We're excited to announce that Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life's Ask Big Questions and J'Burgh, an initiative of The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, have been named two of the nation's 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot '12-'13, a resource guide for Jewish innovation.
Ask Big Questions was selected for this list because it is transforming the depth of conversation and relationships that college students are having with one another. J'Burgh serves more than 2,500 graduate students and young professionals in their twenties living in Pittsburgh, to provide a gateway for them to explore and develop their personal Jewish identity within the city. They were chosen for their best practices, including listening to their constituents and partnering across organizations.
Slingshot organizations grapple with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, social justice and tradition, each with different missions, perspectives and strategies. The Slingshot resource guide is distributed to 7,500 funders, foundation professionals, and organizational leaders annually, in addition to tens of thousands of online downloads. Readers use Slingshot to identify the most inspiring and trail blazing organizations, projects, and programs in the North American Jewish community today. Since its inception, Slingshot has highlighted 173 innovative Jewish organizations in North America.
Slingshot organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership, and organizational efficiency.
"It is an enormous honor to be selected by Slingshot as one of the 50 most innovative Jewish organizations in the country," said David Katz, Director of J'Burgh and Assistant Director of the Hillel JUC. "Appearing in the Slingshot Guide really shows how much the Pittsburgh Jewish community cares and invests in our young adults and graduate students."
Hillel's Senior Jewish Educator/Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative (SJE/CEI) has been part of Slingshot for the past two years and Ask Big Questions grew out of a project started by CEI interns at Northwestern University. It builds on many of the principles of SJE/CEI - infusing meaningful content into student networks, but with an approach that is both universally human and distinctively Jewish, inclusive of both Jews and non-Jews.
Sheila Katz (no relation to David), Associate Director of Ask Big Questions said, "Slingshot's recognition is a strong validation for the work Hillel continues to do. Ask Big Questions enables college students to deepen their humanity and their particularity, and to build their capacity to listen to people different from themselves. Ask Big Questions nurtures healthier communities, a healthier society, and a healthier Jewish people."
According to Julie Finkelstein, Program Director of Slingshot, "Slingshot is a celebration of those Jewish organizations and projects successfully breathing new energy into Jewish life. The guide highlights both newly formed organizations and innovative projects happening at established Jewish institutions, all making an impact by meeting the changing needs of today's Jewish community. This year, we received more applications than ever before, making the evaluation and selection process highly competitive."
Inspired six years ago by Slingshot, a group of next-generation philanthropists launched the Slingshot Fund, a collective giving mechanism to support innovative Jewish life. In just six cycles, 58 members of the Slingshot Fund have contributed more than $2.1 million to innovative Jewish organizations.
Slingshot '12-'13 was released on November 5, 2012. The community will meet on May 6th in New York City at the annual Slingshot Day, where over 250 not-for-profit leaders, foundation professionals, and funders of all ages will engage in candid conversations about philanthropy and innovation in the Jewish community.