Applying class to the real world
Student used classroom knowledge in Jewish Funders Network
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 18:09
Rebecca Bachman’s ’13 experiences this summer seemed like a seamless continuation from her past year at Brandeis. As a summer intern involved in social justice and philanthropy, Bachman utilized the knowledge and skills she developed in the classroom.
This past summer, Bachman interned in Manhattan at the Jewish Teen Funders Network, a program of the Jewish Funders Network, which provides teens ages 13 to 18 the opportunity to allocate grants to nonprofit organizations.
JTFN works with over 100 teen foundations across the United States to engage these young adults in the grant making process. The programs are run by trained facilitators and are based in day schools, religious schools, synagogues, social service agencies, local Jewish Federations and endowment foundations, according to JTFN’s website.
Bachman was no stranger to the grant-making process. In fall 2011 she took Prof. Rebecca Riccio’s (Heller) “Social Justice and Philanthropy” course through the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis. The Learning by Giving Foundation provides a grant for the students to distribute $10,000 to a Waltham-based nonprofit organization of their choice. “It was powerful, because the Learning by Giving Foundation entrusted college students with [$10,000],” Bachman said.
Riccio’s class empowers students to take on leadership positions, since they met in groups as if they were members of a foundation, appointing a chairperson and note-taker. They chose a type of philanthropy to which they would like to give the grant based on the organization’s mission. After going through a decision making process, Bachman’s group chose to give to the Waltham Boys and Girls Club.
After a semester of learning about grants and philanthropic organizations, Bachman became passionate about the subject and well equipped to intern at JTFN. Bachman’s role during the summer was to compile information for the facilitators of JTFN’s 11 teen foundation programs throughout Long Island, N.Y.
Bachman had access to a curriculum in which she distributed to the facilitators a regional guidebook with unbiased information regarding Long Island’s needs and a docket of requests for proposals (RFP), which is a request for funding written by the non-profit organization to be sent to the teen foundation. Bachman also communicated with more than 40 non-profit organizations to inform them of the available grants and encouraged them to submit an RFP.
Bachman used her experience from her “Social Justice and Philanthropy” course and applied that towards JTFN. She helped the JTFN with curriculum development for the teen foundations along with reaching out to nonprofit organizations for the Stepping up Long Island Jewish Teen Philanthropy pilot, which is rolling out this fall through the JTFN. Through this program, nonprofit organizations can apply for grants if they fall under one of the five “need” categories present on Long Island, which are education, health, jobs, housing and hunger.
Bachman noted the similarities between the course she had taken at Brandeis and the curriculum of JTFN. “As college students, we had a lot of say in the whole grant-making process, and the curriculum of the Jewish Teen Funders Network empowers teens to have a huge part in the grant making process as well,” Bachman said.
In order to improve and enhance her knowledge of the world of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations, Bachman attended a conference, a facilitation workshop, listened to webinars and helped create ideas of how JTFN can use social media to their advantage, all in a 10-week internship with JTFN.
“My internship really combined my passion and my studies in an incredible way. As an Education and Sociology double major with a minor in Social Justice and Social Policy, [my internship] tied it all together in a way that I didn’t know was possible until it was completed,” Bachman reflected.
According to Bachman, studies have shown that teen philanthropy programs develop future leaders in our communities. She pointed out that JTFN emphasizes leadership and education among the teen participants.
Combining her experiences as a student and intern, Bachman will be a teacher’s assistant for Riccio’s “Social Justice and Philanthropy” this semester. “I’m really excited to be there as a resource [for the students] and to be able to take the class from a different perspective.”
Bachman’s passion for helping others was manifested this summer as an intern for JTFN. “I learned about whole grant-making process through social justice and philanthropy. And I also learned a lot about how a foundation works and that philanthropy education is a field in higher education and education in general,” she said.