Teen Initiative Program Accelerator

Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative

Background and Purpose:

Meaningful Jewish experiences are known to offer significant benefits to the healthy development of teens at a critical time of identity formation. The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative (Teen Initiative) was launched in 2017 to increase teen participation in Jewish experiences, and to deepen the experience for those who are marginally engaged. This work continues as a key element of the Federation’s ambitious new Jewish Engagement Initiative. As one of three priorities emerging from our strategic direction, the goal is to increase and diversify participation by expanding opportunities and pathways for youth, young adults and families with young children, to experience Jewish life in deep relationship with others.

Evaluation findings from the Teen Initiative’s first two years highlight the importance of connection and community for teens and their parents. Teens attribute making strong friendships, having supportive conversations with staff, feeling a sense of belonging, and having a positive self-image to their participation in these programs. Casting wide nets to Jewish teens and their friends often serves to reach less engaged teens, with the greatest success demonstrated by organizations that successfully engage teens as leaders to design and shape experiences.

Proposal Guidelines:

The Federation is pleased to launch the second Teen Program Accelerator for organizations prepared to scale or expand creative, high-quality, and inspiring opportunities for teen engagement. We seek organizations and programs poised for growth, led by teams who are interested in developing expertise in Relational Engagement and Culture of Belonging practices as tools to increase and deepen engagement. New strategies will embrace shifts from programs that are transactional to opportunities that are intentionally relational, from staff driven to teen powered, and which prioritize relationships to create connection and belonging.  

Qualified applicants will demonstrate:

  • Track record of success in Jewish teen engagement with creative and bold ideas for growth
  • Proof of concept for the program to be scaled with evidence of demand for expansion
  • Commitment to experimenting with practices of Relational Engagement and Cultures of Belonging to create meaningful connections with and for teens
  • Inclusion of teen voice and leadership in current program delivery and in plans for program expansion
  • Organizational capacity with structures and staffing in place to sustain growth
  • Eagerness to participate as part of a cohort to share learning and support growth in the field of teen engagement

Grant Opportunity:

  • Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to 8 organizations ($50,000/year OR $60,000/$40,000 July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2022)
  • Funding may support program expenses and direct staffing and will be coupled with training, coaching, and evaluation as part of a cohort

Eligibility and Criteria:

Applicants must:

  • Be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit or organization with fiscal sponsorship in the Federation's service area
  • Successful track record working with Jewish teens
  • Alignment with the applying organization’s mission and growth plans
  • Alignment with the Federation’s mission and funding policy on Israel-related programming
  • Strong organizational leadership and financial stability
  • Availability of competent staff and organizational resources to implement the program
  • Commitment to participate in evaluation activities for the Teen Initiative locally and on a national level, which may include surveys, interviews, and focus groups led by Rosov Consulting, professional evaluators for the Teen Initiative

Additional Information:

Cohort Participation: Organizations selected for the Teen Program Accelerator must make a two-year commitment to cohort participation, including:

  • Three in-person training workshops for program teams for each of two years
  • Quarterly coaching sessions/check-ins via Zoom
  • Quarterly Community of Practice sessions for peer learning via Zoom
  • Contributions of time and wisdom to shape the professional development and support given to the cohort

Teen Summit: The Accelerator Cohort will collaborate on planning a Teen Summit, to take place in spring or fall 2021, to bring together teen leaders from each participating organization for peer networking and learning on Relational Engagement and Cultures of Belonging.

Success Measures:

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of 10 communities participating in a Funder Collaborative driving towards Shared Measures of Success to increase Positive Outcomes for Jewish Teens. These 14 outcomes represent a paradigm shift in the way the Jewish community is measuring the learning and growth in teens with a focus on engaging the teen as a whole person and the ways Judaism can enrich and influence his/her/their life.  The expectation is not that every Jewish teen program will address all 14 outcomes, but the hope is that teens who engage in a program or multiple programs over the course of their development will experience many of these outcomes including:

  • Have a stronger sense of self
  • Feel a sense of pride in being Jewish and develop the desire to be part of the Jewish people, now and in the future
  • Have experience learning that has been both challenging and valuable
  • Establish strong friendships and develop significant relationships with mentors, role models, and educators
  • Develop strong and healthy relationships with their families
  • Able to express their values and ethics in relation to Jewish principles and wisdom
  • Feel inspired and empowered to make a positive difference in various communities

The Teen Initiative is a project of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, with generous support from the Jim Joseph Foundation and a consortium of local funders. 


Application Process and Timeline:


Deliverable Timeline
Proposal Submission Deadline     Thursday, April 30, 2020, at 5:00 pm PST
Grantees Informed Monday, June 15, 2020
Grantee Launch Gathering End of August/Early September 2020 (TBD)
Grant Term July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2022 
Community of Practice Launch September 2020


For more information, visit the FAQ page.


Michele Levine
Director of Teen Initiatives