Seed Funding Will Launch “Jewish After School Accelerator” to Start Programs Across the U.S.

ATLANTA (March 15, 2023) – Jewish Kids Groups (JKG) has received a grant from The Marcus Foundation to launch the Jewish After School Accelerator to help synagogues and other Jewish organizations across the U.S. start their own Jewish after-school programs.

The Jewish after-school engagement model – founded in Atlanta by JKG with early support from The Marcus Foundation – makes lasting Jewish connection convenient by infusing Judaism into essential childcare services that families rely on every weekday afternoon. The accelerator will provide a turn-key path for synagogues and other Jewish organizations to establish and operate their own after-school programs.

Over the next two years, the Jewish After School Accelerator will support 11 organizations in the development and launch of new Jewish after-school programs. Participating organizations will receive guidance from experts and collaborate with other cohort members to recruit, train, and retain staff; structure transportation plans; customize the student curriculum; and market the after-school program to families. Accelerator participants will receive matching grants of up to $100,000 over three years to offset start-up costs. 

“We saw an opportunity to unite education and childcare with Jewish learning. Today’s families want and need programs like this, like RootOne, and like Hillel to grow children’s love of Judaism as they themselves grow,” said Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation.

Rabbi Dena Klein, Managing Director of New Models at The Jewish Education Project, commented, “The Jewish Education Project is excited to collaborate with Jewish Kids Groups on this important initiative that ensures that Jewish families can access more pathways to meaningful and impactful Jewish education.”

Independent Jewish after schools exist in a number of places around the country. Successful programs include Makom Community in Philadelphia, Pa.; MoEd in Washington, D.C.; the Jewish Enrichment Center in Hyde Park, Ill.; and Edah Community in Berkeley, Calif. JKG’s after-school program, which has been in operation for 10 years, serves 200 students each year in four Atlanta neighborhoods.

“We’ve built a successful program here in Atlanta, and people have been reaching out for many years to discuss replicating the program,” said Ana Robbins, founder and executive director of JKG. “In 2019, our professional team and board of directors decided it was time to figure out how we could help other communities establish Jewish after-school programs. Under the leadership of Rachel Dobbs Schwartz, JKG’s Chief Innovation Officer, the Jewish After School Accelerator was born, with the goal of making it easy and affordable for synagogues across the country to do just that.”

“The work we are doing to bring Jewish after school to other communities will elevate our program in Atlanta as well, so everyone benefits,” Robbins said. “I want to thank the ‘hometown heroes’ that made all of this possible, especially the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Bernie Marcus, and all of the Atlanta funders who helped seed and grow JKG locally. I also want to express my deep gratitude to all of JKG Atlanta’s teachers, staff, and families for their support over the years. We’re exporting an innovative program, and our city and community can be proud.”

Organization leaders interested in the Jewish After School Accelerator can learn more and apply for the 2023 or 2024 cohorts at www.jewishafterschools.com. Applications are due April 19, 2023.

The Jewish After School Accelerator is seeking additional philanthropic partners to bring Jewish after school to as many communities as possible. Funders who would like to support the initiative can learn more at www.jewishafterschools.com/funding.

About Jewish Kids Groups

Jewish Kids Groups (JKG) delivers camp-style Jewish learning, connection, and friendship to kids in Pre-K – 10th grade through JKG Afterschool, JKG B Mitzvah, and JKG Teen Leadership Academy. The organization, which was founded in Atlanta in 2012, provides a welcoming experience to all types of Jewish families including interfaith and unaffiliated families. In addition to its Atlanta programs, JKG leads the Jewish After School Accelerator to help organizations across the U.S. start their own Jewish after-school programs. Learn more at jewishkidsgroups.com and jewishafterschools.com.

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