Tzedek Program Turns Seventh Graders into Philanthropists
In the seventh grade, students participate in the nationally-recognized 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 needs that exist in their community and the world. Seventh grade families pool together 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 in talking with many organizations, seventh graders make educated philanthropic decisions, all through a Jewish lens. The project culminates with the students allocating grants to nonprofit 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 all academic subjects with our Judaic studies curriculum and our students' personal experience and values, to impact the world at large in a very real, tangible way. In the last four years, Brandeis seventh graders have donated over $110,000 to more than 25 non-profit organizations.
This program has been recognized on a national level on two different occasion. It was included in the 2015 book The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber, and in December 2016 our program was featured in Lieber's Your Money column of the New York Times. Click here for the article. Our program was described by Lieber as "best school-based giving program I’ve ever encountered."