Originally Published in The Times of Israel on April 22, 2022
UpStart, in its commitment to building Jewish communities that are thriving hubs of innovation, announces the ten entrepreneurial leaders of the 13th cohort of their flagship Venture Accelerator program. Doubling down on its commitment to social entrepreneurship, UpStart will support this new cohort in their efforts to tackle the Jewish community’s most pressing challenges.
Selected from a pool of more than 50 highly qualified applicants, these ten growth-stage ventures were chosen for their demonstrated track record of inclusivity, creativity, and vision. With UpStart’s support, they will provide critical solutions for burgeoning communities, underserved populations, and urgent communal issues.
These entrepreneurial ventures have already been a driving force in adapting Jewish communal life to meet the needs of our time. The Venture Accelerator will equip them with sustainable models for funding and growing impact, enabling them to serve Jewish communities across the country for years to come.
“The UpStart Venture Accelerator has powerfully transformed the way we work as a team, and in turn, our capacity to successfully serve LGBTQ+ and ally Jews. Having improved our organizational culture, efficiency, and systems through our involvement, we are better equipped to serve our growing community,” says Arya Maravazy, Managing Director of JQ International, Venture Accelerator Cohort 11 participant.
Below is the full list of ventures in Cohort 13 of the Venture Accelerator, and the cities in which they are based.
The Blue Dove Foundation (Atlanta, GA) – addresses mental illness and addiction in the Jewish community and beyond. Working with organizations and communities across the world.
Civic Spirit (New York, NY) – educates, inspires, and empowers schools across faith traditions to enhance civic belonging, knowledge, and responsibility in their student and faculty communities.
Dayenu (New York, NY) – confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. Drawing from Jewish tradition, experience, and faith, they are creating real and lasting change.
The Efshar Project (Denver, CO) – ensures that exemplary early education experiences, grounded in Jewish values, serve as a starting point for any family seeking high-quality, formative learning within a Jewish setting.
Ish Festival (Cincinnati, OH) – inspires pride in Jewish identity and heritage, celebrates Jewish cultural traditions, deepens connections to Jewish history and peoplehood, and fosters collaboration across differences.
Jewish Farmer Network (Fairview, NC) – mobilizes Jewish agricultural wisdom to build a more just and regenerative food system for all.
Mitsui Collective (Cleveland, OH) – builds resilient community through embodied Jewish practice and somatic antiracism.
Shefa (Berkley, CA) – builds a Jewish framework to integrate expanded states of consciousness and psychedelic experiences.
Shomer Collective (New York, NY) – inspires end-of-life conversations and experiences, guided by Jewish values.
Ta’amod (San Diego, CA) – transforms Jewish life by equipping institutions and individuals with the resources they need to build healthy, safe, and equitable workplaces.
“For years we’ve been watching the decline of traditional Jewish affiliation,” Says Aaron Katler, CEO of Upstart. “But we believe that if we make the right investments with the urgency the moment demands, this time can also be one of amazing revitalization. Our big bet is that Jewish social entrepreneurship is the engine of innovation for Jewish life. By partnering with the Jewish community’s boldest leaders…together we are expanding the picture of how anyone can find meaning and come together through Judaism.”
These ventures join a community of over 90 alumni organizations that have graduated from the UpStart Venture Accelerator program since 2006. Together, they continue to build a more just, vibrant, and inclusive Jewish future.
More information can be found at https://www.upstartlab.org/cohort-13/ and UpStart Strategic Plan