The Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly recently hosted an end-of-year banquet to celebrate the achievements of the teens who are part of the leadership, philanthropy, and social action programs at the JCC. Those programs include the Teen Philanthropy Institute, the Middle School Teen Leadership Council, the High School Teen Leadership Council, and the Commit Fellowship. A banquet highlight came when TPI participants presented their $5,000 in allocations to three charities they researched and chose to support.
TPI, a two-year program for Jewish eighth- through tenth-graders, gives participants in-depth exposure to the world of philanthropy and fundraising. Commit, a year-long JCC fellowship offered in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, provides teens with the opportunity to design and execute their own projects to fight such social injustices as poverty, homelessness, gender-based violence, mental health, and more. The annual JCC Teen Leadership Conferences, held separately for middle and high school students in partnership with the Bergen Family Center, allow students from schools throughout Bergen County to tackle a multitude of difficult topics and concerns facing teens today.
The banquet also featured a keynote address by Valerie Weisler, CEO of the Validation Project, a global organization that she founded when she was a teenager. The Validation Project so far has mentored 6,000 teens in 100 countries, working with its “kindness curriculum” to help them overcome bullying and other struggles.
For information on programs for teens at the JCC, go to www.jccotp.org.