JDC Entwine Learning Networks
JDC Entwine Learning Networks are locally-based micro-communities of young adults who plan and implement regular educational programming for their peers on global Jewish and humanitarian issues. The Networks provide two critical elements: 1) a ‘deepening’ experience for Entwine service alumni to follow through and demonstrate leadership, and 2) an entry point for new people, unfamiliar to global Jewish issues and needs. Networks follows specific requirements: events are peer-led and developed through a volunteer planning group, informal participation without a ‘committee’ requirement, and education-based events to attract like-minded peers and provide unique, quality content. Each program reflects the design desired by the participants – from large scale programs, to intimate small group Shabbat dinners, to local days of service, and to everything in between.
What is the mission and purpose of this program?
Entwine’s Learning Networks expose, confront, and enrich participants in peer-led educational formats about global Jewish issues.
The Entwine Learning Networks are open to all young people who wish to participate and targets Jewish young professionals in their 20s and 30s. On average, 50% of participants at large-scale programs are new to JDC and 50% are program alumni. The Learning Networks are led by planning groups of young Jews who conceptualize and spearhead the educational programming. For young adults looking to connect to their Jewish identity through Jewish values, history and culture, we offer opportunities for active learning, engagement and socializing, providing an alternative to organizations who focus on religion or politics.
Learning Network educational programming ranges from large-scale events to intimate gatherings. This content is delivered by peer experts, many of whom are alumni of Entwine service programs. Programs take place in non-traditional Jewish spaces, like bars and restaurants, creating a low-barrier entry point for young adults who may not be comfortable in a synagogue or Jewish Community Center. Educational events typically follow the below models:
Large-scale forums offer an accessible entry point for young people to learn about global Jewish issues, while also providing an avenue for program alumni to continue their education and exercise leadership in educating their peers. On average, each large-scale program has over 100 participants.
Intimate gatherings offer groups of 15-20 young people the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and connections with one another. These more intimate gatherings are generally not listed publicly but are made available to those who have attended multiple larger events or are alumni of other Entwine programs. This provides an avenue for deeper education for those more deeply involved.
Our world is flatter, faster, and more integrated than ever. So too with Jewish life, developing in over 90 countries today, with new communities emerging in places like Asia. And while Jews have always been a “global people,” we’re lacking a global outlook. In a study we conducted, 900 young adults said they were committed to helping Jews and non-Jews in need. However, they knew little about global Jewish life and issues. This proved that young people didn’t “not care”, they just didn’t know.
JDC Entwine seeks to change this outlook through local and global programs equipping young Jews to lead in a globalized, Jewish world they know more about. We’re building a vast global Jewish network with unparalleled access, rooted in a Jewish worldview that underpins our connection to the larger world. We’re providing greater knowledge of Jewish life globally and fostering more accessibility between people and communities.
Our Learning Network model was based on the premise that alumni and others who are passionate about global Jewish and humanitarian work are best positioned to educate their peers. Networks are a way to provide immediate follow through with service alumni, strengthening our alumni network, while also offering an entry point for others.
Entwine has grown from one event in 2008 to nine Networks and over 70 events in 2015. To date, we have attracted over 15,000 young adults through our events.
How do you measure the success of your program?
Entwine implements evaluations after each trip or local event. Evaluations measure the event’s success, as well as how much the event inspired attendees to take an active role in the Jewish world, both at home and globally.
The data provides remarkable feedback: 95% of participants indicated that the events had a ‘meaningful’ or ‘very meaningful’ impact on their connection to the global Jewish community and sense of responsibility to the Jewish world. We’ve also found that 99% of Entwine trip participants feel more inspired to be involved in their local Jewish community upon their return, which is why providing a natural ‘next step’ through the Learning Networks is critical.
We can clearly see that global Jewish service and education is a compelling avenue for Jewish engagement and meaning for this demographic, particularly with 34% of participants indicating no Jewish involvement in their local community, and an even larger percentage indicating limited involvement.