Like many Jewish communities, the Denver Metro area has experienced declining numbers of post-bar and bat mitzvah-aged youth participating in Jewish life. The Jewish Life Committee of Rose Community Foundation and Allied Jewish Federation sought re-invigorate Jewish life for teens in the area. After gathering feedback and data to identify the communities’ highest needs in engaging this group of Jewish youth, they set out to create more proactive grantmaking opportunities that support teen-centered, collaborative communities where teens can be their authentic selves. Thus, the Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative was born and became one of the many cities across the US intentionally engaged in this work. For more on the nationwide impetus for funding teen community engagement initiatives, please see our case study, Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way.
As part of an effort that spans the Denver and Boulder metro area, the Rose Community Foundation selected five grantees to create these opportunities for teens to engage in Jewish life. Throughout 2015, Informing Change partnered with Rose Community Foundation and grantees to gather data from teens, parents, professionals and community leaders to understand the Initiative’s first-year successes, challenges and early lessons learned. This report begins to answer research questions on how grantees are developing, both independently and as a collective, and the Initiative’s progress toward engaging teens overall, with an eye toward the Initiative’s planned trajectory over the next four years.
As the Initiative’s first report, this document establishes a baseline for the Denver and Boulder communities as well as a reference point for other Jewish Teen Initiatives across the US on coordinating a start-up Initiative, why Jewish teens engage in these types of opportunities and how organizations can collaborate to promote and support one another.