Email Sign-Up

I am a: teen friend/alum parent other

IMPACT: Chicago at University of Chicago Blog

Training future leaders on activism, creating social change and building community through exciting cultural activities.

We’re so excited to be able to share all of the wonderful news, tidbits and fun that go on here every summer with even more people. Check back frequently to see the most recent updates!

So Long, Farewell!

Posted on 07/16/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Today was the day none of us were looking forward to at the beginning of IMPACT, the final full day of programming. Although it was the last full day, it was definitely a memorable one. We started the day with a learning session where we discussed homelessness, the stories that we had from our sites, and how we will bring it all home to our communities.

After the session, we moved into the presentation luncheon where each of the three groups presented what they did in their 5 days at their service sites. My site director, Michelle Mason, was able to join us for the luncheon. We presented a movie that we created for Montgomery Place. Michelle will actually be showing the movie at a presentation to her board tomorrow!

Following the presentations, we had a delicious falafel lunch, and everyone had more than enough food.

After we finished lunch, we made some awesome pez-uzahs that we will take home so we can remember IMPACT. If you are sitting there like what is this pez-uzah thing he is talking about, it is a mezuzah made out of a pez dispenser and inside we placed the six words that will help us remember IMPACT.

When we got back to our dorms, we had the pleasure of packing all of our loads of clothing. We then had free time where a large amount of people went and made some yummy challah with our Madrich, Jackson Block.

After our final dinner in the beloved cafeteria, we moved into a meaningful closing program where we were able to reflect, and talk about the friendships we made. Overall, this experience at IMPACT has been unique, and extremely meaningful. To be able to go into the community and meet the members of the community was inspiring and a great experience. Thank you IMPACT: Chicago!

Fraternally submitted with an undying love for, Athens of the South AZA #258, Cotton States Region #72, Impact:Chicago 2014, Rusty Smith, and the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the 7 Cardinal Principles upon which it stands,

I will forever remain Aleph Samuel Albert Perlen Cotton States Region Nashville, TN

Weather for Thursday July 17th, 2014, courtesy of High of 75 with a low of 61. 10% chance of precipitation


More Lessons in Social Justice

Posted on 07/15/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Hey from IMPACT Chicago!

Sadly, today was our last day at our service sites. At my service site, KAM Gardens, we helped clean out the different plots of the garden that had not been tended to or had overgrown. We were able to see a direct impact when a neighborhood family joined us at their coinciding plot and we helped them clean out their area. I have learned a lot from this experience; from composting to food sustainability, and the organic side of growing in an urban environment.

After all of the shoveling and digging and raking, we headed back to campus for chofesh (break). Following, we went to the University of Chicago Hillel and participated in an eye opening activity and discussion about unequal socioeconomic status and income. We first split into our service groups and tried to build towers out of varying amounts of resources. We were unaware that each group had different supplies and quality of supplies. When wee came back together as a group, we talked about how limited resources can restrict different communities and created differences.

After our last experience group, we went to work on our group presentations. My group is doing a video showing our progress in the 2 different gardens we worked in over the 5 days at KAM. I'm so excited to show our presentation to the entire IMPACT: Chicago community tomorrow and to show the KAM director, Tal Rosen, what we did!

Jamie Kotler Northern Region East: DC Council Howard County, MD

Weather for Wednesday July 16th, 2014, courtesy of High of 62 with a low of 51. 0% chance of rain.


Topsy Turvy Type of Day!

Posted on 07/14/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Welcome to another edition of the IMPACT: Chicago 2014 blog! Today we went back to our service sites. At Montgomery Place we did a meet and greet, while hanging out with residents. We played a familiar BBYO ice breaker by passing a beach ball around that had questions on it. The residents of Montgomery Place were very active and enjoyed this game. We learned a lot about their backgrounds from asking these questions. We ended the morning by reading the residents the news and discussing major current events like Lebron leaving Miami for Cleveland, and Germany winning the Word Cup.

