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JumpSpark Havayah Israel Experience Grants RFP

By JumpSpark

About JumpSpark 

JumpSpark, as part of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, offers unprecedented collaboration to develop, nurture and scale new approaches to teen engagement. Informed by up-to-the-minute research and data, and drawing on the collective strength of local organizations, JumpSpark works in Atlanta to reverse the trend of teens opting out of Jewish life in their middle and high school years. Through dynamic partnerships and strategic investment, JumpSpark reimagines existing programs, supports new and innovative ideas, and thinks creatively to meet the needs of teens, their parents, and Jewish educators and professionals that work with them. 

As part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, JumpSpark serves as a hub for Jewish teen education and engagement. This role allows JumpSpark to serve as both a funder and convener to help drive and shape the teen ecosystem. As a convener, JumpSpark runs a Community Partner Network of over 30 local youth serving organizations committed to raising the bar for Jewish teen education and engagement. As a funder, JumpSpark has invested over $600,000 dollars in the teen ecosystem since 2019 reaching 1000s of teens and connecting them to meaningful Jewish experiences. 

Strengthening Teens Connections to Israel  

JumpSpark, in partnership with Root One aims to support and grow high-level, multi-part engagement experiences for teens both before and after they travel to Israel. We will increase participation of Atlanta teens in Israel travel experiences, create meaningful connections between teens in Atlanta to the people, land, and state of Israel, and lengthen the arc of engagement for teen participants with Israel and the Jewish community. Havayah, translated from Hebrew as ‘experience’, expresses the desired outcome to lengthen the teen Israel experience in America. As part of this initiative, we aim to work in partnership with YSOs locally and nationally to encourage participating in Root One summer experiences. 

JumpSpark is now accepting applications for youth-serving organizations that support teen Israel summer travel experiences to develop impactful pre and/or post trip engagements. We are accepting applications through January 31 for projects that will occur through June 2022. 

Project Guidelines 

  • Develop engagement opportunities for participants of summer 2021 (post-trip engagement) or 2022 (pre-trip engagement)) Israel summer experiences 
  • Create opportunities to connect more deeply with Israel either before or after the summer trip  
  • Utilize data tracking strategies to analyze impact  
  • The grant is not to be used to further subsidize trip costs. Our goal is that 75% of teens participating in Israel teen travel experiences will engage in these additional experiences. 
  • Available budget for Havayah Grants is up to $10,000. 

We may request an interview prior to making final determinations regarding grant allocations. 

If you have any questions, please contact Nathan Brodsky, Director of JumpSpark, at nbrodsky@jewishatlanta.org 

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JumpSpark Signature Programs – Back for 5782

By COMMUNITY, JumpSpark

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s Teen Initiative, is excited to launch a new year with signature program: JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship, JumpSpark Teen Boys Program, and the Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship.

JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship, now in its third fourth year, empowers female-identifying Jewish teens, grades 9-12, by providing access to strong women leaders, thinkers, and voices who shape their world. Each month participants hear from community leaders and engage in relevant learning that speaks to what it means to be a woman in our time. The Fellowship helps young women grapple with the obstacles they face and prepares them to take on leadership roles now and in the future.

JumpSpark Teen Boys Program helps male-identifying boys unpack the countless messages they hear every day about what it means to “be a man” and decide for themselves what male characteristics they want to emulate. The Fellowship encourages boys to examine various models of manhood and think critically about what means to be a man in today’s world. The group is a place for boys to decompress, learn tactics to deal with stress, and discover strategies for dealing with emotions in a society that tells them they should hold in their feelings.

Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship. Last year JumpSpark added teen Israel travel to its portfolio and made it even more compelling with its Amplifying Israel Teen Fellowship. This bold initiative has strengthened Atlanta’s relationship with teens in our partnership region, Yokneam and Megiddo, and amped up demand for teen travel to Israel.

Just as we bring Shinshinim to Atlanta from our partnership region, we are now sending two Atlanta Yokneam and Megiddo as part of their gap year in Israel. Last year our Amplifying Israel Teen Fellows worked with four identified teen leaders in Atlanta’s partnership region. They are ambassadors who are trained as social media storytellers for the program as they help to engage more teens in immersive Israel experiences and build excitement for Israel travel.

Visit the JumpSpark website for more information about programs.

The Impact of a Gap Year in Israel

By COMMUNITY, JumpSpark

Sheryl Korelitz, Director of Gap Year Recruitment for Masa North America, works with JumpSpark and Federation to recruit students for gap year programs in Israel and match students with programs that suit their interests and needs. We asked Sheryl, the proud mother of two Masa gap year daughters, about the value of this experience:

Q: Why send your teen on a gap year program in Israel?

