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Posts from the ‘Volunteering’ Category

Reflections on a Philanthropist’s Journey

By Hallie Goldstein, Alumni Council, Marin/San Francisco Jewish Teen Foundation

Reflecting back on my seventh grade self, I feel as if I did not have nearly as much philanthropic knowledge as I do today. When I was in seventh grade, I knew that giving tzedakah was a wonderful thing to do, but I did not know much beyond that. Frankly, my seventh grade concerns had more to do with my social life than tzedakah. Read more

Philanthropy in Action

By Michaela Katz, Jewish Teen Foundation Alumnae

On Friday March 1, the Marin/SF Jewish Teen Foundation alumni and one member of the Marin/SF Jewish Teen Foundation Leadership Council visited Canal Alliance, an organization that the MSFJTF donated to in 2012 to see the effect of our grant to their Youth Scholarship Program (YSP). Read more

Announcing the recipient of the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Young Leadership

Each year we honor a recipient of the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Young Leadership. Recipients are consistent leaders in our Federation volunteer community, have great potential for future leadership, and are 40 years old or younger. Please join us in congratulating this year’s recipient, Brett Goldstein. Read more

Peer Tutoring Program Helps Struggling Elementary School Students

By Isabel-Duarte Gray, Program Assistant, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)

Every Tuesday morning, 33 Gideon Hausner 8th graders pile into parent carpools and ride to Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View, where they spend the morning building the literacy skills of K-3rd grade students. In their assigned classrooms, the teen tutors work one-on-one with the younger students, wander the classroom providing help as needed, or sometimes lead groups to enhance their tutees’ reading skills through cooperative exercises. “As I read with them, I try to use techniques that I remember from when I was younger that helped me learn to read,” says Lucy, an 8th grader taking part in the peer-tutoring program. “For me, what is most important is that I want them to know that I love reading too, and that I am helping with it not because I was sent to, but because I want them to develop the same love of reading that I have.” Read more

Unique Fellowship Empowers Young Adults

By Adam Pollack, JCF Federation Fellow

I recently read an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled, “Boards Are Not Ready for the Next Generation of Trustees,” by Rick Moyers in which he describes the inefficiencies of boards and how that is a turnoff for young adults eager to get involved. The author approached this topic from the side of what current board members must do to change the ways boards function, ultimately making them more appealing to members of my generation. Two major questions are raised for me: how do we spark interest among young adults to become involved in communal life in the first place; and what can communities do to prepare engaged young adults for board service? Read more

Super Sunday Blood Drive in Honor of Ann Bear

ann bear

There are many ways to help on Super Sunday. Remember a life by saving a life – join us for a blood drive in memory of Ann Bear, z’l.  Ann was a great community leader and friend to the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

WHEN: January 27, 2013 | 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
WHERE: Bloodmobile outside JCCSF, 3200 California Street, SF

To schedule your life-saving appointment (walk-ins welcome!), please visit: click “Donate Blood” & enter Sponsor Code: JCCSFCares

An Artistic Approach to Increasing Literacy

by Judy Pam-Bycel, JCL Program Manager, and Randi Dodick Fields, JCL Bay Area Director

JCL Tutor and artist, Joan Frenkel

Longtime Jewish Coalition for Literacy tutor, Joan Frenkel, loves inspiring curiosity in children.  “I was raised by a mother who imparted in me the importance of working to help other people, rather than just yourself.” Joan is a sculptor who spent almost 40 years as the Chief Scenic Artist for the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet until retiring in 2010.  She’s been a volunteer reading tutor with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL) for the last 13 years- since the program started in the Bay Area.  Joan began by tutoring one child a week, but found she liked it so much, she wanted to do more.  Tutoring ‘’taps into my curiosity,” she says, and “gives me the opportunity to impart the love of reading in children…I end up learning more myself!”

Today, Joan tutors at Starr King Elementary School in San Francisco, volunteering five days a week for two-and-a-half hours each day.  As part of her tutoring, she reads individually with each student in the kindergarten class as well as tutoring five 2nd grade students.  Most of her students, she says, are English Learner students, who have grown up without speaking English at home. “I was never a teacher,” she says, “but I can tell when a child is having trouble and I want to make their life happier.”

Joan has gotten so much out of her tutoring experience with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy that she started to think creatively about ways she could help even more.
Being an artist, she came up with the idea of holding an art exhibition to benefit JCL, since she knows that the organization must raise all its own funds, which is especially difficult in a tough economy.  Joan was willing to donate proceeds from sales of her sculptural works to the cause, and she pitched the idea to a local Palo Alto art gallery.  The gallery liked the idea, as did several other local artists who also wanted to participate.

Joan and Artists

Participating Artistis, left to right: Ellen Brook, Joan Frenkel, Sandy Ostrau, and Karen Benioff Friedman. Not pictured: Ruth-Anne Siegel and Wo Schiffman.

