Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative

Increasing the number and diversity of teens engaged in Jewish experiences

Meaningful Jewish experiences are known to offer significant benefits to the positive and healthy development of teens, however, national estimates suggest that only 10-15% of Jewish teens ages 13-17 are involved in any level of Jewish activity post Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative (Teen Initiative) is a project of the Federation with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation. 

The Initiative builds our community’s capacity to expand the landscape of Jewish teen engagement through innovative, high-quality programming and increased access to these programs through five interwoven strategies:

  1. Innovation Accelerator: To scale, expand, and diversify innovative programs for teens with grant funding, entrepreneurial training, and individualized program coaching to a cohort of nonprofit organizations;
  2. Professional Development: High caliber professional development delivered through multiple modalities with varying approaches to develop and support well-trained, exceptional Youth Professionals, widely recognized as the key to successfully engaging teens;
  3. Micro-Grants: To encourage experimentation and risk-taking by organizations to pilot and test new program ideas that will expand their reach and attract new participants. Our first round of micro-grants, the Experiment in Engagement Challenge, offers organizations the chance to be innovative in develop opportunities for teens they are not currently serving. Reviewing the grant applications will be a Teen Grant Review Committee comprised of Jewish Teen Foundation alumni;
  4. JBridge: Providing a centralized resource for teens, parents, youth professionals, and community members on being a Jewish teenager in the Bay Area; and
  5. Incentive Grants: Need-blind incentives to encourage teen participation in immersive experiences and Israel travel                                                                                                                                                        

Goals of the Initiative

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of 10 communities – known as The Funder Collaborative – launching a multi-faceted teen initiative aimed to reverse the increasing trend of teens opting out of Jewish life in their high school years. The Funder Collaborative has committed to six measures of success to gauge our progress:

  1. Number of engaged teens: Dramatically increase the number of teens in targeted geographic areas engaged in Jewish learning during their high school years.
  2. Diversity of engaged teens: Involve Jewish teens who come from diverse Jewish backgrounds.
  3. Teen learning and growth as Jews: Provide Jewish teens with experiences that will contribute to their Jewish learning and growth during their high school years.
  4. Financially sustainable models: Build models for Jewish teen education that are sustainable.
  5. Teen education and engagement as a priority for leaders and parents: Establish Jewish teen education and engagement as a priority for local Jewish community leaders and parents.
  6. Competent and confident youth professionals: Youth professionals working with Jewish teens feel well-prepared and confident to do their work; have appropriate skills and knowledge to do their work; exhibit core competencies as required by their career stage and position, and feel valued as professionals in their organization and by the Jewish community at large.

In the News

In addition to the Teen Initiative, the Federation also houses various programs that allow Jewish teens to get involved in the Jewish community and develop their leadership skills, including the San Francisco Diller Teen Fellows and Jewish Teen Foundations

For more information, please contact:
Michele Levine
Director, Teen Initiative