What is ROI Anyway?

With the opening last night in Jerusalem of the 3rd ROI Summit, and the kick-off to eJP’s Summer of Innovation, here is just a brief introduction to ROI, the history and mission.

History: Originally funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Bernie Marcus Foundation, ROI was developed as a partnership between Taglit-Birthright Israel and the Israel Democracy Institute in 2005. With the establishment of the Center for Leadership Initiatives (CLI) in 2006, ROI became a unique partnership between Taglit-Birthright Israel and CLI, a US-based operating foundation with funding from Lynn Schusterman. After two successful ROI Global Summits, ROI expanded its efforts to include regional gatherings for participants as well as grant awards for exceptionally innovative projects. The ROI team hopes to continuously expand their global reach and impact in support of emerging Jewish leaders who are bringing fresh ideas and innovation to their communities.

Mission: ROI is a global initiative aimed at recognizing a new generation of future Jewish leaders. With the guidance of the Center for Leadership Initiatives and Taglit-Birthright Israel, as well as the vision and generosity of Lynn Schusterman, the ROI members represent a network of passionate and engaged young leaders residing in over 30 countries. ROI’s goal is to gather these determined innovators who embody the return on the community’s investment (ROI) of engaging Jewish programs like Taglit-Birthright Israel. ROI’s annual summits, regional gatherings and grant awards were created as a means to facilitate new models for Jewish involvement, identity and expression.

The ROI Summit gathers 120 selected participants to Jerusalem each year. This four-day event unites young Jewish innovators with like-minded peers, mentors and professionals in an effort to develop and promote current and new innovative initiatives.

ROI regional gatherings bring together past and prospective community members for regionally-based collaborative exchanges. Each gathering is geared towards offering professional skills sessions, in addition to networking and project development opportunities.

The ROI Grants program supports the innovative ideas being generated by members of the ROI community. Recipients are offered seed funding to kick-start their innovative projects. Grants are awarded based on proof of concept, potential reach and measurable impact. In 2008, $100,000 worth of ROI Grants were awarded to 35 recipients.