STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Continuing its drive to cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders, Hillel International is expanding its Springboard Fellowship with a second cohort of 25 new participants for the next year of the program, building on the first class of 20 early career professionals including Penn State’s own Emma Kaplan. The two-year fellowship provides hands-on mentorship, competitive compensation and dynamic professional development opportunities from local and national Hillel staff as well as experts from across the corporate and non-profit worlds.
The ‘Bet’ class of fellows will focus on either innovation or social justice, while the ‘Aleph’ class will enter their second academic year, continuing their concentrations on innovation and social media.
“Springboard has been, hands down, the best out-of-college job I could have dreamed of. This job has truly changed the entire trajectory of my life,” explained Emma Kaplan, Springboard Innovation Specialist. “Springboard found me and changed me and for that I am forever grateful. I feel that I have had the chance to grow personally, professionally, and Jewishly through this Fellowship and have done so alongside 20 incredible and inspiring peers. It's amazing to be 23, six months out of college, and already feel that my work makes a difference.”
Penn State Hillel hired Kaplan in 2016 from Hillel International’s Springboard Fellows ‘Aleph’ cohort. Innovation Fellows are trained in Design Thinking methodology to spark new ideas, to connect with students, and to infuse creativity into Jewish life on campus.
This year, Kaplan has worked tirelessly with Penn State Hillel’s student leaders to improve and expand Jewish life on campus. Kaplan has applied the Design Thinking methodology while advising Penn State Hillel’s Student Life Committee in their mission to create innovative programming around the Jewish calendar, most recently implementing a new compostable program for weekly Shabbat dinners.
In addition, the Challah for Hunger chapter, which was recently recognized as a top chapter across U.S campuses, has expanded their work to include the greater State College community and the local synagogue, Brit Shalom. This fall, Kaplan will enter her second year in the Springboard Fellows program alongside the returning ‘Aleph’ class and incoming ‘Bet’ class.
“The Springboard Fellowship provides Hillel with an opportunity to foster the next generation of Jewish leaders while also creating a positive impact for current students. Adding a social justice focus was a natural progression, given our students’ interests and the Jewish mandate to pursue justice,” said Mimi Kravetz, chief talent officer of Hillel International. “By positioning these young professionals on campuses across the country, we have the opportunity to reach thousands of students in new and exciting ways.”
Hillel International launched the Springboard Fellowship in 2016 to train cohorts of young Jewish professionals in highly-valued skillsets and place them at local Hillel campuses for two years. The Springboard Fellowship is a reimagining of the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellowship, which Hillel ran from 1994 to 2008 and trained a generation of emerging Jewish communal leaders through their roles in Jewish student engagement.