PresenTense Group Launches Jewish Teen Accelerator in Denver/Boulder

PT_logo-100x100The PresenTense Group has been awarded a two-year, $460,466 grant to launch Denver’s first Jewish Teen Accelerator program in partnership with Rose Community Foundation, Rose Youth Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation. Currently titled Jewish Teens Make it Happen (#JTMIH), the program will launch in the spring of 2015, adapting PresenTense’s turnkey accelerator model to support teens in building entrepreneurial projects that engage their peers in meaningful Jewish experiences and activities that make a difference in the Jewish Denver/Boulder community and beyond.

#JTMIH is one of five new programs launching under the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative in Denver/Boulder, designed to increase the number and diversity of high-school age Jewish teens participating in Jewish education and engagement experiences and to deepen the quality and diversity of those experiences. Denver/Boulder is a pilot city launching teen initiatives within the framework of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s national-local funder collaborative, a coalition of national and local funders with plans to co-invest in up to ten new community-based teen education initiatives in the country. The National Incubator for Community Based Jewish Teen Education Initiatives, led by The Jewish Education Project, offers strategic guidance and other support to these communities as well.

PresenTense’s accelerators have been successfully adapted to a variety of markets, including abridged programs for teens in partnership with BBYO and JTS’s List College. #JTMIH will be the first longer-term accelerator for teens, focusing on skill development and community engagement to build lasting connections between teens and the Jewish community. Teens will be involved in all aspects of the accelerator, including serving on the volunteer Steering Committee to set the vision for the program and engaging their peers from diverse populations. Former camp counselors and young professional volunteers will serve as coaches and mentors to the Fellows. Participants in Rose Youth Foundation will be involved to build closer connections between philanthropy, community engagement and entrepreneurial training among teens.

The #JTMIH Fellows will participate in a six-month social entrepreneurship boot camp to train them in implementing their projects, including monthly workshops, roundtable discussions with high-profile guest speakers, meetings with mentors, coaches, subject matter experts, and fellow clusters. The program will culminate in a festive, community-wide Launch Night showcasing the work of the participants. Throughout all components, the PresenTense curriculum weaves themes of Jewish values and identity, empowering Fellows to articulate and further refine the Jewish basis of their social impact ventures and the motivation for their involvement in Jewish life. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to receive micro-grants for the programs they create. The teen-led projects will engage their own peers, creating exponential engagement across the community.

#JTMIH joins the PresenTense network as the eighth North American accelerator and a global network of 19 accelerators with additional programs throughout Israel, Russia, and Latvia.