Imagine you’re a new college graduate and you’re playing around with the idea of becoming a Jewish Educator. You have already taken advantage of some isolated part-time opportunities to teach Hebrew school and had some enriching summer leadership experiences. But, the chance to work full-time in a full-year teaching capacity straight out of college is a long shot, since many of these roles require more advanced degrees.

Enter the Jewish Learning Innovation Corps (JLIC), UpStart Accelerator Alumnus Edah’s newest innovative project.

JLIC is an 11-month service-learning fellowship in Berkeley, California for the next generation of Jewish educators. In addition to meeting the needs of that new college graduate who craves the skills-development and feedback that come from learning within an organization full-time, the Corps was also developed to meet a growing need in the field – educators trained in a particular type of experiential education focusing heavily on Hebrew language as central to Jewish learning – a cornerstone of Edah.

This mutually beneficial approach builds off of Edah’s first innovation chapter, which started in the UpStart Accelerator. Edah applied to the Accelerator and focused on answering the question: “How might we reposition Jewish learning and Hebrew literacy as an exciting, viable option within the menu of afterschool childcare?” Their answer: A full-service, hebrew-infused, Jewish experiential afterschool program five days a week and during select school breaks for children grades Pre-K to 5 and their families. Now Edah is serving 31 families and over 50 children, and is exploring expanding beyond their Berkeley base. And their vision goes beyond the Bay Area with the larger Nitzan Network* and Studio 70,  learning laboratories devoted to the exploration of alternative models, approaches, and philosophies of part-time Jewish education.

According to Executive Director, Rabbi Joshua “Yoshi” Fenton, the JLIC is the next step in the story of innovation at Edah. “With this new initiative Edah has become a laboratory for students and educators alike. While children explore Hebrew language and Jewish learning through a variety of programs and approaches, young educators practice and refine new skills daily as part of the Edah staff. In essence, with the Jewish Learning Innovation Corps we have transformed Edah into a lab school focused on revolutionizing part time Jewish learning.”

Edah’s ongoing innovation is a testament to the power of human-centered design, and many of the other tools taught in the UpStart Accelerator. By understanding their users’ kvetches (pains) and designing solutions for them, Edah is opening up new access points to Jewish education, and continuing to create new value within the Jewish community.

Know a recent graduate who’s interested in becoming a Jewish educator? The application deadline for this year’s JLIC is May 31. Learn more here.

Edah isn’t the only UpStart alum doing cool things. Learn more about UpStart Accelerator Alumni.

*Current UpStart Accelerator organizations Jewish Kids GroupBayitJewish Enrichment Center are also in the Nitzan Network.

Originally published on May 26, 2016 by Upstart Lab