LAJTI Teen Program Accelerator Professionals Reflect On Their Experience

Two years ago, the Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative (LAJTI) launched its Teen Program Accelerator to strengthen existing organizations and offer enhanced Jewish experiences to meet teens' diverse interests. Since, eight teams of talented Jewish professionals from organizations across the city formed a cohort and supported each other in the creation and expansion of programs of excellence for L.A.’s Jewish teens. With yearly financial support and specialized entrepreneurial training and coaching, this band of professionals brought these programs to the next level.

The first Accelerator cohort was comprised of the following diverse organizations: BBYO: Entrepreneurship Summit, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters LA: Kibbutz Tzedek at Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus, JQ International: JQSA, Moving Traditions: Community Groups, Shalom Institute: LA Teen Adventures, Shalom Institute: Sherut L’Olam, Westside JCC: Maccabi Clash and Stephen Wise Temple: Readers to Leaders. On May 11, 2017, the community celebrated the culmination of the outgoing cohort’s work and welcomed the members of the Accelerator’s incoming cohort.

The feeling in the room was relaxed and festive as teen educators and community stakeholders mingled, enjoyed a buffet of eclectic foods, and engaged in meaningful conversations about the rewards and challenges of meeting the complex needs of today’s teens. Representatives from the cohort shared how the two-year Accelerator experience impacted their programs, their professional teams, and their organizations:

"My network has gone through the roof. I feel like I have a better relationship with the colleagues in my field, thanks to the Accelerator."
- Anna Goodman, JQ International

"Our team has been able to take the tools and resources that we gained through participation in the Accelerator and implement them throughout our agency."
- Eric Nicastro, Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus

"Our teens have begun to feel communally and socially connected. Their passion for our programming and for Jewish involvement has grown, which in turn leads to our goal of helping them live healthy and balanced lives."
- Ari Cohen, Westside JCC

"We were able to reach under-engaged Jewish teens who would not otherwise have access to our programs. The teens were able to find meaning, relevance, and support of peers and a trained mentor in a Jewish community."
- Beth Tigay, Moving Traditions

Stay tuned to learn about Cohort 2 of the Teen Program Accelerator!

For more information about the Teen Program Accelerator, e-mail Jessica Green at JGreen@JewishLA.org or call (323) 761-8343.

The Teen Program Accelerator is part of the L.A. Jewish Teen Initiative, co-funded by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation, with seed funding provided by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Program partners include UpStart, Etzah - an Initiative of the AJU Graduate Center for Education, and BJE Impact.

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