Teens take initiative with philanthropy event

Posted on: December 30th, 2017 by tgregory

The seven teens organizing the upcoming B’nai Tzedek event trade ideas and divide up the work at a recent meeting. PHOTOGRAPH BY SHANNON SMALL

Nothing grabs attention like some cold cash, and the seven teen-agers gathered around a table at the Gordon JCC are definitely interested. 

Even if the money’s being used to teach them how to give away some of their own to help Jewish causes they believe in.

“This is my first year helping teens with the B’nai Tzedek program,” said Federation Financial Resource Philanthropic Officer Shannon Small. “I am hopeful this program will start teens on a meaningful path toward lifelong philanthropy.”

The teens are working together to organize an event – set for Sunday afternoon, March 4, at the JCC – to help other Jewish teens ages 13-18 learn how they can join the world of philanthropy. 

The theme they have chosen for the event is to match teens’ values and interests with an organization they can financially support through their fund and also work with. It’s all part of the B’nai Tzedek program of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. There are currently more than 370 B’nai Tzedeks in Nashville.

The B’nai Tzedek program establishes a Foundation account in the name of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah-age teen. The teen contributes $125, which is matched with $125 from the Al Feldman Memorial Fund, then $250 from the Feldman-Hassenfeld Fund for B’nai Tzedek. Both funds are housed at the Jewish Foundation.  As a result, the teen starts with a fund in the amount of $500 and a new philanthropist is born.

The teens meeting at the JCC with Small traded ideas on how to engage others. They talked about their top values – chosen from a deck of values cards – and learned they shared values such as resilience, effectiveness and acceptance. 

They outlined a game plan for the March event and set a date for future meetings. They will be texting or phoning other teens to invite them to the event. More than 60 teens are in the target age group. •