Teens Get Hands-On Training in Jewish Philanthropy

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Features

On Sunday, April 15, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jteen Philanthropy program concluded its second year of grantmaking and leadership as 38 teens celebrated their achievements by allocating more than $27,000. The program is led by Federation’s Manager of Teen Engagement and Philanthropy Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath.

Jteen Philanthropy allocated grant money to 10 different nonprofit organizations, including six that specifically serve the DC area and four that impact Jews around the world. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) received a $5,000 Jteen grant.

At the closing ceremony, Federation CEO Gil Preuss began by referencing the growing media presence of the country’s youth as they take on important issues. “We are seeing teens position themselves at the forefront of social and political advocacy issues,” he said. “Leading school walk-outs and marches around the nation, speaking with international media outlets — youth are using their voices to protect the values we hold dear.”

In the second year of the program, Federation chose teens from 23 high schools across the Greater Washington area and brought them together over the course of the year to learn about the technical and emotional aspects of intentional philanthropy. The teens met with potential grantees, and then as a group they collaborated on the allocation decision for $27,360 in Jteen grant money.

Mira Fink was one of the Jteen participants who spoke during the closing ceremony. “Throughout my Jteen experience, I have not only learned how to be a philanthropist, but most importantly, I have learned how our Jewish values can influence the way we help others. At Jteen, I was able to channel both my love for helping others with the love for Judaism I carry with me,” said Fink.

Jteen Chair Shelly Kupfer spoke about the importance of Jewish teen philanthropy programing around the country. “Together with their counterparts in more than 70 Jewish giving programs nationwide, our teens are part of a larger movement that allocates over a million dollars annually,” she said. “We see the influence that these philanthropic teen leadership programs make on the world through their giving, and we are also fortunate enough to see the values instilled in them thanks to their meaningful relationships with Jewish giving.”

“I strive to help others in any way possible and embrace my religion on a daily basis, [but] it was not until I started going to Jteen when I thought to myself, how can I show compassion to others while upholding my Jewish values?” said Fink. “In the time we shared together, we were able to shape the way we performed mitzvahs [good deeds] through the influence of Judaism.”

Applications are officially open for The Jewish Federation’s Jteen program for 2018-2019, which will run in both Maryland and Virginia, and will include first, second, and third year options for teens who wish to begin their philanthropic education and those who want to continue with the program. Applications can be submitted at shalomdc.org/jteen.

 By Kol HaBirah Staff