UpStart’s Story

By Categories: Inspiration

How do I create an expression of Jewish life that meets the needs of today’s Jewish population? How do I build and sustain something meaningful? And, how can I most effectively ensure that Jewish tradition remains relevant for years to come?

These are some of the questions that have driven the bold leaders UpStart has supported for the past two and a half decades.

Here’s how it went down: In the early 2000s, individuals with new ideas and initiatives to shape Jewish life were springing up across the country. But there were few, if any, places to turn for the critical resources necessary to turn ideas into reality– how to start a nonprofit organization, how to fundraise, how to know if you’re actually making an impact, and more. Bikkurim, Joshua Venture, UpStart Bay Area, and PresenTense emerged as partial responses to this need from 2000 to 2008. 

In 2012, the study: From First Fruits to Abundant Harvest: Maximizing the Potential of Jewish Startups commissioned by Bikkurim and carried out by Wellspring Consulting called for deeper collaboration across the field and better integration of financial investment, capacity-building, and network weaving to support Jewish social entrepreneurs. 

In 2017, Bikkurim, Joshua Venture Group, the U.S. programs of PresenTense, and UpStart Bay Area merged into one organization–UpStart. The merger brought together a collective 18 years of experience partnering with the Jewish community’s boldest entrepreneurs to make Jewish life thrive.

Our goal was to provide a stronger launch pad and support system for anyone willing to move the Jewish community into a more just, vibrant, and inclusive future.

Since our inception, UpStart and its three merging organizations have fueled the impact of over 1,450 initiatives and trained more than 3,200 of the Jewish community’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs. View some of the ventures in our Network to get a glimpse of the meaningful work these leaders are bringing to light every day.

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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