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iLEAD Community Fellowship

The iLEAD Community Fellowship is an innovative approach to cultivating leadership and community building amongst graduate students and young professionals in their twenties and early thirties. Fifteen participants will be carefully selected to represent diverse networks and affiliations within the Toronto Jewish community; specifically, the program targets young adults in the Israeli, Russian and "unaffiliated" demographics. iLEAD consists of three components. Firstly, participants will attend several leadership development workshops that will enhance their communication, presentation and community organizing skills. Secondly, participants will experience a ten day leadership program in Israel where they will see how young people are re-shaping Israel's business, technological and socio-economic landscape as well how UJA Federation projects are making an impact. Lastly, upon their return, participants will be responsible for engaging their own peer networks through one on one meetings and creating their own impact projects. By engaging their own networks, participants will not only get to put their valuable leadership skills into practice, but will also multiply the numbers of young adults connecting with the Jewish community. Participants will also be exposed to the structure of the organized community and Federation, fostering greater awareness and developing future leadership.

Need: 

iLEAD addresses a number of important needs in the Jewish community.

1. Filling a Leadership Gap
Leadership opportunities exist for high school students. They exist for undergraduate students. They exist for established professionals in the community. There is a gap for graduate students and young professionals looking to make an impact. Young adults are not necessarily drawn to organizational boards: many prefer grassroots, hands-on projects. Many organizations have their own "young" boards or divisions, but their activities are, for the most part, limited to selling tickets for large fundraising parties. iLEAD seeks to bridge the gap between adolescence and adult leadership opporutnities by providing a unique opportunity for young adults to obtain valuable leadership skills and experience, while also making a tangible difference in the lives of others through the peer-to-peer engagement model. By specifically asking them to engage and lead within their own networks, iLEAD offers young leaders the opportunity to contribute to the communities they care about, while still maintaining a connection to the larger, organized Jewish community.

2. Filling a Community Gap
iLEAD will seek to engage segments of the population whose past community involvement levels are not known to be high. Specifically, the program will seek to target Israeli and Russian immigrants as well as "unaffiliated" groups. iLEAD targets influencers: those individuals with access to and credibility with large networks of people. The social network component of the program allows large numbers of people to be reached - each person in the program will have the capacity to influence hundreds of others. In the process, leaders will connect to the larger Jewish community, will increase community awareness amongst their networks and provide accurate data to enable better outreach and connection with their unique communities.

4. Bridging the Resource Gap
Community is built one person at a time. Currently, there are not enough resources to employ enough young adult engagement professionals to be able to cultivate meaningful relationships with the tens of thousands of Jewish young adults in Toronto. That is why leadership development within this demographic is so important. By cultivating leaders who will influence their networks through grassroots programming, we are empowering them to reach the masses that we could never reach on our own.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

iLEAD has three primary goals:

Goal #1: Implement a quality leadership development program that enhances participants' skills, knowledge and commitment to Jewish community involvement.
Measurables: number of participants who complete the program, feedback of participants about workshops and the Israel experience (to be obtained through surveys and interviews conducted before, during and after the program), number of participants who adopt new leadership roles after the program.

Goal #2: Multiply the number of young adults engaged/connected to Jewish community through grassroots programming and peer networking.
Measurables: 50 to 100 personal relationships cultivated and tracked by each participant, a minimum of three programs engaging a minimum of 40 people executed by each participant.

Goal #3: Increase the number of people connected and contributing to UJA Federation.
Measurables: number of participants who make meaningful gifts or increase existing gifts to the annual campaign (all participants will be canvassed after the program); positive messaging regarding their involvement with UJA through social media channels (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

Goal #4: to better understand the unique needs of various sub communities, specifically, best practices for building connections with the community at large.
Measurables: surveys of participants who were impacted by the iLEAD fellows, final report identifying trends and recommendations for future engagement of these community groups.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

SixPoints Fund members can get involved in iLEAD in a variety of ways. We have listed some below, but once we have a better idea of the specific areas of expertise involved, we can be even more specific.

1. Mentoring/Coaching participants - Fund members can be intimately involved in the leadership development process by working closely with participants to grow them as leaders and connect them with resources within the community. In this role fund members would also be role models for the participants, demonstrating to them the value of contributing to community both financially and through their involvement.

2. Candidate selection - we welcome Fund member's input into the recruiting and selection process.

3. Program design - Fund members input would be sought in designing the leadership development curriculum both in Toronto and Israel. Should Fund members have specific skills in relevant areas (program design, marketing, communication, etc.), we would love to have them be presenters in the program. We would also be willing to explore having Fund members participate as facilitators in the Israel trip portion.

4. Focus on philanthropy - having Fund members be involved in helping participants see the big picture of philanthropy and how the community operates is a very important role. Fund members, if they felt comfortable, could be involved in soliciting participants after the program. We believe that the message of "pay it forward" would particularly resonate if it came from the funders of the program.

