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Avodah

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, Economic Development, Judaism, Leadership Development, Religion

Mission: Avodah develops lifelong social justice leaders whose work is informed by Jewish values and who inspire the Jewish community to work toward a more just and equitable world.

Results: For more than 20 years, we’ve been inspiring Jewish leaders to commit to a life of social change, promoting a vision of Jewish life rooted in justice, and engaging the broader Jewish community in some of the most pressing issues facing our country at a local and national level. Avodah has more than 1,200 alumni and has contributed more than 1.9 million hours of service to local anti-poverty organizations around the country. We have partnered with more than 200 of the top non-profit organizations, serving nearly 715,000 people in need. In our 20 years of service, we have provided local organizations with nearly $2 million in staff capacity and engaged more than 18,000 people across the nation in the work for social and economic change.

Target demographics: Avodah works to build the next generation of Jewish leaders to address the country's most pressing social and economic issues.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Last year, we directly served 50,000 people in need and provided $2 million in staff capacity to local anti-poverty nonprofits throughout the country.

Geographic areas served: New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Kansas City

Programs: Avodah's programs include The Jewish Service Corps, a year of full-time service for Jewish adults ages 21-26 at leading nonprofits in Chicago, New York, New Orleans, and Washington, DC. Service Corps Members work in leading anti-poverty organizations, live together as a community, and participate in weekly educational programs to deepen their understanding of domestic poverty and explore their work through the lend of Jewish tradition and values; the Avodah Justice Fellowship, which convenes cohorts of early-career professionals for nine months of intensive learning, mentorship, and community building around social justice work through an inclusive Jewish lens in New York City, Chicago, and Kansas City; the Avodah Alumni Network, in which Avodah alumni are leading organizations, educating Jewish communities on the issues that matter, advocating for change on a local and national level. We support Avodah alumni through ongoing programming, engagement, and advanced skill-building; and Community Engagement programming, in which Avodah partners with organizations and educators in order to deepen our collective learning and draw the broader Jewish community into the most pressing social and economic issues of our time.

Community Stories

110 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

avodah provided me with the opportunity to live in community, explore my faith, and gain valuable experience doing hands-on social justice work. it was one of the most challenging and most rewarding years of my life.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a case manager at a homeless shelter for women with severe mental illness for a year through AVODAH.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH was exactly what I was looking for post college. The program gave me a chance to give back to a community in need, to live communally, and to engage with my own Judaism in a meaningful way. My placement/volunteer experience was helping formerly homeless or currently homeless and former substance abusers prepare to re-enter the workforce. I ran workshops on issues such as financial literacy and money management, succeeding in a job interview, and I helped create resumes for people who didn't have them or that needed updating. Living with the other people in the same house, who came with a variety of Jewish backgrounds, was both challenging and rewarding. I learned a great deal about myself and my Judaism, and also about communal living, time management, and conflict negotiation. Finally, engaging in community programs every week afforded us the chance to meet other social justice activists, to learn about important issues, and to enhance my Judaism through text study and discussion. AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps truly changed my life. I am currently studying to become a rabbi, and my time in AVODAH directly contributed to affirming my commitment to social justice, repairing the world, and being Jewish.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH changed my life both professionally and personally. My participation as an AVODAH Corps Member expanded my network, gave me essential exposure to a variety of social justice issues, and connected me with a job and a group of friends to continue my journey as a Jew working toward social justice every day. I am incredibly thankful for AVODAH.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization, caring staff, results-oriented. Always looking to improve themselves and those that work with them. I love AVODAH and all it stands for.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

being a participant in AVODAH transformed my life and changed the way that I look at the world. AVODAH taught me the value of social change work across the spectrum.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a phenomenal experience as an AVODAH corps member in New Orleans. AVODAH is training the next generation of Jewish Leaders.

