A great deal of energy has been spent over the past two years on an attempt to increase Kesher Newton’s exposure in the community.  Various strategies have been employed to further this objective, including building our mailing list and e-mail distribution list, revamping our website, and embracing social media like twitter, facebook, and jewishboston.com to spread our message.  On top of all of the excitement at Kesher this year, with our record created at: 2010-08-30enrollment and incredible ruach, we have begun to see the fruits of our labor.

Kesher has historically been a wonderful program that nobody knew about – that is no longer the case!  Our play, which was featured on the events page of jewishboston.com, in the newsletter of the JCC, and in the pages of the Newton Tab, packed the gym and got rave reviews.  Articles about Kesher have been written, featured, and tweeted and posted on both our website and beyond- over two hundred people viewed the Kol Nidre and Cello article that was posted in September, and Kesher was prominently featured in a cover article in the Baltimore Jewish Times.  Recently, Combined Jewish Philanthropies has reached out to us to apply for funding for special education grants and technology fellowships, and to consult on their supplementary education agenda, and other organizations have been in touch with us to talk about ways to support what we are doing.  It’s wonderful to see how Kesher has become a topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the community.

Perhaps the most exciting new piece of news just occurred this week.  I was selected to participate in the CJP/PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowship on behalf of Kesher as an organizational intrapreneur.  This exciting endeavor, a partnership between CJP and PresenTense, an innovation fellowship based in Jerusalem, is designed

to equip young, Jewish social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial professionals in Greater Boston with the tools, networks and ideas they need to build and sustain successful ventures that provide meaningful avenues for engagement and impact.  In addition, the program intends on creating a community devoted to inspiring and supporting social entrepreneurship and innovation in Boston, and thereby affecting the greater community of Boston and the world.”

Based on the success of our monthly Rosh Hodesh girls’ group, and my desire to develop an exciting, community-based program rooted in Jewish learning, technology, a connection to Israel, and Jewish identity-building for teen boys, I applied to participate in the fellowship to focus on the development of a similar program for that audience. 

Over the course of the five-month fellowship, PresenTense will provide its fellows with skill-building sessions and intensive seminars to teach core entrepreneurial skills and proficiencies, mentorships from professional and lay leaders in the field, and coaching and peer workshops.  Participating in PresenTense will help us to develop links and connections with community members and funders who would be interested in both supporting this innovation and hearing more about Kesher.  It’s a win-win for us, and will help us in our work to become more widely known in the community and beyond. 

My hope is to use the skills and training of the PresenTense fellowship to both bring this program to life at Kesher and to develop a replicable model for use by a wider audience.   (Even before PresenTense, we had decided to pilot a program in the spring for our 6th and 7th grade boys.  Stay tuned for more on this new initiative!)

Interested in helping us spread our message?  Want to hear more about the excitement in these areas?  Give me a call or send me an e-mail.  It’s a great time to be involved with Kesher.  For more information on the CJP/PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, click here.

Dan