Teen Initiative Experiment in Engagement Challenge

Applications are being accepted starting August 1, 2018

Background and Purpose:

The Federation’s Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative (Teen Initiative) seeks new ways of engaging Jewish teens. The Teen Initiative is challenging organizations to disrupt the current landscape with fresh ideas and innovative concepts designed to expand their reach to marginally engaged teens.

The Teen Initiative is a project of Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, in partnership with Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, and with significant support from the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Experiment in Engagement Challenge is one of five interwoven strategies of the Teen Initiative – in addition to an Innovation Accelerator, professional development for youth professionals, a community information hub, and first-time scholarships – all of which aim to build our community’s capacity to meaningfully engage more teens from diverse backgrounds in ways that support Jewish growth and healthy development during their high school years.

The Experiment in Engagement Challenge requires creativity and out-of-the box thinking in programming, partnerships and strategy, and aims to harness the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area. Selected grantees will be those who push themselves to new places, take risks, and propose bold and different ways to reach an expanded network of Jewish teens.

Important questions to consider when developing your proposal:

  • What will enhance the current Jewish teen programming landscape? Consider what is yet to exist or what can take something to a whole new level that will attract a different type of teen.
  • How does your proposed idea meet teens where they are, given the diverse interests and backgrounds of our local Jewish community? Will a teen view the experience as compelling? What do your teens find personally meaningful?
  • How are you involving teens in the development of your idea? This may include brainstorming, developing and testing a prototype, co-writing the application, and creating specific program elements.
  • How are you incorporating learnings from the Effective Strategies for Educating and Engaging Jewish Teens report in your program design?
  • How does your idea create a new point of entry for marginally engaged teens? How might it serve as a first step toward deeper levels of engagement?
  • How are you marketing your idea to target marginally engaged teens? What strategies are you using to identify teens that may not be known by your organization? How are you leveraging currently involved teens to recruit new participants?


  • The Experimentation in Engagement Challenge aims to award 10-12 grants, ranging in size from $3,000-$10,000.
  • Grants will be awarded in November 2018 for programming to occur by July 31, 2019.

Eligibility and Criteria:

  • Eligible applicants are registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits or organizations with fiscal sponsorship, serving the service area of Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund or Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay.
  • Proposed idea(s) are in alignment with the applying organization’s mission, core competencies, and plans for growth.
  • Approach to engagement of Jewish teens from 8th grade through their high school years is designed to reach beyond the current population of participating teens and open to all teens regardless of membership or institutional affiliation.
  • Availability of competent staff and organizational resources to implement the program.

Additional Information:

  • Entrepreneurial Human-Centered Design Sprint: Applicants are strongly encouraged to participate in one of two Design Sprint Workshops offered by UpStart. In these half day workshops, UpStart leads participants through the four phases of the Design Thinking process, at the conclusion of which participants have a working prototype to help inform their RFP for the Experiment in Engagement Challenge. The following are workshop dates and locations:

1) Wednesday August 15, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, 121 Steuart Street, 10 am - 2 pm

2) Tuesday August 28, Jewish Federation of the East Bay, 2121 Allston Way Suite 200, 10 am - 2 pm


Please confirm participation in this workshop by emailing Mike Friedman. Be sure to include names of all attendees, your organization, and which session you plan to attend.

  • Expenses: Allowable expenses include direct programming costs, such as materials, transportation, contractors/content providers, venue rentals and additional staff hours for hourly staff. Ineligible expenses include salaries, overhead, and swag.
  • Evaluation Activities: Participating organizations will be required to contribute to evaluation activities for the Teen Initiative to ensure continued learning about teen participants and the impact of their experience. This may include data collection and information sharing so we can learn who our programs are reaching and link them to future Jewish opportunities.
  • Coaching: Organizations will be offered coaching sessions with the Teen Initiative Director during the grant period.
  • Experiment in Engagement Challenge Grant Celebration: Organizations will be invited to a concluding convening, which will act as both a learning session and celebration to reflect upon successes and lessons learned, to be scheduled in June 2019.
  • Final Report: Organizations will be required to submit a short report following the conclusion of their Experiment in Engagement Challenge activity, due in June 2019.

Application Process:

  • Please carefully review guidelines, grant criteria, and commitment requirements to determine if this opportunity is a good fit for your organization. All applicants are encouraged to consult with Mike Friedman, Teen Initiative Director, in advance of submission.
  • Complete all the information as requested in this application. You have the option to begin the application now and finish it at a later time. Click on "Save and finish later" button at the bottom of any page to save your work.
  • The online grant application is hosted by a third-party. To safeguard against lost work in the event of technical difficulties, all applicants are encouraged to compose applications in a word processing program first, and then copy and paste answers into the online form.
  • If you have any questions about this form, please contact Federation Grant Support at 415.512.6272 / grantsupport@sfjcf.org.
  • Once submitted, applications will be reviewed by both a Teen Review Panel and Teen Initiative Advisory Committee Review Panel.


  • August 1: Applications are being accepted
  • August: Optional workshops (see above)
  • October 5 [5:00 pm PST]: Applications due
  • November: Grants announced

Sarah Hartman
Teen Initiative Program Manager