USY Distributes First-Ever “Chapter Engagement and Innovation Grant”


The local chapter is the foundation of USY. That’s why, this year, USY launched the Chapter Engagement and Innovation Grant.

Last week, USY distributed over $22,000 in grants to 13 chapters across the country. The awards, which ranged from $1,500 to $3,000, are meant to encourage groundbreaking programming and innovation in the USY chapter.

Read about the full list of winning chapters below.

Congregation Beth Judea — Long Grove, IL (CHUSY)

While Congregation Beth Judea has an award-winning USY program for high school students, winning USY International Chapter of the Year 2016-2017, but currently does not have bandwidth to focus on programming for younger kids to the extent that it would like. This grant money will help the kehilla hire an advisor that would focus purely on building a strong program at the younger level, which is vital for the future success of the chapter.

Beth El Synagogue — Omaha, NE (EMTZA)

Since universities in Nebraska do not have thriving Jewish populations, the staff at Beth El plans to use this grant money to organize a Shabbaton at the University of Kansas so the Jewish teens of Omaha could see what a Jewish college community looks like. They plan to spend a weekend touring the University of Kansas, eating Shabbat dinner at the University of Kansas Hillel House, davening at a local synagogue or Chabad House, and meeting Jewish students so their USYers know it will be possible to continue their Jewish lifestyles when they begin college.

Temple Beth Am — Los Angeles, CA (Far West)

Temple Beth Am will use its grant money to partner with Tzedeck America to organize three full-day social action projects for teens in 7th through 12th grades. The USY Social Action Program, as they call it, will enable teens to discover various social action opportunities and provide a Jewish lens to wellness and tikkun olam with the hopes of engaging more teens who are passionate about social action and repairing the world.

Congregation B’nai Israel — Toms River, NJ (Hagalil)

With this grant money, Congregation B’nai Israel will organize a two-part program that will raise its teens’ awareness of Jewish and Israeli culture. It will involve a program in the synagogue and a trip to Philadelphia to go to the Jewish History Museum and eat at an Israeli restaurant.

MTUSY — Nashville, TN (Hanegev)

MTUSY will use its grant money to hire more qualified staff to effectively recruit and retain members.

Merrick Jewish Center — Merrick, NY (METNY)

Merrick Jewish Center wants to bring in the speaker Scott Fried to present a program about strategies for building successful relationships as well as self-awareness with the goal of educating teens about healthy social interactions and friendships.

Temple Sinai — Dresher, PA (Mizrach)

Temple Sinai is going to start a speaker/workshop series for its 11th and 12th grade teens. The first speaker will lead a session on mindfulness and stress management techniques, which will be beneficial as the teens navigate the pressures of college applications and the SAT.

Herzl-Ner Tamid — Mercer Island, WA (Pinwheel)

This grant money will help HNT start Gesher (Bridge), a new leadership initiative for eighth graders. The program, which will meet one Sunday a month during the kehilla’s religious school, will include educational materials, speakers, and breakfast.

Beth Israel Congregation — Owings Mills, MD (Seaboard)

Beth Israel plans to use its grant money to hire an additional staff member who will work solely with Kadima. The chapter hopes that by focusing on its middle schoolers, starting with sixth graders, younger kids will feel a closer sense of community with the kehilla and will continue to stay involved after B’nai Mitzvot years.

Beth Sholom Congregation — Frederick, MD (Seaboard)

Beth Sholom Congregation wants to update its teen lounge to create a safe and welcoming space for its teens to engage with each other. The revamped space will be the perfect location for the kehilla’s twice-monthly Homework Club, providing high schoolers a place to study and socialize.

Temple Beth-El — Richmond, VA (Seaboard)

Temple Beth-El plans to collaborate with another Conservative synagogue in Richmond to expand and improve the connection of Jewish youth to each other and to the Conservative movement. The grant money will go towards their youth groups to make this happen.

Ohavi Zedeck Synagogue — Burlington, VT (Tzafon)

This grant money will go towards starting a Kadima chapter, with the goal of planning five events during the 2018-2019 school year.

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