Back to the Future: How the "Old School" May Hold the Key to Innovation's Future

By Ariel Beery, Aharon Horwitz

Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA), Winter 2010

This article is written by the co-directors of the PresenTense Group, dedicated to launching seed-stage social entrepreneurial ventures aimed at providing sustainable solutions to important communal and societal challenges. They respond to John Ruskay's concern that federations are being pushed to the sidelines of the Jewish community's innovation story. They state that UJA-Federation, among other established communal organizations, is an important component in this equation, bearing many resources that seed-stage entrepreneurs value, including a high-value network, data, experience, and capital. It is with this recognition of the power and entrepreneurial potential of federations that the mis-framing of federations as outside the spectrum of communal innovation becomes ever more striking. This article explores how federations can be better appreciated within the conversation on innovation, finding that federations are strongly positioned to take advantage of core issues on the agenda of social entrepreneurs and so engage the best and brightest of our community's change-makers. But there are also challenges that threaten to keep federations on the sidelines of the discussion surrounding innovation, primarily the federation's historical role as a fundraiser and the strategic choice to support experimental innovation in the fields of engagement and identity building. Assessing this set of opportunities and challenges, we call upon federations to publicly share stories of their innovative efforts to upgrade their core competencies in welfare, family service, jobs, health, and poverty, while deemphasizing their role in making investments in explicitly Jewish identity and culture start-ups.

Topic: Innovation, Startups, Jewish Federations, Jewish Identification, Engagement, Jewish Organizations, Partnerships

Name of Publication: Journal of Jewish Communal Service

Editor: Naron Chalew, Gail

Volume/Issue: Vol.85/No.1

Page Number(s): 136-140

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Genre: Article

Coverage: New York, New York , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Beery, Ariel. Horwitz, Aharon. Back to the Future: How the "Old School" May Hold the Key to Innovation's Future. Journal of Jewish Communal Service. Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA). Winter 2010: 136-140.


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