Tzedek Program Turns Seventh Graders into Philanthropists
In the seventh grade, students participate in the Tzedek Program, a yearlong service learning curriculum focused on leadership and philanthropy. Founded in 1998, this program is designed to help students gain deep knowledge of the Jewish mitzvah of giving tzedakah, and about the different kind of needs that exist in their community and the world. Seventh grade families pool resources that would otherwise go toward purchasing b'nai mitzvah gifts for each student and instead create a class fund to be used for philanthropic purposes.
Armed with the knowledge they’ve learned in class and direct engagement with local and national non-profit organizations, seventh graders make educated philanthropic decisions, all through a Jewish lens. The project culminates with the students allocating grants to non-profit organizations that they themselves have explored and championed throughout the project. The class also writes a weekly blog about the organizations they are researching. Click here to read the student blog.
This is a key seventh grade project that integrates our secular and Judaic studies curriculum with our students' personal experience and values to help repair the world in a tangible way. Over the past several years, Brandeis seventh graders have donated over $110,000 to more than 25 non-profit organizations.
We are proud that this program has been recognized on a national level by Ron Lieber in his best-selling book "The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money." In December 2016 Lieber described the Tzedek Project, which he has called "the best school-based giving program I've ever encountered" in his Your Money column in the New York Times. Click here for the article.