Above: In addition to the teen initiative, Federation has convened a NextGen group of Atlanta professionals working with young Jewish adults the past two years. A meeting at Pita Grille on Friday, Oct. 14, drew (visible, clockwise from left front) Rabbi Karmi Ingber, Ryan Kaplan, Rabbi Sam Shabman, Stacie Graff, Jackie Nix, Shira Rothman, Julie Katz, Gabrielle Adler, Adam Kofinas, Rabbi Hillel Konigsburg, Nathan Brodsky, Marcus Brodzki, Leah Fuhr, Dina Fuchs-Beresin, Evan Alberhasky, Jamie Perry and Rachel Kosberg. Also there were Seth Schatten, Tommy Bledsoe and Daniel Sperling. Federation is holding its Super Sunday phone-a-thon Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Davis Academy.
Atlanta’s Jewish community has received a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation to become one of 10 cities in the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative.
The new Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative, focused on high-schoolers, is the latest local effort to substantially boost Jewish teen education and engagement throughout the community by opening new doors. AJTI is a collaboration among the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the Marcus Jewish Community Center and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.
“We see this initiative as a shining example of how key partners can have a bigger collective impact than any individual agency can have alone,” Federation CEO and President Eric Robbins said.
The initiative centers on pathways that enable teens to explore areas of interest through a Jewish lens in an experiential way. The pathways will be developed in the coming months for the 2017-18 school year.
Possibilities include a spring break performing arts program with Jewish content at the Alliance Theatre or with the Atlanta Opera and a summer social justice seminar with lawyers and activists on how Jewish values inform social issues.
AJTI will operate independently from its supporting organizations.
The Marcus JCC will provide the organization and the managerial support to create and deliver engaging programs and to track and evaluate teen participation.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with other agencies to even more significantly engage the next generation of Jewish Atlantans in an innovative way,” Marcus JCC CEO Jared Powers said.
ARA will contribute community experts in Jewish education and will enlist rabbis and other educators to recruit teen participants, serve as mentors and provide development for teen professionals.
Federation will lead the local fundraising to match the $2.1 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. A local funder will provide half the local match.
The San Francisco-based Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative is composed of 15 national and local funders, including the Marcus Foundation and the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, committed to learning together, sharing best practices and investing in community-based Jewish teen initiatives.
The collaborative began in 2013 after the release of the Jim Joseph Foundation report “Effective Strategies for Educating and Engaging Jewish Teens.” Over eight to 10 years, collaborative-funded initiatives are projected to engage tens of thousands of teens in meaningful Jewish learning experiences.
“This unique collaboration of national and local funders is a model with great promise for advancing Jewish teen education and engagement,” said Sara Allen, the newly appointed first director of the collaborative. “The lessons learned here can inform others’ investments in Jewish life and even the broader philanthropic arena as we increasingly recognize that collaboration is a means to achieve large-scale social change.”
The other participating communities are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.