Let us help you build the future for Jewish Atlanta you want to see.

Kelly Cohen, JumpSpark Director

Since 2019, JumpSpark has strategically invested over $300,000 in the Atlanta Jewish teen community through Spark Grants, launching nine new teen programs and supporting the growth and development of six existing programs. Through these efforts JumpSpark grantees have reached hundreds of Jewish teens in our community providing high-level educational and engagement experiences. See past Spark Grant recipients ›

This year JumpSpark is doubling our bet on the Atlanta Jewish community and plans to invest $600,000 in programs that make a difference in the lives of Jewish teens and those who impact them. Our 2020 grant cycle includes three new types of grants to give more opportunities to a variety of programs, organizations, and individuals to apply.

Spark R&D Grants

As an Innovation Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, JumpSpark is committed to meeting the needs of teens today by supporting organizations to take risks and try something new. JumpSpark’s new Spark R&D Grants provide up to $25,000 to an organization or professional to research and develop new models of teen engagement and education. If the Atlanta Jewish community wants to meet the needs of teens today, the conditions must be created to allow organizations to take risks and try something new.

Drawing on the inspiration of Jewish Federation of North America’s FedLab, these grants ask grantees to “Discover, Define, Explore + Build and Plan + Act.” Funding can be used to support staffing, professional development and program creation and design. JumpSpark is specifically interested in funding new models in engagement, support, education and leadership development.

Teen Thriving Grants

JumpSpark’s new Teen Thriving Grants are a two-year initiative aimed at making an investment in the well-being and development of our Jewish teens. With anxiety and depression on the rise, and the world that teens are living in growing increasingly scary, our youth serving organizations must have the resources to be the first line of support for our teens.

These grants seek to answer the questions posed in the Gen Z Now Study done by the Jewish Education Project, which asks, “What would it mean for organizations to see teen well-being as central to their mandate, perhaps even the primary goal of their mission and how do we create a culture that helps those who work with teens become the trusted adults who teens need, working together to support teen flourishing? “

The Teen Thriving Grant will provide a full subsidy (travel and tuition) for one professional to attend the Jewish Education Project’s Thriving Retreat 2020 and additional grant funding up to $5,000 for Community Partners to build teen wellness support into their organizational structure. These funds can be used for additional professional development for teen serving staff, the inclusion of mental health professionals in the planning and running of teen events and/or direct programming for teens through speakers and workshops.

Navigating Parenthood Grants

As JumpSpark’s Navigating Parenthood Series moves into its 3rd year, the program continues to grow and thrive. With workshops, panels and films, Navigating Parenthood has equipped parents with the network and resources to raise thriving Jewish teens. JumpSpark’s new Navigating Parenthood grants are a two-year initiative to grow impact by providing funds for communities to bring speakers, workshops and support for parents in their home communities, which will help build a strong Jewish future through a networked and resourced parent community.

Parents are an essential component to an engaged and healthy Jewish teen population. The data shows that Jewish beliefs and practices are closely linked with family in the hearts and minds of teens. Being Jewish is not simply a religious or ethnic practice but also an expression of family bonds. Teens today enjoy spending time with their family and often look to their parents to help them make sense of the world.

Our Jewish community must learn from this data and recognize parent’s important role in the lives of teens and strive to meet their needs and address their challenges. Just as we must dedicate time and resources to the wellness of teens, we must do the same for parents and caregivers of teens in our community. Parenting teens today is hard, and parents are looking for supportive community and guidance.   

With funding up to $2,000 per Community Partner, a community could create one large event, a series of smaller events and classes or think innovatively about additional resources and events for parents of teens. JumpSpark staff is available to help develop these opportunities in partnership which will help build a strong Jewish future through a networked and resourced parent community.

JumpSpark connects the community and collaborates to create more defining moments for Jewish teens in Atlanta, and our Spark Grants provide funding and support for those with big ideas to invest in Atlanta’s Jewish teen community. We don’t simply stop with funding. Recipients of Spark Grants are those with a plan for community involvement and advancement with whom we build relationships and work together to make the biggest impact possible on Jewish teens and those in their sphere. – K.C.

ATLANTA, GA – The Atlanta Kesher Teen Engagement Fellowship, an exciting new peer- to- peer engagement opportunity for Jewish teens in grades 10-12 offered by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), has officially launched in Atlanta. The 15 fellows participating in 2019-20 represent 12 high schools, 6 synagogues, and 11 zip codes across the metro Atlanta area.

Based on the successful URJ North East Teen Collective’s approach to teen engagement, the Atlanta Kesher Fellowship brings a different engagement experience to Atlanta’s Jewish teens. Tailored training on peer to peer engagement allows teens to strengthen their relationship building skills, understand the importance of face to face communication, and learn a new way of engaging their peers.

Funded in part by a JumpSpark grant through the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, this fellowship doesn’t involve a strenuous amount of hours, rather it is created for the busy teen and allows them the to create their own schedules strengthening time management skills. Teens will develop a variety of practical business, social, and leadership skills throughout the fellowship and receive expert mentoring and support to create meaningful Jewish engagement for their peers. At the end they receive a $200 stipend for all their hard work!

“This model is unique in the Jewish teen landscape,” says Bobby Harris, Director of URJ Camp Coleman. “The teen fellows are creating experiences that are fun and meaningful for them and their friends instead of just trying to bring them to large scale programming.  Like the chavurah or ‘small circle’ model, this is about friends connecting to friends and building circles of peers living Jewish lives.”

