By Adam Grobman
This fall, ten teens learned firsthand what it was like to have an impact in their community through the Jewish Community Foundation’s Teen Philanthropy Board.
The three-session program gave 7th – 11th graders a hands-on opportunity to get more involved in Jewish Harrisburg. The first session gave teens a crash course in philanthropy, where they learned about giving, grant processes, and philanthropy through a Jewish lens.
The next session featured presentations from the area’s Jewish agencies and synagogues, each of whom submitted a proposal for funding of needs, which the participants discussed in the final session.
With $5,000 to grant to community organizations, the teens awarded funds for four projects:
- Afghan Refugee Resettlement needs at Jewish Family Service
- Security needs at Chisuk Emuna
- Rock Steady Boxing, which helps people fight back against Parkinson’s at the Harrisburg JCC
- A personal needs fund at the Campus for the Jewish Home, which assists residents who have limited resources for basic necessities
Rebecca Robinson, who led the program, says that the teens deeply and selflessly considered the value of each project in coming to a consensus in the granting process.
“They discussed how they could make the biggest impact with the funds that they had available,” Rebecca says. “They were really focused on how it’s important for them as Jews to represent the Jewish community and do good for the greater community.”
Funds that the participants awarded came from a donor whose goal was to empower young people to make an impact.
“The teens learned about time, talent, and treasures – that money isn’t the only way to be philanthropic,” Rebecca says. “It was inspiring to see the passion and vision in the next generation – I hope the program inspires them to continue to give back to their community.”
This year’s pilot program was conducted via Zoom. The Jewish Community Foundation plans to continue the program in the Fall.