Mapping Jewish Social Entrepreneurship

The past decade has seen an upsurge of new energy being brought to bear by individuals and organizations seeking to foster positive change both within and beyond the Jewish community. The impact of these individuals and organizations is already being felt in Jewish education, spiritual life, arts and culture, technology, human services, and in efforts aimed at achieving social justice and preventing environmental catastrophe. These Jewish social entrepreneurs and emerging leaders are being encouraged and supported, in turn, by a growing number of programs and funders through incubators, fellowships, training programs, grants, and other vehicles. The potential of this nascent global field of Jewish social entrepreneurship and new leadership development to strengthen and transform Jewish life and the wider society is enormous. But, there are also significant challenges to be met if this potential is to be realized.

One step toward enhancing the impact of these individuals, programs, and organizations is to enable the broad range of stakeholders involved to come together to learn from one another and to address the array of issues that will affect the sustainability and effectiveness of these initiatives. As a result, this past September the first ever Consultation on Jewish Social Entrepreneurship and New Leadership Development was held in New York. The program was sponsored and co-ordinated by the Lippman-Kanfer Institute at JESNA and the UJC. Geared towards communal professionals, funders and innovators, this passionate and diverse audience came together to learn, to network, and most important to find ways to go forward together.

As part of the project to enhance the impact and begin the dialogue, the same two organizations undertook an endeavor to “map” the field: to help all of us learn who is doing what, where, and how. Forty-one organizations completed a survey highlighting their mission and supporting activities along with providing details on how they measure success.

You can download a pdf (JSE-profiles) containing the responses.