UpStart is Jim Joseph Foundation’s Featured Grantee

May 17, 2017  | Jim Joseph Foundation

As it marks its 10-year anniversary and completes a landmark merger, UpStart embarks on its next phase to support communities advancing innovation in Jewish education and Jewish life. A coordinated group of funders is helping to elevate UpStart’s role as a national intermediary supporting Jewish innovation and serving as a one-stop shop for the tools, network, and resources innovators need to succeed.

When UpStart adopted us, we had a vision and a couple of successful events, and we believed that our idea had what it would take to become an amazing organization. In truth, we had no idea what it would take and I don’t think we could have gotten here without UpStart. – Julie Wolk, Co-Founder, Board Member, Wilderness Torah

UpStart recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary with a community celebration honoring its founding CEO, Toby Rubin, in San Francisco. Originally launched as an Accelerator for early-stage Jewish organizations bringing something fresh and relevant to Jewish life, UpStart later expanded its services to support long-standing institutions in opening up new pathways for impact.

Within the first year of joining the Accelerator, KAHAL doubled in every conceivable metric, from participants, to dollars, to staff. That trajectory has only continued, and now we’re poised to serve thousands more students across the world. – Alex Jakubowski, Executive Director, KAHAL: Your Jewish Home Abroad

With the new coordinated funding, UpStart is poised to complete the merger with Joshua Venture Group, Bikkurim, and the U.S. programs of PresenTense; to embark on critical planning processes; and to continue UpStart’s and the other merged organizations’ current programs. At the same time, the organization will work to fulfill its new and expanded vision: Expansion of programs to nurture innovation at every stage of organizational life; Increase in resources flowing into Jewish innovation, including more seed funding for innovative programs/initiatives; Investment in field-based research and evaluation of impact; Harnessing the power of a larger, more diverse innovation network; and Connecting a growing network of independent cities through regional hubs covering North America.

Now with offices in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and New York, UpStart hosts programs in 13 communities across the country and has plans for expansion. Since their inception, UpStart and its three merging organizations have fueled the impact of over 1,300 organizations and trained nearly 3,000 of the Jewish community’s most inspiring leaders. The collaborative of funders cumulatively awarded $3.2 million, a portion of which is allocated as matching grants designed to spur other giving.

Over the three years that I was an UpStarter, UpStart accelerated Edah’s development—providing us with substantive, emotional, and financial support at key junctures in our organizational trajectory. Talented UpStart staff combined just-in-time coaching, content-rich seminars, and connections with a cadre of other creative Jewish Social entrepreneurs to inspire innovation and support sustainability. – Rena Dorph, Founder and Board Chair, Edah, a program of Studio 70

The collaborative of funders includes previous and new donors, such as the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Crown Family, The Diane P. and Guilford Glazer Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Jim Joseph Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, Kaminer Family, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, Lisa and John Pritzker Family Foundation, Marcus Foundation, Natan Fund, SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration, and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.

Our purpose is to enable entrepreneurs to bring bold Jewish ideas to light. We help them reach Up to people in new ways that are meaningful, more inclusive, and create a brighter future for our Jewish community and the world we share.

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