The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network (SPN) has launched #MakeItHappen, a new micro-grants initiative that invites individuals to submit ideas for creating Jewish experiences in their communities. Between October and December 2013, SPN will select up to 50 ideas from around the world to receive micro grants of up to $1,000. Five ideas could receive up to $5,000.

#MakeItHappen is an opportunity for young Jews to seed, grow and act on new ideas—from hackathons to meet-ups, Shabbat dinners to service projects—that showcase the talent and creativity taking root in Jewish communities all over the world. The submission deadline is December 6, 2013. Ideas will be selected on a rolling basis.

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“#MakeItHappen is designed to empower young people to take that initial or next step on a leadership journey,” said Lynn Schusterman, Chair of the Schusterman Philanthropic Network. “For many young Jews, these small grants embody a ‘first yes’ and a realization that the Jewish community values and is willing to invest in what they have to contribute to ensuring a vibrant Jewish future.”

Among the first to submit an idea during the campaign’s initial launch was entrepreneur Adam Braun, who founded Pencils of Promise, his award-winning nonprofit organization, with just $25. “#MakeItHappen is a great concept,” said Braun. “Much like Pencils of Promise, it is built on a core belief that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when given the opportunity. I’ve personally witnessed the power of small investments to create catalytic change, and the #MakeItHappen model has enormous potential to help people benefit their own communities and beyond.”

Micro grants and other small-dollar investment models have taken root in recent years as a way to empower people to explore new experiences, gain valuable skills and even launch small businesses. SPN has successfully piloted micro grants through its ROI Community and REALITY program, as well as in select communities like Cape Town, South Africa, and St. Petersburg, Russia. These micro grants compliment SPN’s larger-scale models of investment in programs and organizations and provide an additional way to invest directly in building the leadership capacities of young Jews.

#MakeItHappen marks the first time SPN has created a pool of micro grants that is open to the general public, inviting anyone 18 years of age and up to submit ideas. The online application process can be completed in 10 minutes.

Eligible ideas will be posted on the #MakeItHappen website where viewers can search by topic and location, “Like” their favorites and even contact the creators directly to volunteer to help make their favorite ideas happen. Terms and Restrictions apply <http://makeithappen.schusterman.org/terms> .

“#MakeItHappen is exactly the type of opportunity that animates the Moishe House network,” said David Cygielman, CEO of Moishe House, which has 57 houses in 14 countries that engage more than 65,000 attendees annually. “It speaks to the entrepreneurial and do-it-yourself nature of the young adult Jewish population we serve and offers the chance to get creative with the real possibility of being able to put ideas into action.”

For 25 years, SPN has supported and created innovative programs and initiatives to deepen the Jewish identities and leadership capacities of young Jews. #MakeItHappen reflects SPN’s commitment to experimenting with new approaches and technologies to achieve its vision of a diverse, dynamic Jewish future that is deeply connected to Israel and committed to making the world a better place.

“We at Schusterman have long believed that while investments and support make change possible, people make change happen,” said Sandy Cardin, President of the Schusterman Philanthropic Network. “It has been a guiding philosophy of our work for 25 years. This campaign will enable us to invest in more young Jews, seed great new ideas, explore how our micro-grants strategy can be replicated online and ultimately show how small investments can lead to big change.”

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