Building Community Leadership through Jewish Teen Foundation

amalya-salamo-headshotAmalya Salamo, who recently graduated from high school in the Bay area, first heard about the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) from a family member who works within the community. As someone who is passionate about community service, Amalya was eager to apply, welcoming the opportunity to join a philanthropic education program that would allow her to participate in meaningful work among like-minded peers.

Each year, JTF selects high school students to cultivate their skills in philanthropy, social justice, communication, and collaboration. Through this program, students become empowered, confident, and effective leaders who influence, affect, and drive change. The program runs from August to June each year, welcoming students of all backgrounds. Despite challenges that have arisen throughout the past years during the ongoing pandemic, the program has continued to grow and thrive. Since 2020, the number of participants has more than doubled.

Early in the program, teens who join JTF attend a weekend-long training retreat, during which they collaborate to cement their goals and values as a board, engage with nonprofit professionals, and finalize their mission statement. Throughout the year, participants attend board meetings that challenge their world view by confronting complex issues while equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to create positive change together.


Amalya’s experience gave her the opportunity to learn about the qualities of leadership, the importance of teamwork and cultivating relationships, and the basics of creating and running successful fundraisers.

Over the last three years, she has brought her dedication to three different populations– people experiencing homelessness, people affected by domestic abuse, and refugee communities. Amalya noted that, thanks to the resources she had gathered during the program, she was able to put her knowledge to work and connect a man experiencing homelessness to an organization that helped him find personal protective equipment and a place to stay.

When asked what she would tell those who are thinking of applying to JTF Amalya said, “JTF is a life-changing opportunity where you will make friends that are also passionate about making the world a better place. You will learn a plethora of transferable skills in leadership and philanthropy, and you will leave with a definitive sense of accomplishment.”

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.

“JTF has enabled me to build a foundation of interpersonal and advocacy skills that I plan on taking and enhancing in my career. I want to work with vulnerable populations and greatly value my time learning from organizations that are doing this work. I have met and worked with countless organizers that I hope to use as examples and guides for my future endeavors... I feel confident that I am leaving JTF with a clear idea of what is required to be a successful leader as well as an understanding of the workings of non-profits and fundraising.”

Amalya currently attends the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, studying international relations with the goal of going into peace building. She looks forward to remaining involved in the Jewish community, pursuing initiatives fueled by the value of tikkun olam.


August 24, 2022


Ariella Flatt