Be the CHANGE (Choose High-Powered Action, Get Energized), powered by NFTY Michigan, gives Jewish teens in southeast Michigan a chance to grow in their understanding of social justice-related issues they are passionate about and the means to fight for those issues with the widest and deepest possible reach.

Be the CHANGE interns will spend the first half of the year engaging in deep learning with local experts and mentors on a social justice topic of their choice. In the second half of the year, interns will create and implement social justice programs for Jewish teens from through southeast Michigan and beyond.

This program will begin with our intern retreat, October 26-27. Each month during the first semester, interns will engage in one service or learning project, meet once as a full cohort, and meet once with their mentor. During the second semester, groups of interns will meet regularly to create and implement social justice programs for other Jewish teens in metro Detroit and to plan the inaugural Lansing Advocacy Day, under the mentorship of Aaron Klaus, NFTY-MI Regional Youth Specialist.

Be the CHANGE is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation’s Stephen H. Schulman Millennium Fund for Jewish Youth.

An ideal Be the CHANGE intern is passionate about social justice and tikkun olam, and sharing those values with peers. Interns are expected to exhibit excellent communication skills, to understand their responsibility to their peers and to the world, and to be eager to learn and grow. Interns will walk away with:

  • Community organizing and social justice skills
  • A cohort of peers who care about social justice
  • A mentor who will guide you through your social justice work
  • A connection to local social justice organizations and contacts for future work

During the program, interns will:

  • Learn in a two-day immersive training retreat
  • Gain 10-15 hours of expert mentoring from professionals in the field
  • Earn 30 hours of community service
  • Plan and participate in in a one-day advocacy day at the Michigan state capitol to lobby on legislation that affects our home state
  • Receive funding and mentoring to create and implement a community-wide social justice event for their peers
  • Plan and implement Lansing Advocacy Day, based on the Religious Action Center’s L’taken, where we bring a group of Jewish teens to lobby our elected officials in the Michigan state congress

In the first half of the year (September-January) interns will participate in an opening retreat led by leadership from Repair the World, focused on a Jewish understanding of social change and the importance of transformational change in our world. In addition, interns will engage in in three learning touch-points each month, including:

  • One learning opportunity, including activities such as site visits to local organizations, volunteering, or interviewing professionals working in the field
  • One online/virtual cohort meeting, where all interns come together to share their share their learnings and reflect together
  • One online or in-person meeting with their mentor (local clergy or Jewish youth professional) to learn and reflect on their data gathering and explore their topic through a Jewish lens

In the second half of the year (February-May), interns will:

  • Engage in regular cohort meetings to plan and implement Lansing Advocacy Day
  • In groups of 3-4, meet regularly with the NFTY-MI Regional Youth Specialist and their mentors to create and implement a project plan for one community-wide social justice program

Be the CHANGE’s monthly virtual meetings are designed to allow participants to connect easily without taking time for travel. Using an online video platform, our meetings will allow for meaningful conversation and interactive activities, and will take full advantage of technology through sharing visuals and utilizing virtual break-out groups.
NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam, personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. NFTY’s Michigan Region (MI) includes the entire state of Michigan.

NFTY-MI is thrilled to welcome teens to be a part of the Be the CHANGE internship as an opportunity for engagement in Reform Jewish social justice and interest-based skill development. We are excited for teens to participate in Be the CHANGE as a year-long intensive program that runs side-by-side with other NFTY events and programming. Interns will be invited to attend additional regional events (kallot), and encouraged to share their work with our greater community of Reform Jewish teens.

Interns who successfully complete the year will receive a $180 stipend and a certificate of completion.

In addition, funds will be available for interns to create and implement their community-wide social justice event for their peers. 

Interns will be required to attend all events and meetings, or reschedule with sufficient notice (this requirement may be waived in the case of emergency).

September 2018-January 2019:

  • One monthly learning opportunity in the field – dates TBD
  • One monthly cohort meeting (online) – dates TBD
  • One monthly mentor meeting (in-person or online) – dates TBD

October 26-27, 2018: Intern retreat

February-May 2019:

  • In topic groups, interns will each plan one community-wide social justice event for Jewish teens. (We will work to space events out as evenly as possible throughout the semester.)
  • Interns are required to attend the event they plan and are highly encouraged to support other interns by attending all events

March 10-11, 2019: Lansing Advocacy Day

May 2019: Year-end evaluation

The application window for the 2018-2019 Be the CHANGE intern cohort is closed. However, teens who are interested in becoming involved are strongly encouraged to participate in Be the CHANGE social justice programming during the spring semester, planned by interns. Please sign up to receive registration updates for these events!

For more information please contact Aaron Klaus, NFTY MI Regional Youth Specialist, at aklaus@urj.org.