A: So many parents think of a gap year as a year off and worry that their kids will fall behind their peers when they get to college. Overwhelmingly, research shows that a gap year is incredibly beneficial for college success. Gap year alumni have higher GPAs in college and tend to graduate in four years. They are more focused in terms of their careers, and they develop a higher level of independence and maturity.

All types of kids grow during their gap year. Highly driven kids really benefit from time to breathe and flex different muscles. This gives them a year without expectations and less pressure. And kids who are not super students, who spent their high school years not feeling great about themselves because school wasn’t their best skill, they come back brand new! They walk taller, speak with confidence, and have had a year of tremendous growth and self-discovery.

Q: What are the benefits of deferring college to go on a gap year?

A: Kids have FOMO (fear of missing out), and I get it. They think their brain will wither, or that they’ll forget grammar if they take a year away. Some Israel programs have an academic base where you can earn college credit. But the truth is, your college peers won’t care where you spent the previous year. A gap year gives you a whole year to learn how to make all new friends — you’ll come to campus with that skill. You’ve learned to live with a roommate, you’ve done your own laundry, you’ll hit campus running. You’re not behind, you’re ahead.

Future employers will appreciate your experience, and the fact that you have friends from all over the world is a gift that you’ll have forever. And you’ll have BIG fun!

Q: What does a gap year mean for Jewish identity and future leadership?

A:  Parents are understandably anxious about the influence of the BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanction) movement on campus and students’ general lack of knowledge about Israel. A gap year is not meant to teach your kids how to be Jewish on campus or dictate a particular point of view on Israel, rather it lets them take ownership of their Judaism — discover how they feel about Israel, and what it all means. Their Israel experience empowers them to come from a place of knowing. They’ve lived it. They’ve met Palestinians. They’ve seen Israeli life and culture. The year empowers young adults to be strong in their Judaism. Being away from family, away from synagogue, helps students make their own decisions. Nothing is more powerful.

There is a strong correlation between Jewish campus leadership and an Israel experience. The Zalik Foundation, a funder of Atlanta scholarships for Israel gap year options, is specifically focused on this and I think it’s wonderful. These nine months spent in Israel are life-changing and I truly believe that they contribute to the Jewish future. I applaud the Zalik Foundation for seeing how impactful this can be. 

JumpSpark Partnership Amplifies Teen Israel Travel

By JEWISH JOURNEYS, JumpSpark

JumpSpark is proud to partner with RootOne to promote summer teen Israel travel in Atlanta. RootOne provides major subsidies for trip participants, invests in elevating trip curricula and experiences, and works with its partners to create deeper pre- and post-trip engagement opportunities to help strengthen participants’ Jewish identities and connections to Israel before they begin college. Jewish teens in Atlanta are eligible to receive RootOne vouchers to attend Israel trips with five different youth-serving organizations. 

Jewish Student Union (JSU) GO is a RootOne partner offering an action-packed summer adventure trip in Israel for high school teens from the greater Atlanta area. This summer, JSU GO brought 40 local teens together for an incredible immersive experience. Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, the Executive Director of JSU, shared that, “One of the big features of our program is that everyone becomes a family. We facilitate a culture that’s designed to bring everyone together. We’re looking to help people make lifelong friends that go far beyond the trip.”  

One participant added that the trip allowed her to experience Judaism in a new way. “There’s a feeling that comes with being in Israel on Shabbat that you can’t have anywhere else.” Rabbi Neiditch affirms that, “The trip is life-changing for the kids. An immersive experience is a very different type of Jewish experience. We have kids who felt disconnected to their Jewish identity before the trip, and this trip changes the way they think about Judaism, makes it tangible and accessible to them. When you get a chance to spend time in Israel and explore a place that’s infused with Judaism, it changes lives.”

Interested in learning more about JSU GO? Visit JSUisrael.com. Pre-registration for next summer is open now! Pre-register today for the summer of a lifetime and save $200. 

Making Israel Real for Teens

By GLOBAL JEWRY, JumpSpark

Jewish educators are constantly searching for ways to engage students in discovering their Jewish identity and connecting with the land and people of Israel. There is agreement that one of the most impactful way to link Jewish teens with their Jewish identity is having them spend extended time in Israel. Taking a gap year, between high school graduation and the start of college, is an ideal time. 

