>>Mon Sep 24, 2012
Each year PresenTense ends the previous year with the beginning of the new year in mind. Really, we do, and not only metaphorically: one of the traditions we've developed in PresenTense is an integrated, annual strategic planning process that enables us to review, as a Group, what we've done, to envision where we're going, and then to find a way to present it before those to whom we come for 'din v'heshbon' (those who judge the product of our labor), which is you, the general community.
The result is a transparency that is rare in the social sector (a sector we believe should be as transparent as possible owing to its reliance on the public for support).
This year we'll continue the tradition of posting the results of our strategic planning process online, as we have in previous years, but I'd like to kick up transparency a notch by including some of our background materials on HOW we plan and run these days as well - so that other organizations who want to develop a transparent practice can do so as well.
And so here is an email I sent the staff before we began this year's planning process, back in June 2012. Hope it helps frame the process from our internal perspective:
As one year of programming ends, another begins.
Over the course of the next six weeks we will oversee eleven launch nights on three continents - helping to launch almost as many new social ventures as we have in the past five years. That's quite amazing stuff, and we should all be very, very proud of ourselves - and thankful to the energy of the volunteers who made it possible, and the generosity of the communities that have enabled us to work together with them to change the world.
>>Fri Apr 22, 2011
You can read more about the event, Bring It In Israel and Netanya Hoops for Kids in this article in the Baltimore Sun:
>>Thu Apr 21, 2011
By PresenTense NYC Fellow, Josh Nelson, Founder of The Warehouse
>>Tue Mar 22, 2011
By Miriam Bader, Director of Education at the Eldridge St. Museum
PresenTense NYC Fellow
(You can check out this post, and other NYC Fellows' perspectives at: http://www.nycfellowship.com/blog.html)
A central goal of the Jewish day school movement is to instill students with a strong Jewish identity. Students need to be able to answer the questions of “Who am I” and “Where do I come from.” The study of Jewish history helps students shape their understanding of the Jewish people and their role within it. Most Jewish history classes focus primarily on ancient Jewish history, the Holocaust and Israel. American Jewish history often does not make the cut even though the topic is most relevant to students’ lives.
At the Museum at Eldridge Street, I take thousands of students through the Landmark 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first great house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in America. As they explore the magnificently restored sanctuary, they step into history and grapple with the challenges faced by what was once the largest Jewish community in the world.
Out of all the student groups that come from both public and private schools, only a small percentage visit from Jewish day schools. As the Director of Education, this continues to surprise me. As a PresenTense fellow, I have been working to solve this mystery.
>>Tue Mar 15, 2011
By Sarah Sokolic (NYC Fellow)
Founder of Arts By Day, an Artist-In-Residency Program for Jewish Day Schools
check out the original blog post at www.nycfellowship.com
It’s in there. It is. The vision, the concept, what the final product will look like. It’s all there in your head, your heart – in the gut of your belly. Marinating, curating, gestating. For weeks, months, sometimes years.
Where it isn’t is on paper, in a clear, articulated plan for the entire world to see and applaud you for your ingenuity and brilliance. You wish someone had invented that perfect brain dump. A digital download that would magically compose and sort all of your thoughts and ideas into a compelling, articulate business plan or proposal. Yeah, that would be nice. One day there will be an app for that.
In the meantime, there’s PresenTense. And the thoughtful planning and preparation process they take their Fellows though in helping to bring our ideas from concept to paper to fruition. The ongoing workshops, case studies, coaching and mentorship all serve as infusions of pitocin, stimulating ideas and accelerating the process, ultimately enabling us to “give birth” to our ideas.
>>Sun Nov 21, 2010
Growing up in a traditional Jewish-American home the American Holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Years) was similar for me to the ideas of a Jewish Holiday season- we spent a lot of time with family, ate a lot of traditional foods, and did charity work (The only exception may have been we also watched a lot of football and saw the newest movies out in theaters). My memories were not only visiting with all my different cousins, eating Turkey, yams, and stuffing and the all-time favorite chinese food, they also include spending time at the local Jewish old age home, volunteering at soup kitchens, and attending different runs and fund raisers to raise money for the causes close to our hearts.