The fellows are tasked with planning three small events (3-10 people) throughout the school year. These events include things, like a Shabbat dinner, Havdalah hike, or a philanthropic father and son basketball game. The idea is to create small events relating to Judaism that have large impacts on the teens who aren’t as engaged in Jewish life in Atlanta. Creating more ways for teens to positively interact with Judaism will allow them to pave their own Jewish journey and lead to a greater impact on their lives.

At the inaugural fellowship on November 17th, the teens learned the importance behind the work they are doing, why face -to -face communication is beneficial, and the power of inclusivity. The fellows left the kickoff ready to take on Jewish Atlanta!

Sophie Kieffer (18) reflected after meeting her fellowship peers at the kickoff: “I am excited to be a Kesher Fellow because I believe Jewish Atlanta is relying on today’s Jewish teens to ensure a strong Jewish Atlanta in the future.”

The 2019-20 Kesher Fellows Include:
Lola Bessoff, Temple Beth Tikvah
Adam Boehm, Temple Beth Tikvah
Tali Cohn, Temple Sinai
Danielle Faulhaber, Temple Kehillat Chaim
Harrison Frank, Temple Emanu-El
Nicole Frysh, Temple Sinai
Katie Hurwitz, Temple Beth Tikvah
Sophie Kieffer, Temple Sinai
Simon Klee, Congregation Gesher L’Torah
Andrew Levingston, Temple Sinai
Tali Lipton, Temple Sinai
Lily Ragals, Temple Emanu-El
Sara Serrano
Deirdre Weissman, Temple Kol Emeth
Sophie Wilson, Temple Beth Tikvah

“Our 2019-2020 fellows are a remarkable group. Not only do they represent a diverse range of Atlanta congregations, schools, and neighborhoods, they are smart, passionate, and excited to be part of this endeavor. We know that building relationships is the key to increasing engagement. I feel confident that this group of teens will help us push the needle and reach teens that until now have stayed on the sidelines of Jewish life,” says Adam Griff, Atlanta Kesher Fellowship Director.

The Union for Reform Judaism’s youth programs instill a sense of joy, compassion, and pride in being Jewish while nurturing a young person’s innate desire to make a difference in the world. Central to the URJ’s strategy is collaboration with Reform congregations, other Jewish organizations and individuals who are committed to youth engagement.

As an innovation initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, JumpSpark supports new projects in Atlanta that enhance Jewish engagement and build community among Jewish teens and preteens.

One new initiative launching in 2020 are Jewish Clubs at metro Atlanta middle schools. These pluralistic, non-denominational, and unaffiliated clubs give preteens a safe, low-barrier environment to hang out with other Jewish preteens at their school, fostering community and sense of Jewish values. Jewish clubs at many area high schools and a small number of middle schools – such as the Jewish Student Union, North Springs Charter School’s Jewish Culture Club, and the Jewish Federation’s grant to Chabad of North Fulton middle school clubs – have been very successful at creating welcoming spaces that Jewish teens and preteens gravitate towards each month and find lasting relationships with other Jewish youth.

To accelerate this success and create continuity for Jewish teens in Atlanta, JumpSpark is working with community parents and teens to launch even more clubs. With a helpful toolkit and a Spark Grant to support costs, JumpSpark is equipping families to create clubs in their schools.

Jewish middle school clubs meet once a month at a time that’s convenient for your community. Middle schoolers will gather over food and have social time to get to know each other. The preteens will also engage in a short, fun activity with Jewish content led by a local Jewish educator. 

Interested in a club at your teen’s school? Learn more below!

Your Role As a Parent

As a parent, your role will be to help sponsor the launch of a Jewish club within your teen’s middle school. JumpSpark will offer support on the direction and vision for the club in its first year and as a partner, will provide program planning, curriculum, and financial resources throughout the year. 

After the pilot year, JumpSpark will offer grants to parents taking on more of the club’s program planning of the club. JumpSpark will continue to support the conceptualization and execution of monthly club meetings. 

Steps to Success 

  1. Decide on a creative club name that fits with your school’s culture 
  2. Connect with Jewish teachers or teachers interested in supporting Jewish students to be official club sponsors 
  3. Meet with the principal or upper school administration to talk about the club objectives 
  4. Put together a list of communication mediums to use recruit and disperse info for parents and students 
  5. Run the first meeting 
  6. Watch your teen’s Jewish identity grow! 

What Parents Are Saying

As a parent of two middle school kids, I see the value in a Jewish middle school club to instill in the kids their sense of community and appreciation for their cultural. While this does not have to be an exclusive club for only Jewish students, it does provide a sense of identity for kids and allows them to share their perspectives and experiences with their peer network.” – Ben Taube

One great thing about our large public middle school is the true and vast diversity of the student body. In this environment, though, it can be difficult for my daughters to meet and foster friendships with other Jewish students. This club allows for Jewish students in different grades and from different elementary schools to meet and to explore their shared valued and beliefs. It also provides an opportunity for interested non-Jewish students to learn more about Judaism and to work on service projects together.” – Sydnei Terry Rubenstein

Questions? Interested in starting your own club? Contact Annie Fortnow, Engagement Manager, at annie.fortnow@jumpsparkatl.org or (847) 848-0860.