This past year, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in partnership with JumpSpark Atlanta, offered a gap year scholarship opportunity created by the Zalik Family Foundation. The scholarships can be applied to a wide selection of programs facilitated by the Jewish Agency, and coordinated by an organization called Masa Israel Journey.

Twenty-five students from around Atlanta have received grants of $10,000 to help subsidize the cost of their gap year program. An additional $5,000 scholarship was awarded to students who commit to serving the community upon their return. In a new twist, Federation is offering a new gap year option called Shinshinim IL bringing an Atlanta teen to volunteer in the Yokneam community for a year. 

Michal Ilai, Director of Israel Programs at the Weber School, helped recruit students for gap year experiences. She said, “Masa is a provider of many fine gap year opportunities each with a slightly different way to authentically engage students in Israel. Some programs are focused on academics, others are more experiential offering tiyulim (trips) around the country. But every avenue leads to the same destination — deepening Jewish identity while getting to really know Israel. There is a gap year for every kind of teen, and I was lucky to have been the matchmaker this past year. I hope this scholarship will be offered to Atlanta high school graduates for years to come.” 

Rebecca Lewyn, a Weber graduate and scholarship recipient, is looking forward to leaving for Israel. “I am so excited to be participating. It feels good to know my Federation supports a very important cause and helps send kids to Israel who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.” Lewyn will join Young Judea Year Course, a well-established and popular gap year program that has been attracting teens from all over the world since the 1950’s.  

Daniel Landis is a Chamblee Charter High School graduate who also received the scholarship. He chose a program with a technology track in which students intern in Tel Aviv tech companies. When asked what he wanted to get out of the experience, he immediately said “I want to gain a lot of new skills, explore my Jewish heritage and make new connections.”  

Leah Stock-Landis, Daniel’s mother, is extremely thankful for the scholarship. “From the beginning stage, all the information provided, and continuous support made us feel that somebody was looking for what was the best fit for Daniel.” He’ll be part of a program that takes students to Poland to visit concentration camps. This is of particular importance to the Landis family, as Daniel’s grandfather was a Holocaust survivor.  

A local family whose daughter recently returned from her gap year program, shared their excitement about the initiative. “Israel is very important to us, so it was a given that our daughter would go on a gap year program. We wish we had this level of guidance at the time we looked at the options. In addition to the incredible scholarship, the help to Atlanta families with selecting the appropriate program is a tremendous service,” the father shared. 

Atlanta Meets Israel in a JumpSpark Blog

By CARING, COMMUNITY, GLOBAL JEWRY, JumpSpark

JumpSpark’s Amplifying Israel program is all about connecting Atlanta teens with their counterparts in our Partnership RegionYokneam, IsraelLulu Rosenberg, an 11th grader at North Springs High School, is one of five Atlanta fellows in the program. Shaked Nitka is high school student in YokneamIsrael. Both girls are blogging to explore their feelings about what it means to be Jewish, and in the process are illuminating places where they align, and where they diverge a bit, tooHere’s what they have to say: 

Lulu Rosenberg: Whether I am lighting the Shabbat candles, eating chicken soup with matzah balls, participating in a global Jewish youth group like BBYO, or attending a Strong Jewish Women’s Fellowship meeting, there is no doubt that I am connected to my Judaism. Being Jewish is a huge part of my identity and it plays a major role in my daily life. When I wake up in the morning, it’s not like the first thing I think of is being Jewish. But when I come downstairs and see a plate of hamentaschen from my neighbor on the counter, I don’t question it. When I get a bowl for my cereal before I go to school, I make sure to get a dairy one and not a meat one. Leaving my house for school, I pass the mezuzah on the door and walk to my car. I don’t even notice the sticker on my windshield for the Jewish Community Center anymore; it is the same one that practically every other Jew in Atlanta also has. 

I used to go to a Jewish day school where all my friends and most of my teachers were Jewish. Now, I attend public school. My closest friends are still Jewish, but I am no longer in a bubble where Judaism defines my every day. Everyone at school knows I am Jewish, but it doesn’t seem to faze anyone like I expected it to. I’m not even sure how I expected people to act, but for some reason I believed that my Judaism would really matter to others. Lulu’s story continues here.

