Jewish Teen Foundations


Offering Jewish teens the opportunity to explore Jewish values and ideas, develop leadership skills, and practice philanthropy

JTF is open to local, Jewish, rising 9-12th graders. We believe diversity in skills, experience, affiliation, and interests make each board stronger and more successful change makers. Over the past 14 years, our 750+ teen board members have collectively raised over $2.1 million dollars and funded over 300 grants to local, Israeli, and global nonprofits they are passionate about.

The next round of applications will take place on April, 2019.


Teens serving on one of the three regional JTF cohorts learn how to run their own nonprofit foundations and become strategic grantmakers. 

Philanthropy isn’t easy. It requires training, experience and a commitment to tzedakah*

Since 2004, JTF has pioneered the successful model of engaging a full spectrum of Jewish teens in philanthropic social action drawing on centuries of Jewish wisdom and practice. Each chapter (South Peninsula, North Peninsula, and Marin/SF) has a board of 25 high school students and a professional adult mentor. The annual Jewish Teen Philanthropy Training Retreat and seven board meetings are fully teen-led by our Leadership Councils and JTF alumni.

View a list of our current funders


JTF teen board members get hands-on experience running their own foundations and making grants to address important social problems.

Teens address major issues such as access to clean drinking water, human rights violations, environmental crises, at-risk youth, and natural disasters.

The program

Jewish Teen Foundations begins with a weekend-long Training Retreat at the Embassy Suites Hotel every fall, bringing together over 80 teen board members and alumni from around the Bay Area (25 in each Teen Foundation). Just like in the following seven monthly board meetings, teen board members wear business attire, meet with nonprofit professionals, learn about pressing societal issues, and apply Jewish values to work together as a board and make a real impact in the world. The exact causes to support are determined each year by the teens themselves when they create their chapter’s mission statement at the Retreat.

It takes less time than you think

  • 3-day weekend retreat at a hotel
  • 7 Sunday meetings over a 6 month period
  • End-of-the-year celebration

How it works

  1. Collaborate with your board to identify a cause and create a mission statement
  2. Raise money for your cause by reaching out to members of your community
  3. Meet with the executives of nonprofit organizations and decide which projects will be funded by your group

A youth-led program

Each Teen Foundation is guided by an experienced group of board members called the Leadership Council. These young leaders plan and facilitate events, mentor new members, and develop new skills of their own, including planning agendas, public speaking, consensus building, and active listening.

“Best use of my time in the past two years.” 

– North Peninsula JTF teen board member 2011-13

Alumni programs

The JTF High School Alumni Program allows our “graduated” teens to stay connected, expand their leadership and philanthropy experience, and create events of their own. Each JTF chapter’s Alumni Council meets monthly to socialize, plan site visits to previous grantees, volunteer in the community as experienced board members, and support the new board.

As part of our youth leadership model, alumni run programs at our annual Teen Philanthropy Training Retreat, intern in our offices, support our Leadership Councils, and lead Tzedakah Workshops for Jewish middle school students at local synagogues and day schools.

Family philanthropy

Parents are an important part of their teen’s JTF experience, and we provide several opportunities for families to engage through the year:

  • VIP Reception
    Join the final day of our Jewish Teen Philanthropy Training Retreat (fall) to meet other current JTF parents, staff, and nonprofit leaders and get a taste of our teens’ experience.
  • Parent Night
    A social evening of connecting with JTF parents from your local chapter, an interactive presentation from Leadership Council teens, and updates about your young board member.
  • Grants Celebration
    Each Teen Foundation culminates its year-long work by hosting a meaningful evening to share its learning with the community and present its nonprofit partners with official grant awards.
  • Family Philanthropy Workshops
    An intimate gathering of 10-12 parents hosted in a comfortable home to explore ways you can share your philanthropic values with your children (of any age) by starting a family giving tradition that is fun and easy to do.

The Jewish Teen Foundation Leadership Councils

The councils provide an opportunity for board members to participate in a 2nd year of JTF board service, acting as role models and friends to new board members. Leadership teens meet twice a month, in addition to board meetings, and are responsible for and take charge of the behind-the-scenes magic that makes board meetings productive.

Leadership Council teens gain:

  • Professional skills (public speaking, event planning, facilitation, mentorship, active listening, teaching)
  • A deeper grasp of fundraising and grant-making principles
  • A broadened knowledge of the global nonprofit world
  • A tight-knit community of passionate, motivated Jewish peers

JTF Advisory Committee

The JTF Advisory Committee meets three times per year to collaborate with staff on key areas that support the excellence and expansion of the teen philanthropy program. Composed of two geographic groups (Peninsula and Marin/SF), members represent a diversity of expertise, skills, and Jewish communal demographics. 



  • Bill Futornick
  • Jim Gerber
  • Leslie Colvin
  • Marcy Abramowitz
  • Steve Zelinger

Former Advisory Committee Members

  • Cheryl Breetwor Evans
  • Davida Talcove
  • Don Abramson
  • Judy Bloom
  • Kathy Reback
  • Laura Lauder *
  • Rabbi Serena Eisenberg
  • Randi Brenowitz
  • Rick Levenson
  • Rose Barlow
  • Stacy Mason *

* = Former committee chair

For anyone interested in joining our team of JTF alumni parents and Jewish community lay leaders, please contact Loal Issacs, Director of Youth Philanthropy.


Application and Interview Process

Each year, JTF interviews and accepts applications from local Jewish teens who are curious, passionate, and looking for an opportunity to put Jewish values into action.  We believe diversity in skills, experience, affiliation, and interests make our boards stronger and more successful change makers. Approximately 18 new teens may join the board of each Teen Foundation each year. Applications for the 2018-19 boards will be available from April 2 - May 6, 2018.

South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation

The SPJTF serves the region spanning from Mountain View through Menlo Park. The SPJTF welcomed its first cohort in 2004 and has since trained over 217 teen philanthropists and granted $723,000 to organizations locally, in Israel, and around the world. The SPJTF has its office in the OFJCC in Palo Alto and is led by Project Director, Beth Delson.

North Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation

The NPJTF serves the region spanning from Redwood City through Daly City. The NPJTF welcomed its first cohort in 2007 and has since trained over 160 teen philanthropists and granted $495,000 to organizations locally, in Israel, and around the world. The NPJTF has its office in the PJCC in San Mateo and is led by Project Director, Daniel Farkas.

Marin/San Francisco Jewish Teen Foundation

The MSFJTF serves the region spanning from San Francisco through Sonoma. The MSFJTF welcomed its first cohort in 2006 and has since trained over 187 teen philanthropists and granted $558,000 to organizations locally, in Israel, and around the world. The MSFJTF has its office in the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, and is led by Project Director Lucia Panasci.



“The future of our world, and the Jewish community, depends on growing an educated and engaged generation. Youth are not only tomorrow’s philanthropists; they can be today’s change makers.”

– Lom Friedman, Director of Youth Philanthropy



“It is not only a learning experience or something that looks good on college applications. You make a real change, form strong friendships and gain skills.”

 – South Peninsula JTF teen board member 2013-14


Nonprofit Search 


Upcoming Events

March 17, 2019 to March 19, 2019
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
San Francisco

Connect With Us

Contact Us 


Contact us

Loal Isaacs
Director of Youth Philanthropy

Nicoll Mischel
Marin/San Francisco Project Director

Daniel Farkas
Senior Project Director - Peninsula Teen Foundations 
650.349.1523 x8303