5

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a corps member in AVODAH: the Jewish Service Corps. My experience in my placement (a community organization, providing crisis intervention/case management services to individuals in the neighborhood) and the skills I gained changed who I am, changed the way I see the world and helped push me towards pursuing a graduate degree in social work. The opportunities that AVODAH gave to create community among the corps members was imperative as we all struggled to understand and deal with the problems we saw our clients facing (i.e. the immense poverty and systemic problems in the city). While we were often tired going to AVODAH organized discussion sessions and activities, the process of building community as corps members, develop skills, and challenge each other's worldviews is something that has spurred me to continue pursuing work to fight the injustices in our society.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH is an amazing program. Not only was I able to work in a non-profit with support and guidance, but I was able to contextualize that work within a Jewish framework. the best year.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

AVODAH is a one of a kind organization really making a different in the lives of young Jews and the communities we are working in. We are learning, growing, and reaching out! One step at a time AVODAH is helping us to do our part and repair the world.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Avodah was a life changing experience. Skilled staff and a strong mission make this program effective and impactful. Our work was grounded in our values, and our learning and work complemented each other. I met great people and learned more about myself while strengthening my work skills and better comprehending the confluence of Judaism and social justice work.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had wonderful experience while participating as an AVODAH service corps member. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to live in community with amazing, socially engaged young Jewish people. I also got to have my first job in the context of a supportive organization.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently a corps member with AVODAH. I have learned a lot out social justice issues in Washington, DC. We've taken a gentrification tour of part of the city. We've had different speakers and great discussions. It's been great.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have found AVODAH has met and exceeded my expectations as a service corps umbrella organization. As I was nearing my college graduation, I knew I wanted to give back to my country in a way I felt would be meaningful - a year of service was what I decided on. When I began researching AmeriCorps programs, AVODAH caught my eye for its unique program and holistic approach to the volunteer: yes, you spend a year working at a non-profit, but in addition, you live with others going through the same experience. This support network has proven to be invaluable. We discuss the daily trials of working in underfunded organizations in a terrible economy and process the tough reality that as much as we want to make a difference, change can be slow and systematic change even slower. The nonprofit at which I work is a great fit for me. I wholeheartedly support the organization's mission and am honored to be able to further the mission through my service. I do not think I would have had the opportunity to work at my placement had I not earned the job through AVODAH, for which I am grateful. For a secular Jew, I was concerned that AVODAH would be overwhelmingly religious. While I admit I have participated in more religious events and discussions in the 6 weeks of the program than I have combined for the past 6 years of my life, I have not felt it oppressive or a waste of time. Much of AVODAH's religious program component is optional, which I appreciate. I would strongly recommend AVODAH to a young Jew interested in social justice work and living communally!

3

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a Corps Member last year and could not have asked for a better experience. I feel so much more enriched because of my time participating in AVODAH.

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I did AVODAH in 08-09, and it changed my life. Thank you AVODAH! Social Justice and Judaism are now an integral part of my life.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

By participating in AVODAH, I was able to build a strong, Jewish community while also working in an urban anti-poverty organization. It was a real-world, real-life experience that continues to teach me to this day. It was an experience that will truly continue to shape me as an individual, Jew, and public servant.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH is awesome! Its educational programming supports corps members in doing important work, it encourages reflection, and it values community and relationships for those in the Jewish and social justice worlds.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Excellent program. I learned a lot about how to be a more fulfilled Jew and person while in AVODAH. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH has been a rewarding experience combining intentional community, Jewish education, and social justice work. My time in AVODAH, even thus far, has been productive in the challenges it has set before me.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 4

