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September 2, 2015 | 18th Elul 5775
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5772 Year-end Report
Campaign for Youth Engagement
5772 Year-end Report

The URJ is committed to a long-­term Campaign for Youth Engagement (CYE). This 10 year campaign will ensure that, by 2020:
  1. The number of teens who participate in Jewish life after they become bar or bat mitzvah measurably increases;
  2. The duration of participation in Jewish life throughout the teen years is measurably extended;
  3. Teen engagement is qualitatively meaningful, occurring in the context of relationships with others and with Jewish content.
Goals of the CYE in 5772:
  • Hire URJ Director of Youth Engagement;
  • Create a small, effective Strategy Team of stakeholders;
  • Raise a significant amount of capital for innovation and expansion of effective programming;
  • Partner with Jewish youth organizations locally and on a North American scale;
  • Engage all constituencies in youth engagement and the CYE;
  • Foster on-­the-­ground cross-­congregational partnerships for effective youth engagement;
  • Expand our immersive program offerings;
  • Incubate congregational and communal innovation around youth engagement.
CYE has set the foundation for a successful, 10 year campaign by completing these goals through multiple endeavors. Highlights include:

Leadership and Support
  • Hired the Director of Youth Engagement, Rabbi Bradley Solmsen (Bradley began full-­time on September 4, 2012);
  • Selected URJ executive committee member, Daryl Messinger, to serve as Youth Engagement chair;
  • Raised more than $1,750,000 in funds;
  • Selected 15-­member Strategy Team, representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders from across the Reform Movement, its affiliates and partners from Hillel, and federations.
Program Innovation
  • Received funding from the Foundation for Jewish Camp to open the 14th URJ camp - 6 Points Technology and Science Academy, a specialty camp;
  • B’nai Mitzvah Revolution pilot launched in partnership with HUC and first cohort of fourteen congregations selected. November conference planning is underway;
  • All NFTY national and regional full and part-­time staff received training in relational meetings, a key tool of community organizing;
  • NaShir, the first intensive song­leading weekend-­workshop enabling teens to take advantage of songleading opportunities at temples, religious schools, youth groups and in NFTY attracted record number of participants (planning to replicate in other locations);
  • Launched a $150K master planning process to better understand and position Kutz Camp as a center for teen engagement.
  • NFTY partnered with 10 other organizations (including Keshet, No’ar Hadash, BBYO, Young Judaea, and USY ) on the first ever Jewish LGBTQ Teen Shabbaton in August;
  • Joint Maccabiah game held between BBYO and URJ Kutz Camp, supporting the ongoing work of the Coalition of Jewish Teens and the Campaign for Youth Engagement;
  • With support from AVI CHAI, the URJ and Ramah camping systems partnered to offer specialty counselor training infused with Jewish teaching and text in six areas: fine arts, sports instruction, performing arts, music, wilderness first aid and aquatics;
  • Partnered with six Pittsburgh congregations and the local federation to jointly hire and support a regional youth engagement professional;
  • More than 275 Jewish professionals and lay leaders participated in community conversations in San Diego (February), CCAR in Boston (March), Chicago (April), Philadelphia (May), Toronto (June), Boston, NATA Officers meeting in New York, CampsKutz, Harlam and Eisner (July), Washington DC, St. Louis, and New York (August).
CYE Goals for 5773:
  • Continue raising funds to support the Campaign;
  • Share ongoing lessons learned from the B'nai Mitzvah Revolution, develop experimental programming to pilot in all participating congregations;
  • Introduce the B'nai Mitzvah Revolution Action Network to allow additional congregations to participate in this vital project;
  • Implement a strategy to strengthen NFTY and Mitzvah Corps including staff expansion, and increased professional development;
  • Select a site and develop recruitment strategies for the 6 Points Science Academy to be located in the Boston area;
  • Continue planning, and recruiting and then implement the 2013 NFTY Convention and the Youth Engagement Conference for professionals and lay leaders in Los Angeles (February 2013);
  • Expand community conversations and follow up with communities thatare exploring regional and local strategies for youth engagement;
  • Examine the role of day camps as a way to extend and expand our reach;
  • Increase the number of specialty camp programs.


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