Report: Jewish Teen Foundations Gave Away Over $750,000 in 2012

The Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN), a youth philanthropy project of the Jewish Funders Network, released the findings of its 4th annual survey, “Where did the Money Go? Trends in Jewish Teen Foundation Giving.” The survey gathers data from the growing field of Jewish teen foundations operating in synagogues, schools, federations, central agencies and summer camps throughout North America.

Teen foundations bring together groups of teens, ages 13-18, as “teen foundation board members,” for an intensive educational and grantmaking process. Participants learn about Jewish values related to giving, while also exploring their family and personal values. As philanthropists-in-training, they learn about the non-profit sector, how to create a mission statement, evaluate grant proposals, make site visits, and engage in a consensus-building process with their peers. The process is built on giving away real money, with each teen foundation building a grantmaking pool out of funds contributed directly by teen participants (often some of the money they received as Bar or Bat Mitzvah gifts), local donors, and/or funds raised by the teens.

With 50 teen foundations responding to the survey, key findings include the following:

  • Approximately 1,700 teens participated in Jewish teen foundations in 2011-12.
  • Collectively, these 50 teen foundations awarded 296 grants totaling $759,626 in the 2011–12 program year. This is a 52% increase in funding over 2008-09, when 20 teen foundations reported $499,445 in grants.
  • Teen foundations “spread the wealth” among many nonprofits: 83% of grants were for less than $5,000. Overall, 60% of grants went to local organizations, 19% to international organizations, 13% to Israeli organizations, and 8% to national organizations.
  • Program participants got hands-on, conducting in-person site-visits to local non-profits, and even visiting distant organizations via Skype.
  • 60% of teen-foundation grants were to Jewish organizations.
  • Top funding areas included: youth/children, poverty, education, families, and Jewish identity.