With a growing international footprint and new intensive trainings, resources, and consulting services, the Jewish Teen Funders Network has rebranded as Honeycomb (honeycomb.org), focusing on helping educators and community leaders run immersive Jewish philanthropy experiences and programs and other meaningful grantmaking activities for youth and families. Following more than a decade fostering Jewish teens’ philanthropy, Honeycomb recognizes the urgency—and opportunity—with Jewish youth today who want to create positive change in their communities and globally, inspired by their Jewish values and learning.
“Amid the global pandemic especially, Jewish youth see individuals and communities in desperate need and facing upheaval, and they want to make a difference,” says Wayne Green, Executive Director of Honeycomb. “We see many opportunities to connect Jewish youths’ strong desire to do good with philanthropy experiences that maximize impact and bring them the most meaning. Honeycomb is designed to infuse Jewish engagement efforts with the very best practices of youth philanthropy combined with Jewish learning.”
The name “Honeycomb” represents the interlocking elements of group philanthropy experiences and the richness — both in impact and in meaning — that comes from those experiences. Honey itself also carries special symbolism in Jewish traditions and stories, most notably when consumed on Rosh Hashanah. As part of the rebrand, Honeycomb has unveiled new programs, immersive trainings, curriculum development, and consultations available for educators and professionals who run youth philanthropy programs in a variety of settings — Federations, schools, synagogues, community centers, foundations, camps and elsewhere. Together, these individuals and the organizations in which they work comprise Honeycomb’s global network of Jewish youth philanthropy programs, which strengthen Jewish identity, develop leadership skills, and inspire a rising generation of Jewish philanthropists and changemakers.
Founded in 2006 as Jewish Teen Funders Network, a program of Jewish Funders Network, the organization initially helped organizations run different local Jewish youth philanthropy groups. When Green became Executive Director in 2017, the group began creating content and offering intensive trainings to teen-engagement professionals. Honeycomb’s new and broader field-building efforts today are helping to shape an entire generation of Jewish youth.
“Anyone who cares about meaningful Jewish youth engagement has a stake in elevating these philanthropic opportunities,” says Jeffrey Solomon, Board Chair of Honeycomb and a Senior Advisor at CHASBRO. “Jewish youth want to be a part of activities, including Jewish experiences, that bring meaning into their lives. Now is the right moment for Honeycomb to expand its work and help create more meaningful ways for Jewish youth to create change. This is the future of Jewish philanthropy, and we must get it right.”
A recent report, GIVE AND GROW: Jewish Teen Philanthropy’s Unique, Powerful, and Lasting Impact, shows that Jewish youth philanthropy experiences strengthening teens’ connections to Jewish life while cultivating a lasting desire to change the world. Even after a Jewish youth philanthropy program’s conclusion, when alumni leave home, they continue to demonstrate stronger Jewish identities, a deeper connection to Jewish community, and the inspiration, skills, and confidence to become leaders and changemakers in their own communities.
The kinds of immersive youth philanthropy experiences that Honeycomb helps train organizations to provide allow youth to fulfill all the roles of a funder board — from designing and reviewing grant applications, to distributing funds and reviewing grantee achievements.
“By the end of NatanFamily, teens were so excited about selecting grantees and finalizing the process,” says Adina Poupko, Director of Grants and Programs of Natan, which recently engaged Honeycomb to design and deliver a custom Jewish youth philanthropy experience for the children of its members. “They also really got a sense for what their parents do with Natan and why they spend all those hours at Natan meetings. It was wonderful to see the parents’ pride in watching their child have a giving circle experience.”
Regardless of the specific partnership or custom program, Honeycomb helps leaders create philanthropy experiences imbued with opportunities for youth to explore how Judaism feels relevant to their lives and future dreams; to build consensus with Jewish peers by hearing different views, listening to others, and compromising; and to make decisions that are consequential for communities and issues they care about.
“Now is the moment to deepen Jewish philanthropy experiences in youths’ lives,” adds Green. “We want more people and communities reaching out to us to join these efforts and becoming part of this transformative work.”