The Stroum Jewish Community Center, together with the Samis Foundation and the Bianco family, launched a new teen philanthropy program called the Giving Initiative for Teens (GIFT) this fall for the 2018-19 school year.
SJCC serves more than 15,000 people annually in the greater Seattle area, and has made youth and teen leadership and engagement a key focus in the coming year. The Jewish population in Seattle is growing, yet the availability of teen leadership program has dwindled, making it an exciting time for SJCC to add GIFT to the teen service programs already in place.
“Philanthropy has always been central to Jewish life, making GIFT a fantastic way for us to deliver on our agency’s mission of celebrating Jewish life and culture,” said SJCC CEO Amy Lavin in a press release.
Applications are now open for interested students in and around the Puget Sound who will be in 9th-11th grade in fall 2018. Mentors and teachers can also nominate students. Teens will meet monthly to research and explore organizations and causes they wish to support; raise and allocate funds to address real community issues; learn about the process of grantmaking; hear from local philanthropists; all while exploring their own Jewish values.
A key piece of the program is the advisory council, comprised of local leaders in the fields of business, technology and philanthropy. Advisors will help the teens network in the community, offer professional guidance, and learn fundraising strategies.
Kim Fisher, a longtime SJCC member whose teenage daughter started the SixThirTeens philanthropy group that partners with the J for service projects, is excited to have another opportunity to engage teens in the community.
“Offering them a variety of ways to stay connected and practice generosity as they navigate their increasingly busy lives is a huge priority for us all,” she said.
The GIFT program is part of the fourth cohort of the Jewish Teen Funders Network Foundation Board Incubator. A project of the Jewish Teen Funders Network and funded by Laura Lauder and the Maimonides Fund, the Foundation Board Incubator brings the success and impact of Jewish teen philanthropy programs across North America into cities around the world. Seattle is one of the newest incubator communities, joining San Diego, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Melbourne and Israel.
The J is now accepting student applications and nominations from teachers and mentors. The application deadline is Sunday, May 20. Forms can be found at http://www.sjcc.org/.