Sparking the Future with 4Front

March 30, 2017

Sparking the Future with 4Front

4FrontParents are you looking for a change of “screenery” for your teens? Introduce your ambitious, budding young adults to 4Front, the Baltimore Jewish community’s most comprehensive teen initiative to date.  4Front lies at the forefront of progress and change, encouraging collaboration, education, innovation, and advocacy among Jewish teens.

Featuring a signature Social Innovation Fellowship, leadership programs, and social opportunities, 4Front encourages teens to explore their Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them.

Directed by the Jewish Community Center of Baltimore, 4Front is supported by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Associated received a five-year matching grant of $1.525 million from the Jim Joseph Foundation in 2015 to launch the initiative. The initiative is targeted to increase Jewish teen engagement in Baltimore. Currently, only about 10-25 percent of Jewish teens nationally participate in Jewish programming, says Rabbi Dena Shaffer, 4Front’s executive director.

At the centerpiece of 4Front is a new Social Innovation Fellowship which will empower teens to tackle community issues through social entrepreneurship. Working with Startup Experience, an organization located on the West Coast, teens will learn about innovation and entrepreneurship, then team up and channel their knowledge to bring real change to their community, school, or the planet.

The name 4Front derives from its four pillars: collaboration, education, innovation, and advocacy. It is on the cutting edge, the “forefront” of teen education and engagement.

Teen participants will get up close and personal with hands on field trips to local innovation hubs, such as Open Works or Baltimore Impact Hub, as well as meet and learn from mentors. They also will travel to Israel during winter break, meeting their high school counterparts in Ashkelon, Israel and Odessa, Ukraine, Baltimore’s sister cities, as part of our global partnership.

Jewish values, history and contemporary thought will be incorporated into the nine-month experience.  “We’ll delve deep into Jewish content and provide a grounding in Jewish values, beyond tikkun olam,” says Shaffer. “For example, we might look at how Abraham was one of the first Jewish innovators … we’ll explore Israel through its start-up nation story.”

4Front also has become the home of several existing teen leadership programs including: STAC (Students Taking Action for Change), TGI (Teen Giving Initiative), Diller Teen Fellows and the Teen Service Council. Previously managed by Jewish Volunteer Connection, these leadership programs have joined the 4Front constellation of teen programming.

As part of its mission, 4Front will offer a concierge service to match teens’ interests to the wealth of existing programs, such as BBYO, NFTY, USY, or NCSY. In addition, it will collaborate with many local and national organizations to provide rich and creative programming.

To ensure a holistic approach to teen engagement, 4Front will include training and education for professionals working with teens and for lay leaders as well. For details visit

What do you want your teen to accomplish before college? Here’s an opportunity for your child to prepare for college, get involved, and connect with peers:  collaborating – working together; innovating – creating something new; educating – themselves and the world; advocating – on the community’s behalf, for change.

Parents and teens — join the charge.  Spark the future.  Be — at the 4Front.  Learn more at

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