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The PANIM Institute of BBYO Named One of North America’s Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits

October 19, 2010

Sixth Annual “Slingshot” Guidebook Names 50 Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits in America

The PANIM Institute of BBYO has been named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot ’10-‘11, a resource guide for Jewish innovation. Since 2005, Slingshot has become the definitive guide to identifying path-finding and trailblazing organizations grappling with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, and tradition. PANIM was chosen by a panel of 36 foundation professionals from across North America. This was PANIM’s second time being featured in Slingshot.

In order to be listed in Slingshot, organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees across North America. Finalists are chosen based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership, and organizational efficiency.

Now more than ever teens are seeking out experiences to serve and improve their communities in sophisticated ways. In September 2009, the leadership of BBYO and PANIM announced that PANIM would join BBYO’s umbrella of programs designed to inspire and train a new generation of Jewish leaders. Launched in the midst of a challenging economic climate, the purpose of this partnership was to develop and disseminate PANIM’s proven civics curriculum and programs to a broader audience of teens and educators in a more cost effective way.

As part of BBYO, it is PANIM’s ultimate goal to build a youth movement rooted in hands-on service and Jewish values. It is the hope that these individuals will comprise a community empowered to act on the belief that social responsibility is not only linked to our Jewish heritage, but inherent to living a Jewish life. The PANIM Institute provides an avenue for this through a myriad of experiences. In the past year PANIM’s premiere programs of Panim el Panim and Summer of Impact both experienced growth of 12% and 48% respectively.

“Our vision of the PANIM Institute is to inspire thousands of teens to get involved in the world around them and to see their involvement as an expression of Jewish values,’ said Rabbi David Kessel, BBYO’s Chief Program Officer. ‘Teens are excited to serve and to make a difference. We have a wonderful opportunity to connect with teens and make them feel proud of being Jewish.”

According to Will Schneider, the Director of Slingshot, “2010 was the most competitive year that Slingshot has experienced. Not only are there a greater number of applicants each year, but the extent and complexity of each applicant’s impact has increased. The feedback from the evaluators told us that the guide could easily have been filled with twice as many inspirational projects, so these 50 had to really shine to rise to the top.”

Inspired four years ago by Slingshot, a group of next-generation philanthropists launched the Slingshot Fund, a collective giving mechanism to support innovative Jewish life. In just four cycles, the Slingshot Fund has contributed nearly $1.5 million to innovative Jewish not-for-profits.

Jonathan Raiffe, the Chairman of the Slingshot Fund Committee which set the policies for the Slingshot Fund shares, “The organizations in Slingshot have really challenged my views about what it means to be involved in Jewish non-profits and provide me with a strong sense of pride in my Jewish identity. Participating in the Slingshot Fund offers me invaluable experience that has given me the skills and confidence to play an active role in my local community. I hope that Slingshot provides the organizations additional publicity to the outside world, and serves to facilitate enhanced cooperation and create mutually beneficial projects among the groups.”

Slingshot ’10/’11 was unveiled on October 18 at the annual Slingshot Day launch, a sold out event in Manhattan. Over 250 not-for-profit leaders, foundation professionals, and funders of all ages spent the day engaged in candid conversations about philanthropy and innovation.

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