Teen Foundations; Building Future Leaders

The cool sounds from Aaron Breetwor’s saxophone helped to bring in over $10,000 last spring. Aaron, a member of the Board of one of the Jewish Community Federation's Teen Foundations, along with three of his classmates from Mountain View High School, held a fundraising concert/party at his parent's home. Raising that much money in a single evening, Aaron says, “was pretty cool.” The money raised by Aaron was pooled with funds raised by two dozen other teens who serve with him on the South Peninsula Jewish Community Teen Foundation. For the past five years the Teen Foundation program has offered groups of Bay Area Jewish teens the opportunity to learn about philanthropy by exploring Jewish values and ideas. One hundred teens serve on the four Boards: San Francisco/Marin, the South Peninsula, the North Peninsula and the East Bay.

Aaron Breetwor plays the saxaphone to raise money for the JCTF

Aaron Breetwor plays the saxaphone to raise money for the JCTF

Through a weekend retreat and seven Sunday afternoon meetings, the young foundation members discuss Jewish thought and ideas and participate in a series of exercises designed to teach them how to become philanthropic leaders informed by Jewish values. The teens define their own philanthropic priorities for each of the four Teen Foundations. They then invite charities that operate within their area of philanthropic focus to submit grant requests and make in-person presentations. The teens also raise the majority of funds used to pay for the grants that they make. The money is raised through letter-writing campaigns aimed at relatives, friends, coworkers, teachers and synagogue members. Aaron’s unique fundraising approach came about because he felt, “it would be a fun and different way to connect with the donors I was asking for money from.” The Teen Foundation program was initially made possible by one donor’s permanent gift. Other donations have helped to underwrite subsequent program costs and matching grants designed to supplement the funds raised by the teens have also been created. The JCEF’s unrestricted funds and a widening pool of donors have helped to insure that the tradition of Jewish philanthropy is passed on to younger generations. Since the program’s inception more than $650,000 has been awarded to deserving organizations, including $162,000 that was given out last June. The teens’ diverse concerns were reflected in the grants awarded, including help for inner city American youth, the hungry in Africa, Jewish Coalition for Literacy, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the preservation of the environment in Israel, and many other concerns. And Aaron Breetwor, who is in the second year of his Board membership, recently held a second fundraising concert to further his vision of tikkun olam. To find out how you can support the Jewish Community Teen Foundation program or to get information on applying to become a teen philanthropist, please contact Sue Schwartzman, Director of Youth Philanthropy, at 650.852.9020 x 8007, or sues@sfjcf.org.

TESTIMONIALS “Looking back now I realize my time at the Teen Foundation coincided with times that I was growing most as a person and learning who I was and what was important to me. The Teen Foundation showed me that community service is something I want to do for my whole life. I couldn’t have gotten this experience anywhere else and I know it helped shape me.” – Trevor, South Peninsula Teen Foundation Alumni

“It is probably one of the most worthwhile activities our daughter has participated in. It helped to accelerate the further development of not only a sense of empathy, but of how to turn empathy into positive action.” – Leslie, North Peninsula Teen Foundation Parent

“This program helped me shape my Jewish identity and how I personally am connected to the Jewish community. It also allows me to experience being a Jew without having to rely solely on religion and faith, but giving.” – Ilana, Marin/San Francisco Jewish Community Teen Foundation Participant.

Categories: Teens


August 05, 2009


The Federation