Time Frame: 

The project has four phases:

1. January - August, 2012 - Planning and Recruitment
This is the most important phase as it lays the foundation for the program ahead. In this phase, the workshops and Israel program would be developed as well as any resource materials for the program. We will spend a significant part of this phase actively recruiting individuals from the target demographics. A selection committee and criteria will be established and participants will be evaluated and finalized.

2. Fall 2012 - Pre-Trip Workshops
Participants will be involved in three to four leadership workshops. They will also be paired with appropriate staff or lay mentors/coaches who will assist them in developing their community engagement plans for when they return from their trip.

3. Winter 2013 - Israel Trip

4. Spring, Summer, Fall 2013 - Community Engagement
Upon returning from their trip, participants will be given $500 (with the opportunity to apply for additional funding) to implement their community engagement ideas. Staff and lay mentors/coaches will continue to work with participants to ensure leadership objectives are met. Participants will continue to speak and/or meet monthly to share challenges and maintain their connection with the group. At this time an extensive formal evaluation will be conducted through which the final impact of the program is analyzed according to the goals and a final on what was learned about engaging the communities involved (as well as recommendations for moving forward) will be presented.

Sponsor/Staff: 

Shauna Waltman, Director of Community Connect, will be the project manager for the grant. Lior Cyngiser, Manager of Leadership Initiatives and David Goodman, Manager of Social Innovation will also be key players in the implementation of the program.

Recognizing the need to leverage community resources and expertise, we also are seeking to partner with several other organizations on this initiative. We have support from the following organizations:

Hillel of Greater Toronto - will be involved in helping select graduating and graduate students who are appropriate for the program. Hillel's network within Russian and Israeli student communities is particularly important to this project.

Impact Toronto (Israeli Division), UJA's Russian Outreach Initiative and UJA's Israeli-Canadian Division - will assist in connecting with and programming for these target audiences.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

UJA’s Community Connect is the pipeline to meaningful and relevant opportunities for Jews in their 20s and 30s. We are organized into four departments according to the four pillars of our work:

1. Networking (3 staff): the networking team’s job is to meet with as many young Jewish adults as they can. With each relationship, they help constituents discover what inspires them and then connect them with existing opportunities or help them create their own outlets with community partners.

2. Volunteer Engagement (1 staff): this division focuses on matching young adults with meaningful volunteer projects in the community. In the event that an opportunity does not exists, the Volunteer Engagement manager works with the individuals to create one that meets their needs.

3. Leadership Development (1 staff) : this division focuses on leadership development programs, most notably, our signature Birthright Israel Madrichim (trip leader) Development Program, which has been recognized by Birthright Israel as the most comprehensive and effective leadership training program in their international community of Birthright Israel trip providers.

4. Social Innovation (1 staff): this department’s expertise lies in cultivating outstanding individuals to run grassroots programming within the community. Through this division, a number of enduring programs have emerged, with hundreds of volunteers involved in organizing and executing them. As a whole, these projects have raised close to $1 million for UJA related causes.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

Innovative: what separates iLEAD from existing models of leadership development programs is the element of built-in, localized follow-up through a mentorship program. Most leadership conferences or trips are designed to bring people together for a short period of time, but they do not provide support after the initial experience. The mentors/coaches in iLEAD will provide participants with the guidance and resources they need to create community within their own networks, while also connecting them to the Jewish community at large.

Unlike many institutions that construct leadership programs for their own members, iLEAD encourages participants to create their own communities within their own networks and through their own initiatives which can then be supported or enhanced by existing organizations. This is ideal for young adults who are generally unaware of community institutions or who see them as exclusive.

Scalability and sustainability: with the appropriate funding, this program is very easy to scale to include larger numbers of participants. There is also an opportunity to bring other niche groups into the program, along with them additional funding dollars from organizations wishing to target those audiences. Additional funding can also be acquired through a pay it forward program where participants are given the opportunity to donate a portion of or the full amount of their participation back into the program for future participants.

Replicability: one of the great things about iLEAD is that its model - entirely or in pieces - can be adapted by other groups, both within the realm of young adult engagements (like summer camps, Hillels, etc.) and in other age groups (Federation leadership). It is a great model for attracting and engaging participants outside the core constituency, something that all Jewish organizations are striving to achieve. Even if other communities or organizations cannot afford to replicate the trip and workshop component of the program, they will be able to learn from the individual participants' engagement programs that are created in the follow up portion of the program and empower individuals in their own communities to implement them for their own circles. This has the potential to multiply the impact of the program exponentially.

Leverage: possibly the largest cost of the program is funding the staff who will execute it. The sponsoring and partner organizations are effectively absorbing those overhead costs by dedicating several of their staff towards managing this elaborate leadership program, so that the grant only focuses on the program costs itself and not on any overhead or staffing costs.