This past week began our families holiday season, not only because I was getting a head start on my thanksgiving cooking (the house is smelling good), not only because now that the new Harry Potter movie has come out we are looking up the times for its showing this coming Friday, but because last night was the Ivymount School Auction. For those of you who have read my posts before, in addition to my many passions, one area I care deeply about is helping kids with disabilities, and Ivymount is another example of a program that does just this.
Started over 50 years ago, Ivymount School, located in Rockville, MD, is a school for severely disabled individuals, ranging in disability and age (it's students are anywhere from 3 years old to 21). Ivymount, in addition to providing their students a top of the line education, provides the families and friends of their students with the support they need, they provide educators who teach in mainstream schools the education they need to provide kids in their classrooms with disabilities the extra assistance, and its staff and lay leaders have been some of the leading advocates for better education opportunities for special education in America.
>>Tue Nov 9, 2010
I first realized I was a pitch junkie at the 2006 Israel Venture Conference hosted by the then WolfBlock Law Firm in Philadelphia.
I experienced this amazing energy every time I heard another entrepreneur’s story and his/her vision for how this business was going to be the next 100x return.
What struck me the most while listening to the Israeli entrepreneurs’ presentations was the conviction with which these entrepreneurs spoke about their life long dream to start their business. Really, if it’s anything that an entrepreneur must possess – it is undying belief and dedication to his/her product/service.
But regardless of this fervor, most did not sell the audience. And even though I was excited thinking about the potential of their patent-pending technologies, I found myself dozing along with the professional venture capitalists who were clearly assessing whether or not it was worth their time.
As I’ve heard countless pitches since then – from my classmates, to Israeli entrepreneurs, start-up non profit professionals – ranging from 30 seconds to 15 minutes – I’ve realize that it is an art to put together the perfect pitch.
And I am by no means an expert. I still struggle with my own presentation skills, but after sharing a bit of wisdom last Thursday night at the NYC Fellowship Pitch Slam (check out pictures and video here) I’ve come up with the following additional suggestions to master the perfect pitch:
>>Fri Oct 8, 2010
We (Shelby and Naomi) spent Wednesday building IKEA furniture for our new NYC Hub. Situated on the 7th Floor at The Jewish Center on the Upper West Side, we have an amazing location with huge windows that let in phenomenal sunlight. Like the Hub in Jerusalem, we are working to build an open, inviting space where all members of the PresenTense community are welcome to stop by for a 2-hour work session, a cup of coffee or a half-hour cat nap on our new couch.
This atmosphere is a perfect synergy with our Landlord, The Jewish Center, which has positioned itself as The place of Modern Orthodox community, life and learning – and a building that is open to all, regardless of affiliation.
Our goal is to also create a space that breathes inspiration, innovation and experimentation. White boards, open meeting space, FAST wi-fi, bright colors and a library (to be collected) will give PresenTense and our community the physical resources we need to channel our pioneering spirit.
And by building the office from the ground up, it affirmed the sense of satisfaction that comes after any intense, focused effort. Like PresenTense, our Fellows, and our entrepreneurial community and Partners – we’ve learned that our ventures grow as a result of our toil, sweat and (sometimes) tears – so how appropriate that our Hub should reflect that same energy.
>>Wed Jul 14, 2010
Not your Grandmother’s Judaism
PresenTense Global Fellow Fashions Hip Jewish Identity
Jerusalem, Israel-July 7th, 2010— Hip, cool, edgy, and fresh … These are the words Yishai Mizrahi-Varon aims to communicate not only about fashion and music, but also about Judaism. As the Associate Marketing Director for Shemspeed, an independent recording label devoted to Jewish, World, and Alternative music, Mizrahi-Varon is launching the Shemspeed Keffiyeh Project at the PresenTense 2010 Global Institute. The goal of the Shemspeed Keffiyeh Project is to leverage popular trens – in this case, fashion and music – in order to engage young Jews in an interactive dialogue about Jewish identity, culture, and Israel.
Beginning in the fall, Mizrahi-Varon and Erez Safar, the Founder and Director of Shemspeed, will bring this innovative program to college campuses throughout the U.S. The project will feature an Israeli version of the keffiyeh (a Middle Eastern scarf that has emerged as the ultra hip fashion accessory especially among college students), informal workshops about Jewish identity, cutting edge and original Jewish music, and role models that personify creativity, passion, and Jewish commitment.