As a result, six artists including Joan, who work in ceramics, textile arts, mixed media, printmaking and oils, participated in a 10-day benefit art exhibition for JCL at the Fibre Arts Design Studio in Palo Alto (JCL exhibition), which concluded on September 2.  More than 100 people attended the festive opening reception on August 23.  Participating artists, along with the Gallery, donated a portion of all sales to the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, a joint project of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Nine works sold during the exhibition, raising close to $4000 in support of JCL’s work to fight illiteracy among the most at-risk students in local public schools. The JCL serves about 1,000 predominately Latino, Asian and African American students annually, in 45 of the most under-resourced public elementary schools and after school programs in the Bay Area.   If you have just one hour a week, you can become a JCL tutor.  Register for one of JCL’s free  upcoming tutor training workshops at

The Jewish Coalition for Literacy is funded in part by a $95,000 JCF annual grant and is a joint project of Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Meet the 2012 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awardees

Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards

This week, the Helen Diller Family Foundation celebrated outstanding California teenagers working to make a difference at the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards luncheon. Five exceptional teens were recognized for their volunteer work with an Award and $36,000 to further their college education or their vision of tikkun olam (repairing the world). These videos, which premiered at the luncheon, showcase their hard work and dedication.

Zak Kukoff, Thousand Oaks, CA

“We bring students together to build understanding and friendships.”

Zak founded Autism Ambassadors after seeing his autistic cousin ostracized and alienated in the classroom.  Moved by her experience, he created this peer-led program to foster friendships between students with and without autism, and to teach autistic students social, emotional and academic skills.

Joe Langerman, Coronado, CA

“Be a part of the solution to end hatred and embrace tolerance.”

Joe stood up to bullying by starting Voices Against Cruelty, Hatred and Intolerance. He has engaged and educated teachers, students and parents about the prevalence and impact of bullying, combating intolerance at his own school and beyond.

Daniel Rosenthal, Santa Rosa, CA

“Magic takes you on adventures–without ever leaving your seat, hospital bed or wheelchair.”

As an eight-year-old, Daniel began performing magic tricks for hospital patients. Inspired by the healing power of laughter, he established Magic is Medicine, coordinating other volunteer magicians who give magic shows in hospitals, schools and rehabilitation and assisted living centers across the country.

Adam Weinstein, Los Angeles, CA

“Sparking  interest in math and science enriches students’ lives and betters our world.”

Adam’s love for math and science encouraged him to share his passion with underprivileged fifth graders in Los Angeles. He started Archimedes Learning to teach students through fun, hands-on and creative activities  and demonstrations – setting them up to succeed in two subjects that are vital to their and America’s future.

Celine Yousefzadeh, Los Angeles, CA

“Through fashion, we can engage and empower students to take action to help Israel.”

Celine felt a responsibility to help students in S’derot, Israel, after Gaza Strip rocket attacks devastated their high school. She began Fashion with Compassion, an annual event that turns hundreds of students each year into fashion show models, planners and philanthropists raising money for Israeli charities.

The Diller Teen Initiatives are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Jewish Coalition for Literacy Enriches Lives and Builds Relationships

By Isabel Duarte-Gray, Program Assistant at the Jewish Community Relations Council

The night before Jerilyn Gelt learned about the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, she enjoyed an unexpected phone conversation with the 10-year-old daughter of a family friend. “I asked her why she was up so late, and she said ‘I’m reading a book,’” explained Jerilyn. “I asked ‘Isn’t it fun when you find an author you really like?’ And she said, ‘Yes, and sometimes I like to be in the book!’”

The next day, Jerilyn attended services for Rosh Hashanah, where her Rabbi addressed the role of Jews as the “People of the Book” and encouraged his congregation to consider volunteering at the Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Remembering the vitality and enthusiasm of the child she’d spoken to the night before, Jerilyn quickly signed up to volunteer with JCL as a tutor.

Jerilyn and her former JCL tutee, Jamila Grizzard, at Jamila’s high school graduation in May.

Jerilyn is one of hundreds of Jewish Coalition for Literacy volunteers who are trained and placed with K-3 students in underserved Bay Area public schools and after-school programs. The program offers an hour of individual literacy training per week to over 1,000 local public school students, distributes thousands of new and gently used children’s books to its partner schools and students, and hosts multilingual training workshops to help parents of JCL students bring the love of reading home. JCL is a wonderful opportunity for Jewish community members to practice Tikkun Olam and help support under-resourced California public school systems in their own neighborhoods.

When Jerilyn joined JCL twelve years ago, she was searching for something “more meaningful” from her community outreach work. These days, Jerilyn has her hands full, serving as President of the  Jewish Community Relations Council,  but she still makes time for tutoring through the Jewish Coalition for Literacy. “It’s invaluable,” she explained.

“I’d guess that most of the children tutored by JCL volunteers rarely if ever  get to spend an hour a day or even a half hour a day with an adult who focuses just on them.”