After we got back, we had lunch and chofesh (break). Following, we all gathered and went to see the Hazon Topsy Turvy Bus at the University of Chicago Hillel. The Topsy Turvy bus travels from Colorado to Connecticut for 6 weeks, and teaches people about environmental sustainability. We were joined for the program by teens from the Great Midwest Region of BBYO. We ran four rotations with the educators from Topsy Turvy. The first was a tour of the bus and an overview of how they live and how the bus functions. The second was making a smoothie from riding a bicycle! The blender sat on the back of the bike and the blades were powered by us pedaling. The third rotation was baking cookies in a solar oven. We learned about four different types of portable solar ovens. The last rotation was learning about how they acquire the vegetable oil to power the bus and how they convert it to be usable for their needs.

The last activity of the night was working on our group presentations. We are presenting on Wednesday to explain what each group’s service site does and thank the program coordinators for working with us.

Tomorrow is our last day at our service sites and we are all very sad that it will come to an end. More to come from IMPACT: Chicago!

Alex Hoffman Pacific Western Region Los Angeles, CA

Weather for Tuesday July 15th, 2014, courtesy of High of 70 with a low of 53. 30% chance of rain.


Planes, Trains, and Submarines!

Posted on 07/13/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Today was an exciting day at IMPACT: Chicago! After waking up, we headed to the Museum of Science and Industry. We were able to see awesome exhibits and artifacts. I was able to touch a real piece of the moon, while my friends were designing and creating their own toys. There was a large variety of activities and I learned so much. The Disney exhibit was especially interesting because it was a behind the scenes view of all my favorite movies.

Later in the evening, we finalized our grant allocation project by choosing the charities to donate to. The money each participant brought to donate has been graciously matched by the Jewish Federation of Chicago. We spent time learning about four different charities. We talked a lot about the pros and cons of each charity, and eventually decided to split the money between three. Those three include: the Uptown Café, a non-profit that gives meals to the hungry and homeless, the Response Center, a non-profit that provides counseling for teens with mental illness, and Namaste, a non-profit that provides children who are falling behind in literacy with tutoring sessions. Having the opportunity to learn about the different non-profits and evaluate them each carefully was really incredible. The experience was incredible, as every other experience I have had at IMPACT has been.

Sari Bircoll Southern Region: Atlanta Council Atlanta, GA

Weather report for Monday July 14th, courtesy of 50% chance of PM rain, high of 76 and low of 52


Shavua Tov!

Posted on 07/12/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Today was a very meaningful day at IMPACT: Chicago. Everyone had a special Shabbat challenge posted on their door in the morning in order to add a unique experience to our one Shabbat together. For example my challenge was to where a kippah all day, and reflect on what it means.

After breakfast we had a beautiful youth planned and led Shabbat morning service, followed by fun color war activities such as Jell-O jousting and tug of war. We had an extended chofesh (break) in which I relaxed with my friends. After which we reconvened at Hillel for a debate on Latkes v. Hamentashin that replicated the University of Chicago’s same famous debate.

We then walked back to a very meaningful Havdallah. The part of the day that made the most impact on me was bonding with me my fellow Alephs during separates. I'm sure the BBGs had a very meaningful experience as well. At the end of the evening we all were officially inducted as IMPACT ambassadors.

Jacob Levy, Cotton States Region

Weather for Monday July 13th, courtesy of 40% chance of thunderstorms, high of 86 with a low of 62.


We Are Shaking Things Up A Bit!

Posted on 07/11/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Today at IMPACT: Chicago we went through a philanthropy boot camp through JUF to learn everything there is to know about foundations, grant guidelines, and what’s behind allocating money. We started off at Millennium Park with a scavenger hunt where we had to match places in the park with the people and foundations that donated the money to create them. We learned that about $485 million went into the park and that a third of that money came from Jewish philanthropists.

