by Elana Boehm
One year ago, the CJP/PresenTense Boston Social Entrepreneur Fellowship was just an idea – a short-term program to train the next generation of Jewish leaders and to support and connect their ideas and passions.
Many people questioned whether we could find 12 young Jewish innovators in Boston – innovators who were willing to spend five months developing skills and networking with key community leaders in order to launch ventures that would change the landscape of Jewish Boston.
People also wondered whether we’d be able to identify and mobilize enough community volunteers to steer and implement the program. And many people questioned whether we could raise the money to finance this Fellowship and support the fellow’ ventures in this economic climate.
Today we have built a Fellowship that provides local young innovative leaders with the tools and networks they need to build sustainable ventures that engage the Boston Jewish community – while mobilizing hundreds of members of the community through the 12 ventures and the idea of innovation in the Boston Jewish community.
The innagural CJP/PresenTense Fellowship features 12 exceptional Jewish young adults, selected from a pool of almost three times that number. The fellows have been championed along by a Steering Committee of 16 stand-out volunteers who have set the strategic direction of the program, and 25 impressive local entrepreneurs, executive directors, venture capitalists, and consultants who volunteered their time to mentor the fellows, teaching them important skills to ensure their success. Over the past five months, the fellows, their ventures, and the program at large have galvanized hundreds of people in Boston and beyond towards supporting innovation in the Boston Jewish community and the next generation of Jewish leaders and their ideas.
In the words of one of the most important members of the Boston Jewish community, Justice Louis Brandeis, “Most of the things worth doing in this world have been declared impossible before they were done.”
Our fellows are launching ventures that some may consider impossible. Now equipped with the practical tools and large network of supporters and advocates they need, our fellows will succeed as change makers in the global Jewish community.
I know that you will be impressed by the inaugural members of the CJP/PresenTense Boston Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. Let their passion for the Jewish community, commitment to making the world a better place, and excitement for learning be an inspiration for us all.
Elana Boehm is the Boston Fellowship Coordinator.
The Boston Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship is a project of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston.
image: Boston Launch Night; courtesy PresenTense