Jewish Coalition for Literacy tutors have produced remarkable results. Teachers report that JCL students increase an average of three reading levels per school year. Moreover, 95% of JCL pupils show improvement in reading comprehension, 97% become more motivated to read in class, and 95% demonstrate more confidence in their ability to read aloud. With more than half of California children in the 4th grade reading below grade level, the Jewish Coalition for Literacy provides much-needed support to children during a crucial period in their development. Jerilyn can attest to the lasting impact of JCL’s program first-hand, as she recently attended the high school graduation of one of her former JCL students.

Jerilyn began tutoring Jamila Grizzard through JCL when Jamila had just begun the fourth grade at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, a public elementary school in San Francisco’s Castro district.  Although Jamila struggled with reading disabilities, she and Jerilyn persevered and she showed steady improvement. At the end of the school year, Jamila and her mother asked Jerilyn to continue tutoring her, which she did through Middle School and even occasionally in high school . For the next eight years, the two met in libraries, at the Boys and Girls club, and even on weekends to study and enjoy cultural events. One week they’d work on a presentation for social studies, the next they would explore the San Francisco Arboretum. This spring, Jerilyn looked on proudly as Jamila accepted her high school diploma and was accepted to San Francisco City College. She will be the first member of her family to attend college when she begins this fall.

The Jewish Coalition for Literacy provides more than reading resources and support to underserved communities—it enriches the lives of all its participants, tutors and students alike. “The [JCL] experience is really beyond giving money,” Jerilyn emphasized. “It’s giving of your time, and I think that the more time you give with these little kids, the more you see it matters.”

Become a JCL tutor
Register for one of the upcoming free tutor training workshops at

The Jewish Coalition for Literacy is funded in part by a $95,000 JCF annual grant and is a joint project of Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

JCF Increasing Capacity Through Pro-Bono Consultancy

One of JCF’s most effective capacity building strategies is our pro-bono services that leverage the expertise of professionals in the Jewish community on behalf of Jewish nonprofits. Recently, we chatted with Sarah Levin, Executive Director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) and Tracy Akresh, a professional coach, whom we connected with Sarah as a pro-bono executive coach. The below interview describes their experience, both receiving and giving pro-bono help.

What motivated you to seek pro-bono consulting help through the Federation?

Sarah Levin: As a small non-profit organization, with room to grow in nearly every direction, the pro-bono consulting service provided by the Federation was irresistible.  With room to define our needs and determine our own objectives with the consultant, we received impactful and incredibly effective support. What small, growing non-profit wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to receive professional, pro-bono consulting services?

With room to define our needs and determine our own objectives with the consultant, we received impactful and incredibly effective support. -Sarah Levin

Tracy Akresh: As an executive coach and owner of unpackingthebox professional coaching, I am always looking for new opportunities to expand my coaching offering and help new clients. When I met Bab Freiberg, the Director of Strategic Consulting at the Jewish Community Federation, I was impressed by the proposal to provide coaching and consulting services to executive directors at Jewish organizations. Executive Directors often do not have the time and resources to get the training and coaching that is so critical to the senior leadership of any organization. I felt I was in a unique position to really help make a difference. I have 15 years of hands-on leadership experience at large companies such as Ernst & Young, JPMorgan, Esurance, and Hewlett Packard. I like working with experienced, emerging, and transitioning leaders who are looking to be better at what they do while gaining more work/life balance and personal satisfaction. This opportunity allows me to help experts in their field become expert in business and team management. I focus on helping leaders re-think leadership behaviors, cultivate unique strengths, apply business best practices, take planful action, and focus on what they truly love. This program is a great opportunity to help build stronger organizations for the Jewish community.

Executive Directors often do not have the time and resources to get training and coaching — I felt I was in a unique position to really help make a difference. -Tracy Akresh

What results/impact did you get out of the experience?

SL: Tracy provided our office with new tools to utilize our individual strengths in the workplace. On an organization level, she provided us with useful templates and various resources to help our internal operations and general management.  Additionally, she helped facilitate our annual board retreat which was incredibly useful.

TA:  Jimena (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) is very special agency.  Because I am Sephardic I felt aligned with the mission of the organization. While the content of our engagement is confidential, the director set up her goals early in the coaching process. We focused on identifying and cultivating her unique strengths and leadership practices so that she could be an even more effective leader. From a technical perspective we reviewed goals and objective setting, staff and board development, motivation, accountability, and project prioritization. We also integrated strategic planning for the organization and performance management into our discussions. We were able to make a lot of progress in just a few short months.

Would you seek pro-bono consulting help again?

SL: Yes – receiving support and guidance from an objective outside consultant was a fantastic and useful experience.

TA: I would happily serve the community again as a pro-bono consultant. This program builds good will in the community and through executive coaching, we are building stronger organizations by developing talent at the director and executive levels. This type of coaching also allows agencies to reduce expenses and potentially increase business. Professional consultants typically charge $150-$300/hour for this type of work.  Elevating a director’s leadership skills can create more time to focus on programing and fundraising.

For further information about Federation’s pro-bono practice–visit or contact

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