The Jewish Teen Foundations (JTF) allow Bay Area Jewish teens an opportunity to learn to run their own charitable foundation and to become strategic grantmakers. The Jewish Teen Foundations have created groundbreaking programs and a unique identity in the exciting new field of youth philanthropy. The foundations were built upon the local model of the "Seventh Grade Fund" formerly offered at Brandeis Hillel Day School, and the "Seventh Grade Tzedakah Project" at Gideon Hausner and Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day Schools.
The South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation’s pilot board was established in the spring of 2004 alongside the East Bay Jewish Teen Foundation. (East Bay JTF was founded by the Jewish Community Endowment Fund (JCEF) and is now under the auspices of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Greater East Bay) Over the course of six months, the founding board members learned the ins and outs of foundation work and philanthropic giving from a Jewish ethical perspective. As part of this program, the teens collectively evaluated no less than 60 grant proposals. The program cumulated in September 2004, when the South Peninsula teens approved the allocation of grants totaling $9,500 to three non-profit organizations and the East Bay group allocated $11,500 in grant monies to an additional three organizations.
Building on the momentum of the first year’s program, the 2005 Teen Foundation participants raised more than $100,000, which was then distributed to nineteen different nonprofit organizations.
Click here for the complete JTF grant history.
The Marin JTF was launched in the fall of 2006 with supporting from the JCEF and other generous funders. Seventeen teens served on the inaugural Marin JTF board, raising $23,200, which was then granted to six organizations, all of whom are dedicated to the improvement of people’s quality of life through education.
In the fall of 2007, the JCEF and other funders helped to launch additional teen foundations in the North Peninsula region and in San Francisco. The Marin and San Francisco JTFs merged in the fall of 2008 to form the Marin/San Francisco JTF. There are now four teen foundations in the Bay Area, including one in the East Bay, hosting more than 100 Jewish teen leaders.
Over the course of a school year, this select group of Bay Area Jewish youth will take part in a regional philanthropy training retreat and meet on a monthly basis to explore Jewish values and ideas, learn leadership skills, and experience and practice informed, directed philanthropy. Each foundation develops a group funding mission and a Request for Proposals (RFP) that is sent to dozens of nonprofit organizations. The teen board members then carefully evaluate the grant proposals and invite agency representatives to make in-person presentations, summarizing their RFPs. Grant decisions are then made by the teens during an often times emotionally intense, but highly respectful and well-planned allocation process.
Each program year begins with a San Francisco Bay Area Regional Teen Philanthropy Retreat.
Click here for a recap of the 2011 retreat.
The Jewish Teen Foundations provide local youth with the opportunity to put into practice the Jewish principles of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (justice) in a group setting that instills within its participants the skills that can set a life-long pattern of doing and giving: activism and philanthropy. JTF participants engage in an in-depth examination of social justice issues, profound discussions of the meaning of tzedakah and other Jewish values, and how these concepts can be applied to grantmaking.
Director of Youth Philanthropy
for the Jewish Community Endowment Fund
121 Steuart Street
San Francisco, CA 94105