JumpSpark has awarded more than $266,000 in Spark Grant funding to six organizations working to expand programming for Jewish teens in Atlanta. A new grant program in 2019, Spark Grants allow JumpSpark to invest in the Jewish teen space in Atlanta through large-scale strategic grants. Renewable up to three years to support long-term program growth, these grants are intended to create and fund new programs and initiatives, support programmatic growth, and rethink existing models of teen engagement.

“In the fast-paced, demanding world teens live in today, the Jewish community must focus its resources to create diverse entry points to lifelong Jewish learning and community engagement,” says Kelly Cohen, JumpSpark Director.

After a discovery period in 2018 to understand the needs of Atlanta’s teen ecosystem – including teens, families of teens, and Jewish professionals that work with teens – and a pilot grantmaking cycle of $1,000 awards, JumpSpark opened a request for proposals that support community infrastructure growth, create new points of engagement, provide high-level Jewish learning, and foster collaboration and community-building opportunities in Atlanta.

The 2019 recipients are:

  • Creating Connected Communities – $39,000 to expand the successful Leadership Development Program.
  • In the City Camps – $45,000 to expand Camp Mogul business camps for middle school students.
  • Jewish Kids Groups – $36,850 to launch the Learner-Leader-Teacher Development Academy.
  • Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta – $70,000 to sponsor the VOX ATL-run Maccabi Star Reporter program and catalyze participation in the Atlanta-hosted 2019 Maccabi games into expanded year-round programming for teen athletes.
  • SOJOURN – $25,000 to pilot the Tum Tum program, a safe space for Jewish LGBTQ+ identified teens and allies to share, learn, and connect.
  • Union for Reform Judaism – $70,000 to launch the Teen Engagement Internship program, a year-round leadership and engagement model successfully piloted by the Northeast Teen Collective.

JumpSpark is a proud partner and innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. CEO Eric Robbins said, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is proud to drive this important initiative that is making incredible impact and investment in our teen community!”

As an invested partner, JumpSpark looks forward to building these programs with recipients and creating more opportunities for a vibrant Jewish life in Atlanta.

JumpSpark, Atlanta’s initiative for Jewish teen engagement, connects and invests in the community to create more meaningful and defining moments for Jewish teens in Atlanta. Serving teens, their parents, and educators that work with teens, JumpSpark offers empowering teen programs, Navigating Parenthood workshops, professional development, and grants. JumpSpark is supported as an innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, by the Jim Joseph Foundation, and by generous donors in the community.

Rachel Cohn

Coming into this meeting with the poet Caroline Rothstein about consent, I was prepared to have a difficult discussion about the reality of sexual abuse and rape culture. However, this meeting with Caroline pleasantly surprised me. We learned that you cannot give your consent to something without fully knowing who you are as a person.

Caroline speaking to the Strong Women

Caroline told us her struggles with finding her own identity in the form of beautiful poems. She spoke about the hardships she faced every day and the struggles with being a woman in society today. She spoke poetry about sexual abuse and her difficult eating disorder.

Caroline Rothstein

However, to me, the most noteworthy poem was about how despite all these burdens, she still showed up on the other side a strong woman who knew her strong identity. The words Caroline said truly spoke to me and it felt as though she knew me better than I knew myself. I was on the edge of my seat just wanting her to keep chanting about what she was passionate about, for I was also passionate about the same things.

Writing

After that, we had the opportunity to write our own poetry and I found it much easier than I anticipated. Our poems were about being Jewish and women or about being a Jewish woman. I had so much to say and found it inspiring that everyone else did as well. It was comforting to be in a room full of people who have the same beliefs and values as I do.

While I came into this meeting eager to learn about consent, I ended up learning more about identity and the importance it plays in knowing whether or not to give consent to something. Caroline was extremely empowering and I was grasping onto every last word she said. Although this meeting went much differently than expected, I am so grateful for that because what we talked about in this meeting, identity, and being a Jewish woman, are all so important to me and things that I will never stop caring about.