the Leadership Council.

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


“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) provides a deep-dive exploration into leadership, focusing on the development and practice of sustainable and transferable skills. LC members are active Board members participating in all activities and responsible for the same deadlines as their peers. 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, teens 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.


Application and Acceptance Process

Before beginning the application process, read all the information under the “Programs” tab. Applicants are encouraged to contact the JTF staff for consultation if they have questions before starting the process. After submitting an application, all applicants will be contacted by a JTF staff member.

There are 30 available seats on the Board. JTF staff will review applications and admission will be conducted on a rolling basis.


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


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Contact us

Rachel Halevi
Project Director, Jewish Teen Foundation