by Maya Bernstein and Charlie Schwartz
Last fall, in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Brandeis University’s Office High School Program, decided to replicate their highly successful summer programs year-round. They wanted to engage both the teens who attend their summer programs, and teens less engaged in Jewish communal offerings throughout the year. After sifting through various ideas regarding how to approach this new initiative, the staff decided to use Design Thinking as a methodology – both because it is a cutting-edge initiative in education that they had not yet tapped, and also because they were hoping to use the methodology as a way of engaging teens to design their own Jewish experiences. They hired UpStart Bay Area to collaborate on 5 half-day workshops, and the experiment kicked off.