AVODAH was the perfect transition from college life to the the real world. It was an educational and practical year that helped me better understand myself, and how I related to others in a variety of settings. It also helped me get an idea of what I might be interested, but more importantly what I did not want to do career wise. AVODAH also greatly strengthened my Jewish identity which was always pretty minimal, especially in any religious sense.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a current corps member and love this opportunity to learn more about social justice work, Judaism, living in an intentionial community and this wonderful, complicated city of New Orleans. I am challenged daily with how to react to new situations and ideas and I love getting to face these challenges with lots of support from AVODAH and my housemates. We are constantly exposed to new perspectives with the guest speaker that come to talk to our group, and these discussions always seem to prompt more and more conversation, not only with each other, but with ourselves and the greater community as well. This experience has been incredible so far, already far exceeding my expectations! I'm excited to see what unfolds the rest of the year!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Avodah is a remarkable organization that intersects social justice, community service, communal living, and Judaism. The 15 women in my program city are wonderful and well intentioned and invested in getting what they can out of this experience. I have the opportunity to do work I would otherwise not have been introduced to as well as experience a different part of the country and learn more about anti-poverty work in my city. Avodah is a large commitment and not just a blip on my way to a career. I'm glad for the opportunity to participate in weekly programming where I learn about aforementioned aspects of the organization as well as have the chance to reflect and share my experience. In only the 1.5 months I've been a part of Avodah I've felt like I've developed a community of friends and fellow corps members that support the work I do as well as provide great company!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a 2009/2010 Corps member in New Orleans and so far, it has been one of the most formative experiences of my life!

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a corp member this past year August 2008-August 2009. It was a great opportuntiy to work for social justice right out of college. The organization places people in very prestigious non-profits, many jobs that are hard to get initially without this particular opportunity. The learning aspect helped introduce me to other non-profit organizations and helped me strengthen my leadership skills in the social justice sector.

2

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

My year with AVODAH was pivotal in my journey to becoming a Jewish Communal Service professional and receiving my MSW. It was an invaluable experience that is hard to put into words.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was in AVODAH in DC from 2005-2006. AVODAH offered me a tremendous opportunity to do anti-poverty work in the community. While we worked in jobs and lived simply just as we might have in typical Americorps positions, AVODAH offered us incredible "extra" support that was invaluable to us and our placements. AVODAH supported us socially - because we lived with people having similar ideals and going through experiences. AVODAH supported us financially - because it ensured that we had affordable housing, and it worked with our sites to make sure medical costs would not exceed our ability to pay them. AVODAH works with corps members and site placements to make sure jobs will be good opportunities and can be a mediator if any difficulties arise with the placement. Beyond the benefits to the participants, AVODAH is in a family of service corps that provided tremendous benefits to non-profits in the DC area. Site placements know that they're getting great employees for low cost, and they're likely to continue as AVODAH site placements year after year. AVODAH is wonderful!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 4

worked at an anti-poverty organization providing a soup kitchen and social services to the homeless and low-income community in ocean hill/brownsville/bed-stuy

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH provided an incredibly opportunity for me and hundreds of young Jews across the country. I was an AVODAH Corps Member from 2006-2007, working at a local workers rights non-profit in Washinton, DC. The AVODAH experience was truly transformative. As fellows, we worked full time at anti-poverty non-profit organizations, earned a small living stipend, lived communally with the other fellows, and participated in programming that helped us explore the intellectual and spiritual underpinnings for a life of social justice and anti-poverty work. This model is a stellar one. Anti-poverty work is simultaneously inspiring, disheartening, frustrating and enlivening - having a network of peers doing similar work who we could share successes and challenges with and come to for support and guidance was an incredibly valuable aspect of the program. AVODAH helped to solidify in me a lifelong committment to social justice, and it provided me, again, with a network of peers who have a similar committment. It also helped to ground my work in the long Jewish tradition of acting out of compassion to better the lives of others and to view ourselves as part of a larger community - one that extends far beyond the neighborhood where we grew up or the college we attended.

