Leveraging Social Networks for Student Engagement: Scaling a Successful Hillel Pilot Program
In 2008, Hillel began testing an innovative program that leveraged peer networks and relationships to help Hillel achieve its goal of “doubling the number of Jewish students who are involved in Jewish life and who have meaningful Jewish experiences.” Piloted at 10 colleges, Hillel’s Senior Jewish Educators and Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative (SJE/CEI) recruited and trained student interns to engage their campus peers in Jewish conversation and activities; it also featured “Jewish educators” whose role was to help stimulate deeper learning and growth among students interested in exploring their Judaism.
Hillel’s current aspiration is to scale a slightly modified version of the pilot program to 60+ more campuses in the next five years. This case study summarizes the lessons learned from the first four years of the SJE/CEI pilot program, as well as additional learning surfaced during the “planning for scale” project. Many of these lessons are relevant to any group — nonprofit or funder — seeking to scale its impact by leveraging social networks.