After we left, we headed back to the JUF building to learn everything there is to know about the philanthropic process. We started off with a game of philanthropy based The Price is Right. Next, we discussed what it means to be a philanthropist and learned about the lingo that goes along with it. We also learned about the difference between a foundation and a non-profit, as well as the connection between empathy and and sympathy, philanthropy and tzedakah. For the final part of the philanthropy boot camp, we analyzed Jewish texts and then broke into groups based on which text resonated with each of us best. From that we created our own foundations with grant guidelines and then chose where we wanted to allocate our money. Overall, the boot camp was an amazing learning experience for all of us to be a part of and taught us many new things that we will bring home with us.

After a long and incredibly informative day with JUF, we went to Navy Pier to unwind and have some fun whether it was riding the Ferris wheel or shopping in the mall. There was something there for everyone to do and all of the participants had a blast. It was such an amazing end to a great day.

Jordyn Matez Gold Coast Region Boca Raton, FL

Weather for Friday July 11th, courtesy of Jacob Goodman from Partly cloudy, high around 79 degrees and low around 67 degrees. Potential stray Evening shower

Saturday July 12th High around 83 degrees with a low of 68 degrees. 60-70% chance of Thunderstorms. Expect rain and clouds all day


The More We Do, The More We Learn!

Posted on 07/10/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Today was another amazing day at IMPACT: Chicago. After a great breakfast, I went to my service site, UCAN Chicago, for the third time so far in the program. UCAN is an organization that provides resources for underprivileged and abused youth. My service site specifically travels to a youth treatment center to help out with maintenance and interact with the kids at the facility. Today we finished up organizing a library that had previously gone unused because of how disorganized it was. Now the library can actually be used as a resource for the young people at the center. Later next week, we’re going to do a Question and Answer session with the kids, and an immersion simulation to see what a day at the house feels like.

We also had a guest speaker, Lori Zisook, come and speak about Keshet Day School, which is specifically for people with disabilities. She taught us a lot about how to interact properly with people with a wide range of disabilities, and helped us learn how to be more accepting and understanding. She even left us with a sheet that listed out the proper terminology to reference when speaking about people with disabilities.

Jackson Block, Madrich for the IMPACT: Chicago program, then led us in an activity about the positive and negative ways social media can be used. We discussed the possible consequences that posting negative or derogatory things on social media can have on numerous aspects of your life. Next, we went to dinner, and after working in various committees for Shabbat activities, we moved back into our service site groups. There, we began planning our presentations on our specific service site, which will be shown at a grand ceremony at the end of IMPACT in front of all the participants and people that work at each of the service sites. After a long, fun day of community service and learning, we went out into the campus at the University of Chicago and watched a screening of “Frozen” on a huge screen, the perfect ending to an already great day. I can’t wait to see what we do next!

-Noah Shapiro: Northern Region East: DC Council

Weather report for Thursday July 10th: Mostly sunny. Stray rain shower may occur. Chance of precip 20%. High of 75. Courtesy of


We Are Making Moves!

Posted on 07/09/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Today was our second day at our service sites, which for me means KAM Gardens. As a part of their food sustainability program, KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation helps to maintain gardens not only on the synagogue’s grounds, but also at a couple of churches in the area. As a part of the program, KAM teaches children and families how to compost and maintain their own gardens.

We started out by learning what it takes to write a grant to obtain money that will then be used to maintain these gardens and host programs like ours. After that, we got more hands on and pulled weeds in the plant beds that we will later use to plant our crops. We then made markers, stones painted with different crops, to mark the places of the seeds we will put in the plant bed and keep track of what crops we’re growing.

My favorite part of today was pulling the weeds because it was the first true hands on experience we've had at our site. It made me feel really good to be giving back and to know that my work will have an impact on others. I can’t wait to go back to KAM tomorrow and continue making my mark on the city of Chicago.

