Jewish Teen Initiative Announces Grant Recipients

The Jewish Teen Initiative is dedicated to supporting existing Jewish teen programs and helping provide resources that ensure growth and retention of teen participants. As part of a core organizational strategy, the Jewish Teen Initiative provides micro-grant funding for these programs to seed innovation and incentivize best practices associated with service leaning and experiential education. Each organization is eligible for up to $5,000 of funding in this area.

We are thrilled to announce the first five grants totaling over $17,000. The programs awarded are:

Jewish Educators in Training Institute (Temple Adat Shalom): Madrichim will receive three immersive learning experiences that will explore key strategies for inspiring Jewish journeys. Sessions will be designed using a spiral curriculum that starts by exploring each Madrich(a)’s individual Jewish identity and then builds on how they connect to younger students in a meaningful way. Ideally, by the end of program, Madrichim will be capable of designing and implementing well-crafted lesson plans, connecting authentically with the students in their class, and understanding how to be an effective role model for a diverse student body.

TAG Giving & Thanks 500 (Youth Action Movement): Teens About Goodness (TAG) is a platform to initiate humanitarian projects and identify the opportunities of goodness and kindness within oneself. Giving & Thanks 500 took place on Thanksgiving morning 2016. It was a two part program to pack & deliver 500 kits of fresh baked pies, pastas, rain gear & hygiene packages to San Diego's less fortunate. Kits were designed to be nutritional and sensitive to those that experience diabetes.

Love in a Box (JTEEN): Love in a Box aims to be a movement that will empower teens to easily make a tangible impact they can see. Students will assemble care packages to be distributed to two key demographics: homeless and high school students. For the homeless, the group will provide basic needs supplies, and for high school students, they will provide "destressing" items for high school students impacted by stress and anxiety.

Amor Mexico Service Trip (Temple Solel): The Tikkun Projects at Temple Solel will go to Mexico and build houses for families that are in need. The intended outcomes include having each participant feel that they actually “walked the talk” of Jewish life by doing the work of tikkun. Since there is no technology allowed on the trip, the evening will involve building relationships and debriefing the work of the day.

Midnight Run (Temple Emanu El): Temple Emanu-El’s second annual Midnight Run teen project is inspired by the Midnight Run program in New York City. This program features teams of high school students that distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to homeless people through the city. The project requires the teens to spend dozens of hours collecting donations and making packages of food, clothing and personal care items in advance of the all-night program. The late-night relief efforts distribute food and useful items, but the transaction also creates a forum for trust, sharing, understanding and affection. That human exchange establishes common ground between the housed and the homeless. The highest goals of the midnight Run are to help us meet “the other” and de-stigmatize the homeless community while providing extra material support on the weekends when many shelters are closed.

“We are excited by the intentionality and creativity that went in to designing these programs. It is our hope that we will learn important lessons from the implementation of these programs that will benefit our collective Jewish teen community.” said Darren Schwartz, Director of the Jewish Teen Initiative/Motiv.


The Jewish Teen Initiative is a collaboration between the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center and the Jim Joseph Foundation.

For more information about the Jewish Teen Initiative, grants and eligibility, contact Darren Schwartz,



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