JKG is the only Atlanta organization to receive the 2017 recognition, announced Tuesday, June 6. Last year’s guide included JKG, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, JScreen and SOJOURN. JKG also was honored in 2014.
Ana Robbins’ brainchild, JKG is an independent network of Jewish supplementary schools providing after-school and Sunday Hebrew school programming.
As founder and executive director, Robbins is passionate about making Jewish learning exciting and camplike. She started the organization more than 10 years ago with six students; today JKG has four locations, from Dunwoody to the Old Fourth Ward.
The entrepreneur has engaged children on a new level of Jewish learning and created a dynamic place to work.
Robbins said one innovative practice she uses is rapid experimentation. When her team identifies an opportunity or challenge, it tests solutions with rapid mini-experiments. Results are tracked, and changes are made based on the results.
The mini-experiments tests scenarios so Robbins and her team can make informed decisions with the expense of advertising and marketing a pilot program.
She also practices disruptive leadership development, in which top performers are promoted without warning. For example, Maya Selber had mastered her position as after-school director when Robbins made her chief operating officer.
The idea is to guide employees to think and do bigger.
“I’m laser-focused on aligning skills, talent and growing systems,” Robbins said.
Organizations apply to Slingshot to win one of the 50 coveted spots. Slingshot distributes a guide with the honorees.
Slingshot this year asked nonprofits to apply based on their business stage: startup, mezzanine or legacy. Applications and evaluations were tailored, giving organizations a context to share work. Slingshot thus aimed to set expectations for what innovation looks like at each stage.
Slingshot was created when a group of young philanthropists wanted to make a difference but needed a tool to help them navigate the Jewish landscape. The Slingshot Guide was born in 2005.
“Slingshot’s work is to help Jews find, fund and connect to meaningful, exciting experiences in Jewish life,” Executive Director Stefanie Rhodes said. “After 12 years, the book remains relevant in a changing world because we continue to highlight organizations doing exceptional work, serving as the trailblazers for what is possible, meeting the community’s evolving needs and inspiring all of us.”