Visionary philanthropists Milly z’’l and Herb z’’l Iris shared a passion to nurture future generations of leaders for our Jewish community. In 2006, Milly and the Iris family, friends, community leaders, and business associates contributed more than $1 million to an endowment in Herb’s memory. Milly and her daughters set out to honor Herb’s legacy of building a stronger Jewish future by creating the Iris Teen Tzedakah program and establishing a mission for the fund to promote Jewish philanthropy, activism, and involvement by Jewish teens and their families. Since 2006 the program has grown and evolved to what today is a 3-tiered program for teens to be a part of throughout their high school career.
Iris Teen Tzedakah
Iris Teen Tzedakah focuses on the values of philanthropy, Jewish education, and leadership. It is a one-year program open to rising 9th and 10th graders. Iris Advisors (that’s what we call the teen participants) explore how the Greater MetroWest community responds to people in need locally, globally, and in Israel.
Iris Advisors contribute $250 into the group pool. The collective funds are matched by the Herb & Milly Iris Youth and Family Philanthropy Endowment. Each cohort oversees roughly $15,000 and decides how to allocate the money based on the learning and experiences facilitated in the program. Iris Advisors get exclusive access to our community’s leaders, philanthropists, and experts who share insights on the values and traditions of Jewish giving. Learn more
Iris Peer Tzedakah Participant Expectations:
- Contribute $250 to the Iris fund for allocations
- Attend monthly weeknight sessions
- Attend one overnight weekend program
Iris Teen Mitzvot
Iris Teen Mitzvot is the second level to engage with Iris teen programming. It is a one-year program open to rising 10th and 11th graders. Participants combine their philanthropic knowledge with new lessons in tikkun olam (repairing the world) and gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) to formulate hands-on service events for the Greater MetroWest community. This leadership development program empowers participants to become experienced as community organizers, event coordinators, team members, and Jewish educators through involvement in:
- Mitzvah Mania. Participants join small teams tasked with developing hands-on Jewish service-learning events throughout Greater MetroWest for the seasonal Mitzvah Manias. Each team learns the skills to plan, recruit for, and run these events. Iris Teen Mitzvot participants support each other by attending their peers’ Mitzvah Mania events.
- Mentorship. The Iris Teen Mitzvot participants receive mentorship from their corresponding Iris Peer Leader (see below). This peer-to-peer guidance builds upon leadership, programmatic, and teamwork skills.
- CommUNITY Mitzvah Day. Participants are assigned to specific projects for CommUNITY Mitzvah Day. They help in the recruitment, logistics, planning and implementation of these projects.
- Small group meetings. In addition to the monthly whole-group meetings and large events, small groups meet roughly six times to plan service projects, dive deeper into the skills, and connect with one another.
Iris Teen Mitzvot Participant Expectations:
- Contribute $180, which will be used to fund program expenses (such as service project materials)
- Attend monthly planning meetings, small group meetings and Mitzvah Mania opportunities.
- Iris Teen Mitzvot participants meet on average once a month for two hours on weeknights
Iris Teen Mitzvot is open to former participants of Iris Teen Tzedakah by invitation. Contact program coordinator for more information.
Iris Peer Leaders
Iris Peer Leaders is the final level of Iris teen programming. It is a one-year program open to rising 11th and 12th graders. The Iris Peer Leaders is a committee of 6 teen leaders from the community. The role of this committee is to serve as programmatic and thought leaders as it relates to developing teen opportunities. In addition, they can either serve as mentors for the Iris Teen Mitzvot program or serve as social media content creators and disseminators. Each participant gains valuable leadership training from field professionals and receives a $500 stipend upon completion of the program. Contact program coordinator for more information.
Iris Peer Leaders Participant Expectations:
Leadership – Serving as role models:
- Participate in select Iris Teen Tzedakah meeting.
- Lead one community service project for CommUNITY Mitzvah Day
- Attend CommUNITY Mitzvah Day planning meetings.
- Attend and facilitate all Iris Teen Mitzvot meetings.
- Serve as advisor for an Iris Teen Mitzvot group.
- Support and guide the creation of two service events for Winter and Spring Mitzvah Mania
Outreach – Serving as engagement liaisons:
- Meet directly with 10 Jewish teen peers over the year to learn about their interests and aspirations to give insight for future JTEEN volunteer programs.
- Serve as a liaison to represent JTEEN and Federation programs within your community (synagogue, youth group, or high school) by actively informing Jewish teen peers about programs available.