JFNA launches second annual Jewish Community Hero Awards
NEW YORK (Press Release)— The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) launched on Thursday the Second Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards, aimed at connecting people through social media to recognize the selflessness and courage of those who are helping their communities through volunteer service.
The Jewish Community Heroes initiative is part of a broad effort by JFNA to promote public service in communities across the United States and Canada. To build on the success of last year’s inaugural program, the largest Jewish social-networking campaign to-date, JFNA is planning a massive online campaign in conjunction with Blue State Digital, the online strategy firm that helped the Obama campaign raise more than $500 million and engage millions of volunteers.
“The Jewish Federation movement is the world’s largest Jewish philanthropic collective, and has raised billions of dollars for life-saving programs and services in North America, Israel, and around the globe,” said Jerry Silverman, JFNA’s President and CEO.
“But for all those resources, we and the overall Jewish community rely on the efforts and creativity of local activists who see needs and step up to fill them. This is especially true during today’s challenging economic climate, where resources are strained and the needs of community members continue to grow. These local Heroes deserve our attention and our support.”
More than 65 organizations are supporting the initiative, which will honor one Jewish Community Hero of the Year and four additional finalists. Each finalist will receive a Heroes grant—$25,000 for the winner—to support their projects, which can range from running charity bake sales or low-income literacy projects to helping neighborhood development programs or mobilizing people around a good cause. Any Canadian or American resident at least 13 years of age is eligible to be nominated through Oct. 8.
The Jewish Federations of North America will recognize the five 2010 honorees and unveil the Jewish Community Hero of the Year at JFNA’s General Assembly (GA), which takes place in New Orleans this year from Nov. 7-9. A panel of judges, heroes in their own right, will select the Jewish Community Hero of the Year from among the 20 nominees who receive the most online support.
This year’s judges include scientist Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway and other innovations); filmmaker Tiffany Schlain (The Tribe); actor Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H, Friends); screenwriter and director Etan Cohen (King of the Hill, Idiocracy, Tropic Thunder); four-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg; and last year’s national honorees, including Ari Teman, 2009’s Jewish Community Hero of the year and founder of JCorps, a program that connects young people to volunteer opportunities around the world.
“Winning the Jewish Community Hero Award gave me the ability to grow JCorps without having to worry that we would not be able to afford bringing in new people,” Teman said. “We started the program with just $300 in the first year and this award gave us a major opportunity to grow and get many more people involved in service projects around the world.”
During the 2009 campaign, Jewish Community Heroes attracted well over a half-million online votes for several hundred worthy nominees. Website traffic for Heroes was just over two million page views.
Heroes’ Web-based platform creates an interactive forum that brings community together around a common purpose: recognizing the invaluable contributions of committed problem-solvers and advocates. Jewish Community Heroes makes use of social media and other online tools to engage people through the nomination and voting process. Not only does the Heroes program highlight the important work of volunteers, it provides an opportunity for people to connect with their community online in a meaningful way.
Jewish Community Heroes is sponsored in part by Tulong llc, makers of Repair The World® apparel (www.repairtheworldnow.com); a portion of the proceeds from Repair the World® clothing supports global, sustainable development through livelihood training, by creating employment opportunities, and by improving underdeveloped community infrastructure.
Preceding provided by Jewish Federations of North America