The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, has announced its third cohort of six winning nonprofit organizations that it will support through its Impact Accelerator. The organizations chosen for this year’s cohort are working to address issues that impact the Jewish community including charitable engagement, promoting religious female creativity, reducing the number of Jewish bodies cremated, and education.
The OU Impact Accelerator is designed to provide mentorship-based growth and early-stage funding for Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs with the next groundbreaking ideas, over the course of a 12-month program.
The six winners were chosen from 51 applicants. The third cohort of the OU’s Impact Accelerator will include:
• ATARA, based in Montreal and Boston, provides Torah-observant female creative and performing artists with opportunities to express creativity, advance professionally, and connect to a like-minded community. The group encourages and promotes artistic excellence aligned with Torah values as a way for Jewish artists to use their gifts in service of their religious growth.
• Torah Institute Beyond Campus (TIBC), based out of Cleveland, OH, is a virtual beit midrash for college students with the motivation and need for a community of spiritual growth and Torah study.
• Last Kindness, based out of New Jersey, is a nonprofit focused on stemming the rise in cremation amongst American Jewry through awareness, education, and practical assistance.
• Penimi, based out of New York, focuses on confronting contemporary challenges facing Jewish youth who are growing up in the Digital Age. By providing relevant curricula, workshops, and comprehensive trainings to educators and parents across the globe, the group helps to empower youth to navigate their lives as Torah true individuals with strong core values that will lead to positive interactions with technology and social media.
• My Tzedakah Fund, based in Jerusalem, hopes to empower the next generation of Jewish donors to be active charitable givers. It was established to help Jewish millennials create their charitable legacies and become committed participants in the Jewish nonprofit space.
• The City of Gold by Torah Live is a self-paced, educational platform for children to craft their own journey through Torah learning by completing an endless playlist of short films, infographics, quizzes, and real-world challenges. Through gamification, the children are also able to unlock real world donations to the poor of Jerusalem.
The OU’s Impact Accelerator, led by Jenna Beltser and the Accelerator Executive Board, chaired by Riverdale’s Ezra Friedberg, will pair members of the selected cohort with experienced professional mentors and provide them with OU resources and network infrastructure.
The entrepreneurs will take part in a customized curriculum of business skills, coaching, funding, and implementation strategies over the next 12-months to accelerate their ventures.
“The organizations we chose for the third cohort are dedicated to creating solutions and opportunities for our community at a time when we need to be thinking about new and creative solutions,” said Beltser. “We are excited to work with them and provide resources and guidance to help them expand the impact they will make within the community.”
“Our goal for the Impact Accelerator is to nurture early stage Jewish communal projects and to inspire a greater focus on social entrepreneurship,” said Orthodox Union president, Moishe Bane. “The winning groups are more geographically diverse than ever before, introducing new and innovative ways of educating children and young adults, helping us fulfill the mitzvah of charity, empowering us to choose proper Jewish burial and to combat a rise in Jewish bodies that are being cremated, and providing female members of our community with a platform to express their artistic creativity aligned with Torah values.”
“Our community is blessed with many wonderful projects and dreamers with visions to develop innovative solutions to issues impacting our community,” said Orthodox Union executive vice president, Rabbi Moshe Hauer. “Our goal with the Impact Accelerator program is to harness their passion and provide them with access to the tools and mentorship they need in order to help their concept flourish.”
Launched in early 2018, the OU Impact Accelerator was created to provide mentorship and early-stage funding for Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs and their ventures. To learn more about the Impact Accelerator and to participate in their virtual Demo-Day honoring their outgoing cohort on March 8, sign up at OU.org/accelerator/demoday.