In September 2020, the Jewish Teen Initiative (JTI) moved to CJP, bringing together JTI’s strong brand and successful engagement strategy with CJP’s resources and broad reach.
With the help of our Teen Engagement Task Force Co-chairs, Michelle Black and Gayle Rubin, we're working to foster partnerships, innovation, and collaboration with professionals and organizations to better serve Jewish teens. We want to make sure that teens feel safe, secure, and connected to their Jewish community. We’re working on this by expanding access to resources and events and establishing connections across generations.
Our work is focused on three priorities:
- Connecting teens to one another
- Supporting the professionals who serve them
- Strengthening organizations
Jewish Teen Initiative Peer Leadership Fellow Program
We're proud to be working with more than 40 teens through the JTI Peer Leadership Fellow Program. Peer Leadership Fellows are trained to be catalysts to better connect with other teens and remove barriers to participation in Jewish life.
Through teen-led conversations and experiences, Fellows are helping to connect their peers to the menu of opportunities available to them and to other Jewish teens in Greater Boston and beyond. The Fellows are also creating a series of service days to support our broader community.
We’re also empowering teens to help fill the gaps in the programmatic menu and create more opportunities for connection, discussion, exploration, and action to address what's happening in the world around us. Resources, upcoming events, stories, and more can be found on JewishBostonTeens.com, a groundbreaking central website for all things #JewishBostonTeens.
Helping Teens by Helping the Professionals
To help the professionals serving and working with teens, we created the CJP Teen Engagement Network, which provides a community of practice to foster partnership, innovation, and collaboration between professionals and organizations. Professionals meet regularly for shared learning, growth, and networking. Through CJP, they also have access to additional resources such as mentoring and our professional development stipends, which provide continued learning that benefits the whole community.
CJP’s Teen Community Impact Grants allow our partners to move towards organizational growth and sustainability while creatively meeting the needs of their teen participants. By supporting programs and initiatives of all types, we’re helping teens feel a sense of belonging in Jewish life. Thanks to donors like you, and with the guidance of six lay leaders, we recently allocated $80,000 in grant money to community organizations serving teens.
Focusing on Mental Health
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many existing problems, and mental health has come to the forefront as a major issue for teens. We need to tackle this problem from all angles, and CJP has been working to provide support and resources to teens, professionals, and organizations.
We have 20 teens serving as Peer Inclusion Fellows to help reduce stigma around mental health. These teens will be developing resources, opportunities for teen connection, and content addressing stress, anxiety, and coping skills that they'll share during Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
In partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, CJP is providing Jewish educators and professionals with access to a Mental Health First Aid course to help them identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in teens. CJP is also providing workshops and grant funding to day schools, synagogues, youth groups, and others to train Jewish communal professionals on best practices around mental health in teens.
To have a strong, vibrant, inclusive Jewish community, we need to support the rising generation, as they will be our next leaders, our advocates, and our changemakers. We're excited about the work being done by and for our teens and hope you'll join us in supporting the young people in our community.