After we got back from our service sites, we had a campus-wide scavenger hunt, lead by Daniel Follmer, Admissions Director for The University of Chicago. We split up into groups and competed to see who could find the most places from the hints that we were given. The winning team (my team) found 8 of the places on our list and got UChicago swag.

After dinner we broke into our experience groups and learned El Sistema with a guest speaker, Albert Oppenheimer, and about mission statements. We all contributed ideas for possible mission statements for our service sites and compared our ideas to the actual mission statement for KAM.

Zoë Finkelstein Mountain Region Las Vegas, Nevada

Weather for Wednesday July 9th: 30% chance of AM rain, otherwise sunny. High near 77 Courtesy of


Service Sites Have Begun!

Posted on 07/08/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Today at IMPACT: Chicago, we woke up early to go to our service sites. Everybody was very nervous, but it was exciting to experience our volunteer work for the first time this trip. I went to Montgomery Place to assist the elderly in their everyday lives. We helped pass out newspapers, played games, drew, and talked to many interesting residents. One of the highlights of the day was playing Family Feud with the residents. At first, only a few of us played in a small room. However, as time progressed more and more people came and the room filled with smiles and happiness.

Other teens here went to UCAN and KAM, two organizations that will be spoken about more in depth in the following blogs.

After that we had free time where we were able to explore the University of Chicago campus. Then we went to Hillel to discuss our volunteer work. We also did a program on first impressions and racial profiling, using the Humans of New York blog. We set up another activity where we all drew outlines of our hands, and throughout the week, other participants will write compliments inside them. After eating dinner (which was absolutely scrumptious), we listened to a speaker about the LGBTQ community. It was very informative and we all learned a lot. Finally, the campus police came and discussed safety rules in an entertaining PowerPoint presentation.

It was a long day, but I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Alex Hoffman, Pacific Western Region

One IMPACT: Chicago participant, Jacob Goodman, keeps a daily weather blog. The weather for tomorrow from is going to be a high of 82 degrees and a low of 61 degrees. There is a 50% chance of pm thunderstorms.


Impact: Chicago is HERE! We have all arrived safe and sound.

Posted on 07/07/2014 @ 05:00 PM


We are Eliana DuBosar and Linus Gordon and we are your teen coordinators for IMPACT: Chicago 2014! We are very excited to start off our IMPACT blog, which will be updated every day with stories from our participants about their service sites as well as the trips we go on.

Today, all the participants arrived and we went straight into icebreakers to get to know everybody. We started with a fun game of Rock-Paper-Scissors Champion of the World, in which one participant walked away victorious with a cheering crowd. We also divided into our service site groups and got the 4-1-1 on each site. We discussed the differences and similarities between the two types of giving within Judaism, and how philanthropy overlaps within Judaism.

We ended the night with an interactive program that introduced the participants to a few of the places we will be visiting while in Chicago such as Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, Michigan Avenue, and the University of Chicago Campus itself. The participants learned about Chicago’s population density, life on a college campus, and Chicago music among other things.

All of our participants arrived excited and ready to go for the next twelve days ,and some even told us what they were most excited for.

Alex Hoffman Pacific Western Region "I'm really excited to make new friends and learn skills that I can use to help the world"

Samantha Sinder Kentucky Indiana Ohio Region "I'm really excited to start working at my service site. I also really love the city of Chicago so I can't wait to get out and see more of it."

Jamie Kotler Northern Region East: DC Council "I'm really excited to learn about giving back and philanthropy while having fun."

That's all for today here at IMPACT: Chicago. The two of us are so ready and excited for the days to come. For the remainder of the program, this blog will be updated daily by participants sharing their experiences here in Chicago.

Eliana DuBosar, Gold Coast Region Linus Gordon, Pacific Wester Region


BBYO International Office
800 Eighth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
P: 202.857.6633 / F: 202.857.6568

Privacy Policy / Contact Us / Connect with Customer Service
Powered by ARCOS / Design:
Copyright 2015 BBYO, Inc.