AVODAH The Jewish Service Corps Inc

Rating: 4.85 stars   74 reviews


45 West 36th Street 8th Floor New York NY 10018 USA


AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps engages young people in direct work on the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. Participants in our service Corps program live out and deepen their commitments to social change and Jewish life through a year of full-time work at anti-poverty organizations in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC.  This work partners Corps members with service providers and residents in low income communities and equips our Corps members and alumni to emerge as lifelong agents for social change, whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values. After participants complete this intensive one-year program, AVODAH’s partnership with American Jewish World Service provides a broad platform for long-term leadership in social change and Jewish life.

Geographic areas served:

United States


See schedule ofounded in new york city in 1998, avodah is training the next generation of jewish leaders through its service corps, which places post-college young adults (ages 2126) in a year of full-time service at antipoverty organizations. During the year, corps members live together in an intentional community and participate in weekly educational programs designed to give them the skills and networks to prepare them to become leaders. Over the past sixteen years, avodah corps members across four cities (new york, chicago, new orleans and washington, dc) have directly improved the lives of 533,000 individuals and added an estimated $13 million in staffing capacity to 150 local antipoverty organizations. "avodah" in hebrew means "work" or "service", and the combined meaning can be understood as one's "life's work". Avodah's service corps program has led participants to a sustained commitment to working for justice. A recent survey, facilitated by outside evaluators, about how the program influenced the trajectory of participants' lives found that: - 75% (3 out of 4) say that their current job involves antipoverty or social justice work; - 92% say avodah set them on their current professional path; and - 85% say that avodah helped them find their place in the jewish community. There are close to 700 alumni living across the united states and other parts of the world and they have assumed leadership roles across the jewish and nonprofit communities - as professionals, lay leaders, clergy, organizers, activists and volunteers. Avodah alumni receive advanced leadership training, networking opportunities, and support to foster their development as jewish leaders. In addition to the program's transformative impact on participants, avodah also makes significant contributions to its nonprofit placement agencies and to the low-income communities it serves. As local antipoverty organizations face increased demand for services coupled with declining funding, avodah's high-quality, cost-effective staffing model offers agencies a real solution. In their placements, avodah corps members build the capacity of avodah's partner agencies to directly address many of the issues faced by poor communities, including limited access to healthcare, housing, food security, and educational opportunities. Avodah's partner agencies consistently report being able to offer their clients new and expanded services as a direct result of having an avodah corps member on staff. In 2012, approaching its 15th year and 500th service corps member, avodah began to ask how it could extend its impact and scale even further, and longer term, create organizational and financial efficiencies. To this end, in january 2014 avodah launched the avodah fellowship (the "fellowship"), a new leadership development program for professionals early in their careers working to address the causes and effects of poverty. Based on a curriculum grounded in jewish thought and learning, the fellowship provides mentorship, training, community, and networking opportunities to support emerging jewish professionals engaged in the antipoverty field, while integrating participants into avodah's extensive alumni network of social justice leaders throughout the country. To date, the fellowship has engaged over 35 individuals in 2 cohorts and has exceeded avodah's expectations. Evaluations completed by the first cohort include: - 100% reported a deepened understanding of how social activism and jewish life intersect. - 95% reported that the fellowship strengthened their connection to jewish values. - 95% reported that the fellowship strengthened their connection to jewish identity. - 82% reported better understanding the causes and effects of poverty. - 94% reported sustained/strengthened commitment to do work on economic and social justice.

2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for AVODAH The Jewish Service Corps Inc

Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

My experience in AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps was one of the pivotal experiences of my life. As a volunteer coordinator I learned how to coordinate a program, manage a program, recruit and retain volunteers as well as navigate Brooklyn, New York. The corps members and I in my year really forged a close bond based upon shared values and though I am not always in touch as often as I might like, I still count them among my closest friends. Several years ago, AVODAH decided to work on alumni and the engagement there has been improving though still has a long way to go. Because so many of the alumni are still based in New York almost all of the programming takes place there. Because of my own personal scheduling challenges I have only been able to attend one alumni retreat and hope to be present at more in the future. I Think AVODAH does tremendously important work all of the people who are touched by its' programs from clients to corps members to any person that interacts with a corps member after their service year.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

utilizing the skills I gained in my rabbinate today.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Utilize more technology such as webinars to continue to foster relationships.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the camaraderie and friendship amongst corps members and alumni.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated, thoughtful, intelligent, inspiring and making the world better everyday.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Open more sites so that corps members are able to learn and gain skills that will enable even more clients to benefit. In addition, alumni would be able to continue to use their skills in their professional lives.

Ways to make it better...

the bulk of the programming didn't take place on the east coast.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

The financial downturn and the increasing need for volunteer services without the funds to support the work being done.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

This organization is outstanding in every way. AVODAH provides young Jews with an opportunity to serve the larger community through their placements in a variety of social service agencies. The experience of the participants is embedded within the Jewish tradition's strivings for social justice. AVODAH's staff is notable for its tremendous integrity and dedication to repairing the world.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...


How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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