The Jewish Teen Foundation – What’s New? Just About Everything!

Since its creation in San Francisco fifteen years ago, the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) has been so successful that the program has been replicated in cities throughout the country. “It changed the face of Jewish education,” said Loal Isaacs, the Federation’s Director of Youth Philanthropy. “But as we all know, we must progress and evolve, especially when talking about teens.”

Standing on the shoulders of the leaders who preceded him, Loal and his team at the Federation have completely reimagined and restructured the JTF— taking it to the next level.

Several months of research and consultation with community leaders, parents, and program alumni prompted Isaacs and his team to strip down the JTF to its essential components — what he refers to as its load bearing walls. “The idea was to find the pieces of the program that were holding up the integrity of the entire structure.” They started with a list of twenty attributes and narrowed it down to less than three.

“What we discovered was that almost every single teen who participated in the program fell in love with one of two things: raising money for charity or the hands-on work these nonprofits were doing.” That revelation was the basis upon which two parallel but complimentary tracks for the new Jewish Teen Foundation were created: the philanthropy track in which participants “learn everything they need to know to be an effective fundraiser,” and the civic track wherein participants “gain deeper insight into social issues and how to support community partners in providing solutions.”

"The Teen Foundation taught me that it really is possible to make a difference. I know everyone says that, but it is true. It seemed so impossible to me before, but I was able to see first-hand that big differences don't cost billions of dollars." Beth, JTF Alumna

With a mission that emphasizes uplifting vulnerable populations through healthcare, housing, and education, the JTF is seeking motivated teens to participate in this year’s program. “In return,” said Isaacs, “here’s what the teens can expect: ‘The most life altering, transformative Jewish experience of their lives. And an opportunity to do work that used to only be reserved for adults.’” Moreover, according to Isaacs, the skills teens develop though the JTF are transferable to different parts of their lives—personally, academically, and when they enter the professional world.

The teen board members of this year’s JTF are taking a deeper dive than ever before, not just in learning Jewish values but in incorporating them into their lives, implementing them in their community, and setting a foundation for their future. “We’re going to invest in these teens because we know there is a spark that has not wavered a bit over the past fourteen years. We’re going to build on that spark.”

For more information, please contact Loal Isaacs at 415.512.6263.

Applications open April 15 at

Categories: Teens, Philanthropy


March 07, 2019


Jon Moskin