How JFed is molding the next generation of Jewish philanthropists

How JFed is molding the next generation of Jewish philanthropists

The St. Louis Jewish community has been blessed with a host of benefactors, who through the years demonstrated the art of tzedakah in multiple ways. Names such as I.E. Millstone, Thomas R. Green, Morris H. Sterneck and Michael Staenberg appear on buildings, scholarships, endowments and much more, all because of the millions of dollars they donated and raised for Jewish nonprofits and worthy causes.

So, what and who is the future of Jewish philanthropy in St. Louis? The answer may be found within a new effort from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

Named for the Hebrew word for “future,” Atid is a new six-month program developed by the Jewish Federations of North America to empower young Jewish adults in their 30s and 40s who are interested in crafting their own charitable vision rooted in Jewish values.

The St. Louis cohort is made up of 18 invitation-only participants. The program guides them in exploring their motivations for giving and helps them develop personalized strategies to maximize their philanthropic impact.
“Nobody is having these conversations with them,” said Amy Bornstein, senior director of transformational giving at the Federation, which hosts the local Atid initiative. “We typically find financial advisors and estate planners start philanthropy discussions with clients later in life, if at all, but we see real value in talking about philanthropy from an earlier age.”

Atid offers a rare introspective journey to a group poised to inherit or generate significant wealth. The sessions weave elements of Jewish wisdom and philosophy on tzedakah, leading each participant to create a personal plan.

“We wanted to bring together a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and philosophies,” Bornstein explained. “Some are from families deeply engaged in major philanthropy, while others are first-generation wealth creators themselves.”

What unites the cohort is a shared capacity for shaping the community’s future through their giving choices. Bornstein described glimpsing “impostor syndrome” as members grappled with the profound implications of being entrusted with such influence at a relatively young age.

“They look around the room and sort of are saying to themselves, ‘It’s us. We’re the ones that are going to be the future of St. Louis’ Jewish community,’” said Bornstein.

Atid aims to help these young, philanthropic leaders of the future grow by engaging them in activities that focus on their values and connecting them with experienced funders who act as mentors.

“We’re helping them understand how their own unique situations can make an impact, wherever and at whatever level that ends up being,” said Bornstein. “We also hope to inspire them to start speaking about philanthropy to their peers to really maximize the capacity of our own Jewish community.”

Upon completing the program, cohort members will become part of an exclusive nationwide alumni network offering ongoing learning opportunities, travel experiences and advisory services as they embark on their personal philanthropic journeys.

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