Is this another two-year URJ initiative? Why is this initiative being called a campaign? Unlike other projects, the Campaign for Youth Engagement is urgently focused on working with a variety of partners to find strategies that will engage the majority of Reform Jewish youth by 2020. The CYE brought together a diverse group of more than 70 stakeholders who emphasized a focus on the people who build relationships with our youth, expanding immersive experiences and changing congregations.
How are you measuring engagement? While confirmation is a valued life cycle event, not the only way to measure post-bnai mitzvah engagement and the CYE has expanded its definition of engagement to include camps, NFTY, religious schools, visual and performing arts, community service and other avenues. Pilot programs like the Bnai Mitzvah Revolution and Teens Engaging Teens are empowering congregations and young people to explore and identify their own ways to define engagement.
What do you mean by youthwhat ages does this include? The Campaign launched with a focus on religious school through the end of high school, but also recognizes the need to involve entire families in Reform Jewish life. Collaborations with the URJs Expanding Our Reach team will seamlessly bridge the efforts of the CYE to college students, young adults and young families. How will the Campaign broaden the impact of immersive experiences? Research proves what so many already know: immersive experiences such as camp, Israel and summer programs are among the most effective strategies in creating strong Jewish identity. The CYE is committed to expanding existing immersive experiences and creating new ones. We are working hard to connect these experiences to congregations and to teens daily lives as part of a lifelong path of engagement.
What will the Campaign look like in my community? Rather than prescribe solutions, the CYE will work with individual congregations, clergy and their communities to find strategies that fit their unique size, geography, demographics and challenges. The right ideas are different in every situation and the URJ and CYE want to find and develop them together with congregations. The CYE recognizes the need for well-trained youth professionals and high-quality, innovative programs that can be implemented without being too expensive for many families and it is committed to working with member congregations to achieve this vision.
Is this just a Reform Movement endeavor? No. The CYE is committed to nurturing partnerships within the Reform Movement and with other Jewish and secular organizations. For example, the URJs camps have launched a training program bringing together its camp specialists with those from the National Ramah Commission to infuse Jewish ideas and values into their activities and to share best practices. In its first year, 102 specialists in six specialty areas have already participated. Partnerships like these challenge existing systems, support new ideas and create an environment for growth.
How is the Campaign being funded? The sustainability for the Campaign for Youth
Engagement strategies, programs, and commitment actions will come from a
variety of sources including individual contributions and foundation
funded grants. Funds
are needed to support the exciting growth in highly-qualified youth
staff, innovation grants, pilot programming, and program expansion. If
you are interested in helping support the Campaign for Youth
Engagement, please contact Christopher Haley, Director of Major gifts, at
212.650.4148 or via email at CHaley@urj.org.