Three Chicago-based Jewish organizations -- Libenu Foundation, Makom, and Pushing the Envelope Farm -- have been selected to cohort nine of the UpStart Accelerator, a Jewish community engine that helps innovative, early-stage organizations succeed. Selected from the Accelerator's largest applicant pool ever (66 from across the world), these organizations will join a cohort of eight other organizations that are opening up new access points to Jewish life.
Since 2006, the UpStart Accelerator has served as a launch pad for over thirty Jewish organizations, providing them with the training, network, and funding needed to transform vision and passion into game-changing Jewish social ventures. Current Chicago organizations and national alumni include BimBam (formerly G-dcast), Moishe House, Mishkan Chicago, SVARA and A Wider Bridge.
"The Jewish community is increasingly diverse and hungry for unique and personal ways to connect to Jewish life," says Aaron Katler, CEO of UpStart. This Accelerator cohort is tapping into exactly this desire, by creating new points of connection to Jewish wisdom, community, and identity. We look forward to partnering with these bold innovators to take their work to the next level."
Below is the full list of this year's cohort, which will join the 35 organizations and alumni already in the UpStart Accelerator network:
- 30 Years After (Los Angeles) - Promotes the participation of Iranian-American Jews in political, civic and Jewish life.
- At The Well (Bay Area) - Supports young professional Jewish women to live spiritually connected to their bodies and to feel empowered to be fully themselves.
- JCC MaccabiSports Camp (Bay Area) - Hosts an overnight Jewish sports camp that combines sports and camp activities with core Jewish
- Libenu Foundation (Chicago) - Provides adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live independent, meaningful lives as respected members of the Jewish community.
- Makom (Chicago) - Helps Millennials fill the emotional, spiritual, and social space that they wish to find from their Judaism but haven't been able to find just yet.
- Mishpucha (New York) - Offers culturally authentic, immersive experiences for Russian-speaking American Jews that foster community building, identity exploration, and Jewish education.
- Pushing the Envelope Farm (Chicago) - Provides opportunities for hands-on, farm-based exploration of Jewish agricultural traditions, ecological design, and social justice.
- Yachad: The Jewish Educational Platform for Teens in Minneapolis (Minneapolis) - Engages, inspires, and educates teens to become future leaders who possess confidence, enthusiasm and curiosity about Jewish life.
- ZABS Place (North Carolina) - Provides training and work experiences to young adults with special needs to help reveal their unique potential, talents, and skills.
"The UpStart Accelerator was a formative experience during the early stages of BimBam," said Sarah Lefton, founder and director of BimBam, an alum of the Accelerator. "We're proud to welcome such an exciting cohort of organizations into the UpStart network, and we can't wait to witness their growth over the coming years."
More information can be found at