JEWISHcolorado and Judaism Your Way embarked on a social and educational initiative for young Jewish adults this year.
The Jewish Philanthropic Educational Group (JPEG) brought together 12 young adults from Denver and Boulder in their 20s, 30s and early 40s to learn collectively about and experience the process of philanthropy, and to make a greater impact through group giving.
For participants, JPEG was a year-long charitable exercise, intended to teach young professionals about the philanthropic process and motivation to give, based on Jewish values and traditions.
A focus on philanthropy through a Jewish lens, tying back discussions to tzedakah and tikkun olam, helped participants develop the knowledge and skills to apply their own charitable giving in effective ways.
JPEG met monthly from February to December, and was facilitated by co-creators Devon Schad and Samantha Raizen Walsh.
Schad and Walsh have both participated in similar giving circles in recent years.
“As soon as I heard about JPEG I knew it was a perfect fit for YAD,” said Schad, Young Adult Dept. director at JEWISHcolorado.
“YAD has a three-tiered strategy of ‘live, give and lead Jewish,’ and this program perfectly fits the goal of ‘give’Jewish by developing the understanding of tzedakah,” Schad said.
GUEST speakers at many of the monthly meetings illuminated different aspects of charitable giving, Jewish giving and strategically evaluating charities.
Speakers included Caryn Aviv of Judaism Your Way, Doug Seserman and Gretchen Koplin of JEWISHcolorado, and Bruce DeBoskey of the DeBoskey Group.
“The speakers provided great perspective,” said Amy Zeppelin, a JPEG 2013 participant. “They helped me craft a framework for future giving decisions.”
The JPEG members then spent sessions nominating non-profit organization in their five chosen issue areas: health care and prevention, art and art institutions, environment, youth development and education, and Jewish causes.
The group decided to distribute their $3,000 corpus evenly to three organizations: Colorado Uplift, to support achievement and mentorship in Denver Public Schools; GrowHaus, with a focus on community agriculture and nutrition; and The Eating Disorder Foundation, to combat these destructive and stigmatized mental illnesses.
THESE organizations best fit within the group’s common charitable priorities — financial efficiency and transparency, a strong balance between systemic change and charity, and a well-conceived long-term vision.
The group’s final session was facilitated by Marty Zimmerman of Zim Consulting, who provided both a practical and theological background for philanthropy.
Schad and Walsh were careful to document the process they went through, and have compiled a facilitator’s guide for future JPEG programs.
“My vision for this program was always bigger than just this inaugural cohort,” commented Walsh. “Our goal was to create a framework where others could take the program and lead it for a new group, allowing many more young adults to have this experience.”
JPEG 2013 participants were Hannah Ashar, Richard Blumberg, Manda Burke, Mallory Bustow, Jessica Fishman, Dena Gottesman, Alan H. Frosh, Lior Lapid, Courtney Levin, Lindsey Rabinowitz, Brandon Rattiner and Amy Zeppelin.
They represent a diversity of personal and professional backgrounds, as well as philanthropic experiences and interests.