Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation

There are not too many nonprofits that let teens decide how to spend their money. But in a sense, that’s what the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation is about: letting young people learn responsible philanthropy.

Sponsored by a parent organization of the same name (sans the “youth” piece”) OJCYF was founded to teach the next generation of Oregon Jewish leaders how to engage in their community. The program was funded in 2002, and it recruits Jewish teenagers in the Portland/SW Washington area to get involved with fundraising and distributing money to various nonprofits/Jewish organizations. The idea is to impart on these youths a sense of communal responsibility, and an understanding of how to fairly distribute funds.

It’s a unique setup, because the key element of this program is that adults don’t make the final call when it comes to awarding funds – the teens do. It empowers these youths, teaches them to strive to be excellent decision-makers, and proves that the community trusts them despite their young age.


Some of the requirements of this program, according to the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation site:

  • High School-aged Jewish youth who have a knowledge of and appreciation for tzedakah demonstrated by active involvement in synagogue, youth group, or community-wide social action projects.
  • Must attend monthly meetings during the school year plus a benefit dinner event in April, two organizational site visits and community events as a representative of OJCYF.
  • Personally contribute a charitable gift minimum of $100 (can be raised from friends, family and other sources) that will be allocated directly to community organizations.
  • Participation required in site visits, group discussions, decision-making, fundraising and obtaining sponsorships.

This week on Portland Radio Project we featured the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. You can listen below to interviews with key members of the organization:

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