Shaked NitkaJudaism is a big part of my life, and it is in my daily life almost everywhere, sometimes even without me noticing it. It could be reflected in the Magen David (shield necklace) that I got for my Bat Mitzvah and which I wear all the time, or in the special feeling of a holiday whenever Friday comes. I think the fact that I’m Israeli has a strong connection to my Judaism because in Israel there are many holy places for Judaism that are close to me and that allow me to connect with Judaism and the history of the Jewish people. Also, Israel is based on Judaism and its laws, and the people surrounding me are following those just like me. For example, on Yom Kippur, everything is closed and when I go out on the streets there are lots of people outside riding a bike or meeting each other to spend this time together, which allows me to experience the holiday in a more powerful and special way. 

I’m not in a religious Jewish school, but Judaism is still present. I learn the Bible, and on school trips we go to places that are important to the history of the Jewish people. After school, I usually learn more and do my homework, go out with my friends, or ride on roller skates to a field close to my house where I will read a book or knit. On Friday, which is my favorite day of the week, I help my parents cook Shabbat dinner, and on that day, my brother also comes back from the Israeli army. We all sit down and have Shabbat dinner together. Being Jewish and Israeli is a big and important part of my identity that matters and interests me greatly. I love opportunities like this one (Amplifying Israel teen fellow) that connect me to Judaism. 

Three Questions for Kelly Cohen

By COMMUNITY, JumpSpark

Q:  How did your background as a Judaic Studies teacher prepare you to lead JumpSpark?

Kelly: One of the most amazing parts of being the Director of JumpSpark is being able to grow with the teens and families of teens in our community. I spent my first six years in Atlanta working at The Davis Academy, and now so many of the kids I taught in elementary school are the teens JumpSpark serves. My work as a Jewish educator has taught me that there are a million ways to connect to Judaism and Jewish tradition, and that my role is to be a guide on that journey of connection. To be a part of a teen’s or a family’s Jewish journey for almost a decade is one of the true pleasures of my work and I am so happy I get to do it now with JumpSpark.

Q: What do you mean when you say, “JumpSpark creates more defining moments for Jewish teens?”

Kelly: The teenage years are crucial in terms of identity exploration and growth. I was a very active NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) member when I was a teen and even spent the first semester of my senior year of high school studying abroad in Israel. Those were defining Jewish moments for me that set me on the path to be a Jewish educator and a committed member of the Jewish community. JumpSpark wants to help teens to have their own defining Jewish moments that hopefully connect them to the Jewish community. We know that a one-size-fits-all model isn’t going to work for all teens, so JumpSpark is working to build and fund new ways to create those moments for teens today.

Q: What can we expect from JumpSpark in the 2019-20 school year?

Kelly: We have so much planned for next school year.  For teens we will be launching a new cohort of our Strong Women Fellowship and a new Teen Israel Taskforce. JumpSpark also just made a $260,000 investment in expanding and enriching the teen landscape, so keep your eyes open for new teen opportunities all around the city. Speaking of being all around the city, we are expanding our Navigating Parenthood series to three locations: Intown, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta, so more parents can gain the network, resources, and skills to parent teens today. Finally, we are expanding JumpSpark Professional and offering more high-level training and networking for the Jewish professionals in our community who work with teens. JumpSpark gained a lot of momentum this year and we are ready to take it to the next level in the coming school year.

Empowering Girls Through STEM

By COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, JumpSpark

Despite the strides made in gender equality, it’s dispiriting to see how many young girls still avoid math and science classes. By the time these girls get to high school, their lack of exposure to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) can foreclose exciting educational and career opportunities. Today, women make up nearly half of the working population, but only 26% work in STEM fields. That’s why Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA), in partnership with JumpSpark, and with grant support from Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta (JWFA), created the Young Women in STEM Career Fair, held March 17 at AJA. The goal was to open doors for 8th-12th grade girls through mini-classes and face-to-face networking opportunities in STEM subjects.

“Female role models are so important,” said Rivka Monheit, an AJA parent who chaired the Program Committee. She’s just one of the parents who reached deep into her Rolodex to find professional women to would share their passion for science and math with young high school women and become potential mentors. Monheit is a patent attorney who advises chemical firms and puts her science background to work every day. She is passionate about exposing girls to STEM early, so that if they do pursue science careers, they don’t fall into the so-called leaky pipeline. “There’s a 50% drop out rate of women leaving science careers or simply not advancing,” Monheit says. “We want to help girls get the right training and plot their course.”

The STEM Career Fair definitely lit a spark with AJA students. “The Young Women in STEM event was extremely empowering! I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but I never knew I wanted to be a doctor. This event gave me the courage and empowerment to keep going on and live up to my dreams with the strength of being a woman,” said Tali Feen, an AJA Upper School Student.

