Stories of Impact: Connecting Young Families to Jewish Life

Boulder JCC, a MazelTot.org partner organization, offers summer camp programs like this one to MazelTot.org families.Boulder JCC, a MazelTot.org partner organization, offers summer camp programs like this one to MazelTot.org families.. Photo courtesy of the Boulder JCC. Rose Community Foundation is often recognized for leadership, innovation and collaboration in Greater Denver and Boulder’s Jewish communities.

In 2013, a Foundation Jewish Life initiative, MazelTot.org: Connecting Young Families to Jewish Life, was named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofit projects by The Slingshot Guide ’13-‘14, an annual compilation of the most inspiring and innovative Jewish organizations and programs in North America. This was the second year that MazelTot.org was included.

Slingshot selected MazelTot.org from hundreds of applicants for its unique approach and effectiveness in helping families with young children connect to local Jewish life. According to Slingshot, “Evaluators call MazelTot.org a ‘trailblazer’ and continue to applaud its dedication to accessible communal life and practice.”

MazelTot.org is successfully addressing a challenge faced by new parents. “They want to build Jewish community and make new friends for themselves and their children, however that can be difficult if you’re new to the area, if activity costs are high or if information about local Jewish life isn’t accessible,” explains Perri Klein, MazelTot.org coordinator.

MazelTot.org’s innovative approach starts with a network of partnerships with Jewish organizations throughout Denver and Boulder that offer programs and activities for families with young children. The MazelTot.org website serves as a central hub for prenatal through preschool-aged families to find information on upcoming events, playgroups, education programs and more. Families can also take advantage of sizeable discounts to explore opportunities to get involved.

Between launch in 2009 and November 2013, MazelTot.org had helped nearly 2,000 young families connect to Jewish life. Since joining, 79 percent of families attended a Jewish organization that was new to them, and 71 percent reported their Jewish life is growing at home.

Allison Schwartz is among those families. New to Boulder, MazelTot.org connected her to other young families and Jewish programs. “For people with very young kids it’s a nice way to get connected with other families with children of similar age,” explains Schwartz.

“I don’t know of any other resources like MazelTot.org,” adds Schwartz. “Lots of Jewish organizations have programming for young children, but unless you’re affiliated with them, you don’t hear about it. It’s very convenient that MazelTot.org collects all the information and tells you what’s happening for little kids.”

Schwartz’ positive experience led her to become a MazelTot.org parent connector, one of twelve new parent volunteers who actively build community between MazelTot.org families on- and offline. “I had such a positive experience with my kids and Jewish life in Boulder, I wanted to help other families have that same experience,” says Schwartz.

MazelTot.org is funded by Rose Community Foundation, in partnership with Paul Gillis, the Oreg Foundation and the Slingshot Fund.

Learn how you can get involved – as a donor, family or volunteer at rcfdenver.org/mazeltot.

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