The 2006-07 academic year will begin with an entrepreneurial spirit as Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life introduces the Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative on seven campuses this fall. This new internship program will employ students to develop new ways to reach out to their peers and engage them in Jewish campus life.
In the first, pilot year of the program, 12-student teams at Northwestern University; University of Arizona; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Maryland, College Park; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; and University of California, San Diego will brainstorm new approaches to connecting with uninvolved Jewish students. Drawing on their existing social networks and previous leadership experience, the entrepreneurs will encourage students from all corners of their campus – the athletic fields, the science labs and the theater troupes, for example – to foster their own meaningful Jewish experiences in ways that speak to their interests.
"Our Strategic Planning Process taught us that Hillel must be more welcoming to a broad cross-section of Jewish students on campus," explains Hillel International President Avraham Infeld. "It is our hope that these Campus Entrepreneurs will lead the way in this effort and will help us to fulfill our new mission: to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world."
The Campus Entrepreneurs will receive training throughout the year in the skills they will need to build their campus networks. They will begin their internship at a national training institute in August. In addition, the student entrepreneurs will travel to Israel during winter break with Hillel's Taglit-birthright israel program and will create follow-through programming for the other participants from their campuses upon their return.
The participating campuses are currently recruiting and interviewing potential entrepreneurs with extensive leadership experience, developed social networks and a dedication to Jewish values. Candidates must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 and submit a resume and essays, and they are encouraged to include a letter of recommendation from a university administrator or student government leader.
Though the initiative is limited to seven campuses for the 2006-07 year, Hillel hopes to expand beyond these campuses in the future. For more information about the program, please visit www.campusinitiative.org.