The 2019-20 philanthropists in the Giving Initiative for Teens wrapped up the second year of the program with a grant ceremony on Wednesday, May 27. Fifty teens from all over the greater Seattle area spent this past school year exploring Jewish values and working together to raise and allocate funds to distribute to local non-profits.
GIFT raised more than $28,000 and distributed nine grants for seven local organizations: Facing Homelessness, FareStart, Kent Youth and Family Services, Leket Israel, Recovery Café, Ryther, and Therapeutic Health Services.
Check out the replay of the Grant Ceremony:
Hear from some of the participants in their own words:
Sandor Weiss, Ingraham High School sophomore
The GIFT experience — that is, connecting with Jewish peers and discussing how to make change in the world — is one-of-a-kind. Throughout the course of the year, I connected to my Jewish roots by learning about values, teachings, and tzedakah, while putting them to use in the modern world of philanthropy.
Liza Jones, Sammamish High School senior
Participating in GIFT this year has opened my eyes to the fundraising world, and how amazing it is to help others. This opportunity was extremely fulfilling, fun, and challenging. Just because GIFT is over for me, it does not mean giving back is. I’m now more inspired to continue to make change in my community!
Elias Malakoff, SAAS sophomore
GIFT has taught me collaboration and leadership skills. I have met people that inspire me to work harder every day.
Gailen Greenstein, SAAS junior
GIFT has enabled me to become more in touch with my Jewish Identity and philanthropy. It has motivated me to continue to help my community in any way possible. I look forward to taking the lessons I have learned through GIFT with me into the world.
Ellie Gottesman, Mercer Island High School senior
GIFT has given me the opportunity to connect with driven, passionate Jewish teenagers from across the Seattle area. I am inspired not only by the work we do but the people I do it with.
Lucas Vorkoper, Mercer Island High School sophomore
GIFT has helped me grow into the adult world and understand how to accomplish things that matter. I have expanded my horizons, but I’ve also looked inwards as I explored my Jewish identity and values. I am so grateful for this program, and the skills and meaning I’ve elicited from it.
Ryleigh Grover, Sammamish High School freshman
Before I joined GIFT, I felt like I didn’t have much power to help change issues in my community, but now I feel inspired and empowered by what my cohort and I have accomplished. I feel so much more connected to the Jewish community, and I’ve learned so much about how Jewish values can help guide me throughout my life.
Ava Wampold, Mercer Island High School senior
GIFT has made me a more proactive Jew. Instead of just reading and talking about doing good in the world I have been able to actually take action and practice philanthropy.
Ben Tratt, U Prep senior
After participating in GIFT for two years, philanthropy has become a main value in my life. I’m always looking to learn about new causes so I can help in the best way possible. I can confidently say that I have made an impact on my community through GIFT. I’ll continue to hold what I’ve learned closely as I head into the future. I’m a #philanthropist4lyfe, and that’s awesome.
Applications and nominations for the 2020-21 Giving Initiative for Teens are now open. Learn more >>