Mission: BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement in North America aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. For more than 80 years, AZA and BBG (boys and girls chapters respectively) in communities around the world have been providing exceptional leadership programs and Jewish identity enrichment, shaping the lives of 250,000 alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academia, the arts and Jewish communal life. Now, more than ever, BBYO offers innovative opportunities for teens to connect with one another, serve their communities, navigate the college admissions process and travel the world, providing each participant with a network of lifelong friends, a perspective which adds value and meaning to life and a shared commitment toward strengthening the Jewish future.
Programs: Inspired by our past and motivated by the needs of the future, BBYO is committed to reaching Jewish teens in unprecedented numbers. This commitment comes at a critical point, as the Jewish community is struggling to connect young people to their heritage and history. Fewer and fewer Jewish teens are engaging in Jewish life following their b'nai mitzvot, and one study shows that by the time Jewish teens reach their senior year of high school, less than 30% are involved in any formal or informal Jewish experiences. As a teen-led, pluralistic organization, BBYO is uniquely positioned to reverse this trend and to ensure a more secure Jewish future by using new approaches and emerging technologies to capture the Jewish teen market in ways that were once unimaginable.
Key to the organization's success has been a highly effective leadership model operating on the local, national and international levels through a fraternity/sorority-based chapter structure. Formerly affiliated with B'nai B'rith, in 2002, BBYO was restructured as an independent international organization. While still capitalizing upon its leadership development programs, this move to independence affords BBYO the opportunity to forge a new direction and adopt a much more expansive and transformational approach to engaging Jewish teens.
BBYO now offers a broad array of social, political, spiritual and cultural opportunities. Jewish teens are encouraged to create and lead their own communities through local chapters and BBYO's unique online network - www.b-linked.org. Once connected, they have access to a variety of resources to help them through the college admissions process, take part in community service projects, travel to Israel and around the world and communicate with their peers.
BBYO and Central Region East BBG was a very important part of my Jr. High & High School experience. Growing up in a mostly Christian part of PA, this was a low stress, fun way to meet other Jewish teens, make friends and have tons of fun.
I also attended ILTC which was a great experience.
As national director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, I have seen BBYO transform itself over the past seven years into an organization that truly “gets” teens. With its finger constantly on the pulse of teen trends, BBYO presents an excellent opportunity for engaging young Jewish leaders and providing deep, meaningful experiences that create a permanent connection to the Jewish community.
The proof of BBYO’s success is both anecdotal—just read the reviews submitted here by BBYO alumni—and very quantifiable: nearly 28,000 teens currently participate in BBYO programs, an 82% increase over the number of teens involved when BBYO assumed new leadership just five years ago and more than double the number of teens involved when BBYO became independent of B’nai B’rith International in 2002. An independent study showed that BBYO alumni have a stronger Jewish connection than those in the general Jewish population based on several measures, including how they regard being Jewish and their emotional attachment to Israel.
Furthermore, with exemplary professionals manning the helm through tight operational controls and data management, BBYO has developed a time-tested strategic and forward-thinking approach to its work. Teens are given high-level opportunities to drive the organization and develop valuable leadership skills—including public speaking, program planning, community organizing and managing people—that prepare them to make positive contributions to the world around them as adults. Through its Professional Development Institute (PDI), BBYO is providing several cohorts of professionals with free MBA degrees and certificates in Jewish education to support and grow their work in the Jewish community.
For our foundation, it imperative that the organizations we support are working to engage as many young Jews as possible in vibrant Jewish communities that are welcoming, diverse and inclusive; supportive of Israel; and dedicated to service. BBYO has created an efficient, effective network that delivers this pivotal experience for the teen cohort. Our chair, Lynn Schusterman, summed it up best when she said, “BBYO is one of my most meaningful philanthropic endeavors because it represents our greatest hope that today’s teens will grow up to raise Jewish families, be leaders in the Jewish community and live, full Jewish lives.”