The Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston (JTFGB) raised nearly $40,000 for several nonprofit recipients this year. Honorees will be presented with funds at a ceremony on May 18 at Hebrew College.

A collaboration between Waltham’s Gann Academy and Newton’s Hebrew College, JTFGB is a year-long philanthropic program for Jewish high-school students throughout the Boston area. It’s a big undertaking: Now in its second year, teenagers complete an application and interview process in which they explain why they’re interested in philanthropy and commit to monthly meetings and fundraising goals, says Gann Academy’s Danya Ravid.


The group is divided into two boards with roughly 25 teenagers each, one at Gann and the other at Hebrew College. Each board chooses its cause for the year beginning in mid-September, fundraises throughout the school year and allocates funds to selected organizations in the spring. This year, the teenagers chose to focus on mental health and domestic violence.

“Kids learn about the grant-making process, they learn about RFPs and most of all, they learn about consensus-building,” Ravid says.

Teenagers reviewed several RFPs from various nonprofits and visited applicants on-site throughout Boston, all while committing to raising at least $360 apiece. Donations typically come from family, friends and community members; in the process, teenagers learn proper fundraising outreach through letter-writing, email and door-to-door solicitation.

After a careful review, Gann’s board raised about $20,000 for mental health organizations Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Brothers for Life and Screening for Mental Health. The Hebrew College board allocated grants of about $20,000 to Jewish Family & Children’s Service TeenSafe, The Second Step, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and DOVE.

The site visits were especially moving, says Ravid, because kids were exposed to life beyond the shelter of their hometowns. It also underscored the importance of giving back in the Jewish community.

“I think this helps them develop a sense of Jewish identity. We’re not shoving it down their throat, but they’re giving through a Jewish lens, they’re doing philanthropy through a Jewish lens and many realize that they want to do this later in life. Talking to these organizations and seeing what goes on outside of their high schools is so beneficial, even when they go to college,” says Ravid.

Want to get involved? Learn more here.