The mentors were similarly enthusiastic. Dr. Amanda Cooper Cohn, a Senior Advisor for Vaccines at CDC said, “I loved being at the Young Women in STEM Career fair both as a mother with my two teenage daughters and as a mentor.  Seeing the girls engaged with a variety of STEM professionals made me realize the world of opportunity is so much bigger for these girls than it was for me, which is exciting but also underscores the importance of mentoring girls through the process of entering STEM professions.  All the girls were curious, engaged, and interested in careers where they can make an impact. I also loved sharing my own path as well as hearing about the paths of the other amazing STEM volunteers at the fair.”

The STEM Fair was also the kick-off of a mentoring program for girls that will launch next school year. JumpSpark is the lead partner on this aspect of the initiative and is accepting applications that will match girls with STEM mentors. Find out more and apply here. Girls from any school are invited to apply. Applications are open now through April 17. Mentees will be notified June 2019.

What Teens Say About the Strong Women Fellowship

By COMMUNITY, JEWISH JOURNEYS, JumpSpark

JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship Expanding to Serve More Teens

Applications are now open for the second cohort of the Strong Women Fellowship. With the success of last year’s launch, and the support of Federation, JumpSpark is excited to expand the program to include peer leadership opportunities, community groups for ongoing connection and interaction based on geographic location.  Each month teens in the Strong Women Fellowship meet speakers, visit organizations and engage in relevant learning that speaks to what it means to be a woman in our times. Year two will feature an all-new, incredible slate of speakers including, Lindy Miller a former candidate for GA Public Service Commission, Whitney Fisch of Jewhungry the blog, Dr. Tarece JohnsonSOJOURN, and more. The program targets teens in grades 9-12. 

Here’s what participants say about the program: 

“My expectation of the Strong Women’s Fellowship cohort was totally different from the experience I actually had. Much to my surprise, and delight, there were no parasha readings or lessons on the history of Israel. Instead, I met so many accomplished, empowered, women at every meeting, I was inspired by their unique stories and enjoyed the discussions we had…but most of all I enjoyed having the opportunity to make friends with other Jewish girls. I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the city that I would have never met otherwise.”  – Ariel Raggs 

“The fellowship provided the opportunity to speak with other women across a range of ages, and through these discussions I grew as a woman and become a stronger and prouder Jewish woman, too. Women across the globe have been using their voices to advocate for what they believe in, and through this fellowship, I too, have been given tools to do the same in my Jewish community and hopefully across the world.” – Tamar Guggenhei

“[The Strong Women Fellowship] ended up being a place I could safely share my ideas and opinions with other girls who would listen. I didn’t think this group would affect my life very much, but it’s left me with new ideas and new friends. It gave me a whole new perspective on the world and other girls; it was so much more than I expected, and I’m grateful for all the experiences.” – Maya Laufer 

Learn more here. Applications are open to all Jewish teens in grades 9-12 from the Atlanta metro area. Reach out to Laura Gronek with any questions.

JumpSpark Professional Builds Careers

By COMMUNITY, JumpSpark

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s initiative for teen engagement, isn’t just for teens and parents of teens; it’s also for the professionals who work with them. JumpSpark Professional is a complementary initiative that’s building an infrastructure for Atlanta’s network of teen educators and engagement professionals. “We want them to be equipped to do great work, feel great about their jobs and build solid career paths. Our monthly events give professionals an opportunity to learn from experts. We are offering grants for Atlanta professionals to attend the Pardes Beit Midrash B’Darom, Feb. 15-18, and there’s an April workshop on Jewish Multiculturalism with Dr. Tarece Johnson of Global Purpose Approach,” Director Kelly Cohen said. 

Adam Griff, Director of NFTY-Southern Regional Area and Camp Coleman Machon Director, said, “JumpSpark is doing a phenomenal job of providing youth professionals with access to a really diverse set of opportunities. For me, the social media workshop last year provided some very tangible and useful tools and skills. The trip to Israel last year also gave me both an inspiring experience as well as some great new program ideas.” 

Ezra Flom, who runs the Shinshinim program in Atlanta, and manages the activities of eight post-high school Israeli teens, has already benefitted from JumpSpark Professional. “Thanks to JumpSpark Professional I was able to participate in the Teen Educators’ Innovation Conference in Israel. I brought back an array of tools and connections that helped me in my previous job, directing youth and family programs at Temple Kol Emeth, and now with the Shinshinim. Because of connections I made and strengthened, Shinshinim Altanta nearly doubled in its second year”