2

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

AVODAH has changed my life in a powerful and substantial way. AVODAH gave me the experience of being in a community with thirteen people who were very influential on my character and work. AVODAH gives young Jews who have a passion for social justice the chance to live together, support one another, and learn from each other. My friendships from AVODAH will last for the rest of my life. I currently live with four other people who I did AVODAH with. With a similar sense of purpose and values, I have found people who were not just a part of a program with me, but an invaluable support system and close friends. AVODAH also gave me the opportunity to work at an organization that I am very passionate about in a position that helped me grow professionally and personally. I was able to have a major impact on youth in Chicago Public Schools. I developed very special relationships with students that I continue to foster. AVODAH also exposed me to the non-profit community in Chicago. I was familiar with the organization I currently work for because of AVODAH. AVODAH was one of the best decisions I have made in my life and I'm lucky and grateful to have had the experience of being a Corps member. Thank you, Sarah Miles s.catherine.miles@gmail.com

7

Former Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a service corps member with AVODAH, I had the opportunity to join a wonderful group of like-minded individuals striving to create a community of young Jews fighting for social justice. Now that my year of service is over, I am happy to be an active participant in the alumni community which keeps its members motivated and engaged in social justice work along with providing a resource of highly connected people who are always willing to help members of their fellow community.

9

Former staff

Rating: 5

In 2007-08 I was a Corps Member, during which time I had the opportunity to work with an amazing non-profit and learn a plethora of information regarding a variety of social justice issues via discussion, text study, site visits, and volunteering. I continue to work with AVODAH as a contract worker and I am impressed by the organization's focus and drive in pursuing its mission.

9

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

My year on AVODAH was a life-changing experience, teaching me about community relations and non-profit operation, communication skills and most importantly, connecting me with some of the best friends I have. The staff at AVODAH are superb and believe in the mission of the organization. Now, as an alumni, I am still involved with programming and events and feel connected to other Jewish activists because of our shared experience.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My year with Avodah was a transformative experience. It was one of the most challenging, most beautiful years of my life. However, it sure as hell wasn't easy. I came to the program most excited about the placement (I was at a wonderful organization called i.c.stars) and was most trepidatious about the communal living aspect. it turned out I learned the most from living with 6 other young Jews learning how to change the world. I learned about the conscientiousness necessary when dealing with people living in community. This connected directly to working with communities outside my own and the importance if inclusion and considering as many different points of view as possible. My understanding of the world and myself was expanded tremendously.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an amazing year as an AVODAH Fellow. Living in an intentional community with other Jewish young adults, working in a direct service agency with low-income families and learning about Judaism and social justice combined to provide me with a really incredible post-college year. I made some of the best friends I've ever had in AVODAH, and learned very important lessons about what it means to create an intentional community. My job as a social worker provided me with important job experience and life lessons about working with the low-income community and what it means to be poor in America.

7

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an incredible experience with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. AVODAH is incredibly intentional about the three core parts of their program: setting the participant up with a non-profit organization to embark upon social change work, intentional community living, and programming related to Judaism and social justice. The convergence of all three of these components made the program an incredible experience for myself and other corps members.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an Avodah corps member in '08-'09, and my experience working at a nonprofit that provided legal assistance to victims of domestic violence transformed the way I see the world and my plans for the future.

8

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Avodah changed my life! My Avodah year launched my professional career, helped me deepen my connection to Judaism, and brought me incredible friendships. It was an unparalleled experience of personal and professional growth!

1

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Avodah is an amazing program that has helped shaped the lives and careers of hundreds of young adults! It taught me about poverty, judaism, and community among many other things.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a current Corps member for AVODAH in Chicago, I am truly amazed by all the work the organization does to educate Corps members about activism and social justice, and to connect grassroots organizations who are making real change everyday. Even in my first month, I feel I have grown as an activist, as a Jew, and as a person committed to giving back.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known dozens of people who were participants in AVODAH. Each of them had a life-changing experience. They spoke about the community they formed with like-minded individuals and how much they were challenged at work and at home, but how much support they received as well.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I work with nonprofit organizations for my job and so I know something about nonprofits. What AVODAH has that's amazing is the passion of young people working for social justice within the umbrella of their own heritage. The participants in AVODAH's year-long program are, to a person, amazing individuals who are making a difference in urban communities in the US. I am privileged to know some of them and honored to support the organization.