A Proud Mom Moment

How a program ignited my teen's passion to help others

I was thrilled when my daughter Hannah expressed interest in joining the North Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) two years ago. She had heard wonderful things about the program from various members of the community and during her first year on the JTF board, she grew as an aspiring young philanthropist by learning the basic mechanics of fundraising and allocating grants. More importantly, her eyes were opened to the needs of vulnerable people in her own community and around the world. Hannah was honored to participate in the program for a second year, this time, in a leadership position. We were both excited to be at the culmination of a year's work by all three JTF boards at the Grants Ceremony, which took place at the Glen Park Community Center on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

The day of the Ceremony was a drizzly San Francisco Sunday, turned bright by the warmth of JTF board members who greeted guests at the door. After receiving name tags, we were ushered into the grantee gallery, where the teens were asked questions about the various nonprofit organizations they funded. The intimate environment fostered meaningful conversations and I was quite impressed with the teens’ poise and extensive knowledge of the organizations.

Hannah, second from left, greets guests alongside fellow JTF members

Following a lap around the grantee gallery, guests moved into the multipurpose room, where they heard from teens across all three boards speak to their experiences in the program. With a high level of enthusiasm, many spoke extemporaneously. Hearing how young people collaborated (which was sometimes a struggle) to make a difference in their community instilled me with hope for the future. Hannah beamed proudly at her fellow JTF participants as they shared their passion for the program and its impact.

Teens speaking about their experience in JTF

Both Hannah and I are forever grateful to the Federation for providing such rich programming in which teens can acquire life skills, develop a philanthropic mindset, and practice tikkun olam. We hope that other teens will jump at this opportunity to make new friends while giving back to the local and global community.

Teens posting with representatives from a grantee organization

Through hands-on experience, the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) is a Federation program that fosters teens to be more self-aware and empathetic, igniting a life-long passion to help others. The program is open to Bay Area local, Jewish-identifying, 9-12th graders (and 10-12th for leadership positions) who want to better understand the world, the people that inhabit it, and the ideas that can improve it.

Teens who have previously participated in JTF are welcome to apply either as a participant or a Leadership Council member. Leadership positions require at least one year of participation in JTF or equivalent leadership and/or management experience.

Learn more by visiting their webpage.

Categories: Teens, Philanthropy


January 21, 2020


Julie Engel