What does the future of Jewish social start-ups look like? Beginning this week, 70 social innovators will enter five local PresenTense Fellowships in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia where they will transform their ideas that address real social problems into sustainable ventures launched into the community. Ventures range in focus from Jewish education to the environment, social action to art and culture, and everything in between.
Nearly doubling the amount of Fellows accepted through the previous four years, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia are ready to introduce the next Jewish leaders to the communities they will be serving. The PresenTense Fellowship is a 5-month program which trains Jewish social entrepreneurs to develop and grow initiatives to transform their local communities. It is an expansion of PresenTense’s Global Summer Institute, currently entering its fifth year, which trains social innovators in an intensive six-week program.
The Fellowship is made up of seven interconnected modules. Fellows participate in a holistic program including professional mentors, personal coaches, and a curriculum based in cutting-edge business and entrepreneurship theory. At the end of the program Fellows participate in launch night, the culmination of the Fellows’ hard work – a final celebration of innovation when the entrepreneurs pitch and present their ventures to their local community.
“We are thrilled for each of the 13 individuals chosen to be this year’s Fellows,” Eric Ritvo, Boston Steering Committee member said. “The diversity of ideas, personalities and backgrounds combine to make a magnificent class. Being in Boston, an area where entrepreneurship is fostered, provided for an increase in applications and high quality ideas. My only regret as a Co-Chair of the Steering Committee is that we could not accept everyone!” “In addition to engaging with the community, I’m looking forward to understanding more about the process where ideas for ventures become fully functioning businesses,” Justin Kadis, New York City Steering Committee member said. “The chance to help launch innovative start-ups and participate with people who have exciting new ideas will be rewarding.”
Ventures include The Jewish Teacher Corps, which would send recent college graduates from the Boston area to teach for a year in non-urban Jewish community day schools across the country; Gelt Rush, an online resource that aggregates funding opportunities including scholarships, grants and fellowships; and Green Religious Campuses, which aims to use tree planting and greening activities at Jewish institutions as a vehicle for engaging young people in contributing to their communities.