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Students Learn to Become Exceptional Fundraisers

Eight years ago, Cyral Sheldon helped found the Teen Leadership and Philanthropy Institute, then a program of Yachad, the Greater Hartford Jewish Community High School in West Hartford, sponsored by the Jewish Community Foundation. It was conceived as a vehicle in which high school students could become involved, committed citizens of a Jewish community.

In addition to classroom study, students engage in a real-life allocations process, using a $3,000 grant from the foundation to make grants to Jewish causes of their choosing. Participants begin the course by studying Jewish texts to understand what the tradition teaches about communal responsibility. They hear presentations by local philanthropists, who share personal stories about why and where they donate time and money, demonstrating how personal values and priorities shape charitable decisions. The class then takes weekly field trips to Jewish agencies, where they meet with professional staff, learn about each agency’s mission and activities, and are presented with real-world fundable proposals.

This year the students engaged in a different aspect of philanthropy—fundraising.  Students wrote and signed a letter of appeal to interested donors in the community asking them to help support the Teen Philanthropy and Leadership Institute.  They successfully raised almost $2,000 which, with a 50% match, resulted in close to $3,000 raised for the Institute.

To learn more about the program, please visit


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