David Fisher, a PresenTense Fellow and one of the founders of Project CALL, brings together religiously and politically diverse students from Greater Boston and Harlan County, Kentucky. Participants come from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Humanist, Buddhist, and other backgrounds. Together they volunteer, learn from each other and collaborate to create positive social change.
He says one of the most important connections he’s made is with CJP’s PresenTense Fellowship, a program that provides young Jewish social innovators with the tools and networks to transform big ideas into ventures that engage, inspire and support Boston's Jewish community.
“Being a PresenTense fellow was a great blessing to me and to Project CALL,” says David. “PresenTense provided key connections to coaches, partners and funding opportunities to help me develop and expand my project.”
David got the idea for Project CALL while he was still a student at Oberlin College.
“As a third-year environmental studies and Jewish studies major, I was learning about environmental issues in ‘coal country,’ which is essentially in the Bible Belt—but I wasn’t hearing any perspectives from the folks who live there. I had never met an evangelical, conservative Republican,” explains David. “So I worked to organize a week-long alternative break partnering with an evangelical community service ministry there. I wanted to continue that work and bridge cultures and religions in order to foster collaboration, leadership and self-understanding.”
After college, David realized he needed more help to make Project CALL the life-changing program he knew it could be. He applied for and was awarded a CJP PresenTense Fellowship, and along with nine other Fellows he followed a curriculum that allowed him to benchmark his progress and test his ideas. He was matched with a volunteer business coach from the Boston community and given access to a network of experts.
“One of the greatest responsibilities—and one of the greatest opportunities—that Federations have is to reach new generations and engage them,” says CJP President Barry Shrage, who championed first bringing CJP's PresenTense Boston Fellowship to Boston in 2009. “These Fellows are social entrepreneurs who will help define the future, and their projects are truly inspiring.”
Thanks to your support, CJP’s PresenTense Boston Fellowship continues to grow as the hub for social innovators in Boston's Jewish community.