As we first reported on June 11th, BBYO and PANIM – have now joined forces:
On September 1, 2009, BBYO established the PANIM Institute as a division of BBYO. The PANIM Institute will offer compelling content and experiences to Jewish institutions and teens focused on service, advocacy and philanthropy, ultimately creating a movement of young activists ready to take on the challenges facing society and the Jewish community.
“This signals an important change in how the Jewish community confronts issues,” said Howard Wohl, BBYO’s Chairman of the Board. “By joining forces, two key Jewish organizations create a more efficient structure. We’re coupling PANIM’s 20-year track record of providing engaging programs in Jewish values with BBYO’s growing network of 28,000 Jewish teens, regional structure of talented professionals and advanced technology. This is the way forward to create a more hopeful Jewish future.”
The two organizations began exploratory discussions several months ago when PANIM founder Rabbi Sid Schwarz decided to step down as President and CEO. Professional and volunteer leaders from both sides quickly saw an opportunity to bring together two organizations whose missions and core competencies would not only complement, but also build on one another.
“PANIM offers a captivating curriculum around topics that are of proven interest to teens,” said Matthew Grossman, BBYO’s Executive Director. “Mobilizing BBYO’s vast network of young people with community building tools and a sense of purpose will attract their peers who have not yet found a connection to Judaism. Offering experiences and content that appeal to the altruistic instincts of the teen audience is yet another opportunity for BBYO to strengthen the Jewish people.”
“Ultimately, we are building a cross-institutional grassroots network of young people who have the skills and tools to take action on issues that are important to them and to the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, the Director of the PANIM Institute. “Together, we will be able to create new technological platforms, forge unique partnerships with Jewish and secular organizations and significantly expand and enhance our programmatic offerings to get more teens engaged.”
While new strategies are being developed, the PANIM Institute will continue to offer PANIM’s signature Panim el Panim program along with its summer service programs and J-Serve. These programs will provide the same high quality programs to its existing network of feeder institutions, including synagogues, day schools, JCC’s and Hebrew high schools.
Making the PANIM Institute possible was a six month fundraising campaign by leaders of both PANIM and BBYO that led to $3.5 million being pledged over a three-year period, including $2.5 million contributed by a range of Jewish philanthropists. The additional $1 million was raised by PANIM’s outgoing board to provide scholarships for teens and their families who cannot afford to participate in programs.