The Jewish Community Youth Foundation is excited to kick off its thirteenth year this fall, as it celebrates its Bar Mitzvah year.  The program brings together nearly 200 teens in grades 8 through 12 from the greater Mercer County area.   The Jewish Community Youth Foundation is a project of Jewish Family & Children’s Service and funded by the Ricky and Andrew J. Shechtel Philanthropic Fund and the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks.  The program is designed to have teens learn about, experience, and act upon Jewish values.

Each participant contributes $120, which is then matched by the Shechtel Philanthropic Fund and The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks. The contributions are pooled together and each group of participants is responsible for allocating thousands of dollars to worthy causes. The students meet six times between October and March in the Princeton area to discuss Tzedakah, assess the kinds of programs and issues they wish to explore, invite specific agencies to apply for funding, and arrange for site visits to those agencies. At year-end, each group meets to debate and decide how their dollars will be donated.  Since the Jewish Community Youth Foundation’s inception, the teen philanthropists have donated $605,090 to 57 different Jewish recipient agencies locally, nationally and around the world.

This progressive curriculum begins with incoming eighth graders who focus on local Jewish agencies that provide assistance to those in need. Each year progresses to a different focus, as ninth graders explore regional and national agencies, tenth graders investigate Jewish arts and culture, eleventh graders focus on outreach and advocacy, and twelfth graders learn about philanthropy in Israel.

The Jewish Community Youth Foundation is one of 133 similar programs around the country, and ours is a model that is receiving national attention. The goal is to develop a new generation of Jewish Philanthropists; judging by the reactions of the participants and their parents, it is well on its way to success.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth grade registration is now in progress.  For more information, visit our website at: or contact Celeste Albert at 609-987-8100 or  The first Jewish Community Youth Foundation meeting will take place in the fall.  Space is limited.