Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative Evaluation
December 10th, 2015
Building on previous research, in 2014, Rose Community Foundation entered into a partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation to develop the Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative. The goal is to make greater Denver-Denver-Boulder area Jewish life relevant and meaningful to young people both now and later in their lives, with teens serving as active partners together with their peers, adults and community leaders in shaping their own Jewish journeys.
The Initiative has three objectives: to identify a few innovative Jewish teen programs and help them achieve incremental growth; to promote and support a shift in Jewish teen programming to models that intentionally foster adult-teen relationships; and to fund youth-initiated, youth-led programming that could connect and engage a wider circle of Jewish teens than those currently engaged in traditional Jewish youth programs. Initiative leaders believed with an infusion of funding and addition staff, a small group of grantees could move their vision forward. As the Initiative launched, the five key grantees—Jewish Student Connection (JSC), Moving Traditions (MT), Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative (BJTI), PresenTense Colorado (PT) and jHub—and the lead funders—Rose Community Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation—articulated a Theory of Change that specified the Initiative’s key strategies and target audiences.
From the start of working together, the Initiative leaders invested in evaluation in order to learn along the way about what works and what needs adjustment, and to document the impact of the Initiative overall. Informing Change was invited to evaluate the first three years of the Initiative.
During the Initiative’s first year, teen participants and their parents from the three grantee programs that were operational—JSC, Moving Traditions and BJTI—were invited to participate in a survey about their experiences in these programs and their involvement in Jewish life in their communities more broadly. Due to the low response rates, these baseline survey data should be viewed as illustrative rather than as representative in nature. However, the survey data provides insight into the teens’ experiences from two self-reported perspectives: teens and parents.