New cohort addresses poverty, substance abuse and education.
(Courtesy of OU) OU’s Impact Accelerator, a mentorship program for growth and early-stage funding for Jewish non-profit entrepreneurs and a division of The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, has announced its second cohort of four startup ventures. The organizations chosen for this year’s cohort are using innovative models to address issues that impact the Jewish community including: fighting poverty, substance abuse recovery and education.
Launched in early 2018, the OU Impact Accelerator was created to provide mentorship and early-stage funding for Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs with the next groundbreaking ideas, over the course of a 10-month program.
The second cohort of the OU’s Impact Accelerator, chosen from a pool of more than 80 applicants, will include the following four ventures:
1. ANI TEFILLAH/The Voice of Jewish Education: Founded in 2018 by Tamar Nusbaum of Far Rockaway, New York, ANI TEFILLAH is a prayer-enhancement curriculum that imbues the process of praying with deeper meaning and connection for school-age children, with the goal of helping them look forward to praying daily. The program is designed for students of all backgrounds and utilizes classroom strategies in conjunction with gentle spiritual guidance to encourage each child to “Stop, Think and Feel” the words of prayer they are saying.
2. Communities Confronting Substance Abuse, Inc: Founded in 2018 by Lianne and Etiel Forman of Teaneck, CCSA was created to bring awareness, education, prevention and programming regarding substance abuse and addiction to local Jewish communities. To date, CCSA has launched a professionally facilitated support group for family members and loved ones of sufferers, hosted community education and awareness events and worked with yeshiva day schools and high schools to provide faculty training, parent and student programming.
3. Chinuch Yehudi: Founded in 2017 by Rabbi Chaim Bernstein of Waterbury, Connecticut, Chinuch Yehudi is designed to educate the nearly 1 million Israelis living in the U.S. about the critical need of providing their children with a Jewish education and assisting them, financially and otherwise, in transferring their children to Orthodox Jewish day schools.
4. Daily Giving: Founded in 2019 by Jonathan Donath of White Plains. DailyGiving.org is an online platform that guarantees its users the fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedakah with as little as one dollar a day while vetting Jewish charities worldwide for meaningful donations. The platform harnesses the power of crowdfunding to feed the poor, help those with special needs and much more.
Led by Jenna Beltser and the Accelerator Executive Board, chaired by Ezra Friedberg, the OU’s Impact Accelerator 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, fundraising and implementation strategies over the next 10 months to accelerate their ventures.
“The organizations we chose for the second cohort are dedicated to creating solutions and opportunities for our community,” said Beltser. “We are excited to provide them with resources and the guidance to help them expand the impact they make within the community.”
“Our community enjoys many opportunities and faces many challenges,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “It is inspiring and invigorating to be engaged with the growing number of community members harnessing their creativity and passion to help move the community forward.”
“Our community is blessed with many wonderful nonprofits and people with the vision to develop innovative solutions to issues impacting our community,” said Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin. “Our goal with the Impact Accelerator program is to harness their passion and to provide the tools and mentorship they need in order to help their ideas flourish.
The application process for this cohort included completing a rigorous online form, followed by interviews with the OU Impact Accelerator team and pitching the ventures to a selection committee. Criteria for projects chosen focused on solving the critical challenges of the Jewish community through innovative solutions, with five main elements: communal need, innovation, maturity, leadership and potential for impact. Candidates also needed to be nonprofit entrepreneurs who live in and cater to the North American Jewish Community.