WHITE PLAINS, NY (October 25, 2013) ― J-Teen Leadership, a teen-led Jewish social-action non-profit, is one of North America’s top 50 innovative Jewish organizations, according to the ninth annual Slingshot Guide, a prestigious go-to resource for volunteers, activists and donors seeking to support the most cutting-edge and effective Jewish organizations and programs in the nation.
J-Teen Leadership was selected from hundreds of finalists reviewed by 83 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life. The Slingshot evaluators based their assessments on a range of factors, including each organization’s innovative approach, the impact of its work, leadership and effectiveness in achieving results.
The Slingshot Guide praises J-Teen Leadership “for its clear focus on service and leadership” and “relevance to the lives of Jewish teens of all Jewish denominations” as it encourages teens to participate in service projects and provides them with significant leadership opportunities.
“As a unique model of teen engagement that is authentically teen-driven — started for teens by teens, we are profoundly honored to be included in the Slingshot Guide,” said Abbe Marcus, J-Teen Leadership’s executive director.
As evidence of the ways in which J-Teen Leadership cultivates leadership abilities, Josh Goldstein, now a Harvard freshman, spearheaded J-Teen Leadership’s application for Slingshot recognition while still a high school student. “I wanted to bring J-Teen Leadership into the conversation as an emerging Jewish organization and to make it part of the larger community,” said the Mamaroneck resident. “It had a wonderful impact on me in high school, and I wanted to help J-Teen Leadership grow in the coming years to provide other teens with the opportunities I had.”
Slingshot’s recognition is a critical step for selected organizations to attain additional funding and expand the reach of their work. While they are now eligible for grants from the Slingshot Fund, the Guide also serves an important resource for donors seeking to support organizations that are transforming the world in novel and interesting ways.
With support from UJA-Federation of New York, J-Teen Leadership was launched eight years ago by high school sophomores Amanda Bilski and Aaron Marcus to assist families that Hurricane Katrina displaced in the Gulf region. The teen-led group has since initiated, as well as participated in, not only national but international and local volunteer service projects, from Far Rockaway to Haiti to Cuba. Currently, the organization, which focuses on social justice, philanthropy and advocacy, has more than 500 active participants throughout Westchester and parts of Connecticut and plans to expand.
“We’ve grown exponentially, adding more participants each year, and as part of the Slingshot Guide, we are excited about the opportunity to engage more teens in community service wherever the needs occur,” said J-Teen Leadership Co-Chair Marc Hersch, a high school senior from Scarsdale.