Changing the Game: The Power of Teens in Greater Washington

Saving lives by collecting bras to raise awareness and funds for BRCA gene mutation testing. Connecting young hospital patients with Shabbat celebrations. Teaching young children about Judaism through art. What do game-changing ideas like these have in common? They’ve been developed by some of the youngest leaders in Greater Washington, and thanks to Impact L’Atid, sponsored and run by BBYO and The Jewish Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund (UJEF), their teenage founders are harnessing these innovative ideas into positive change for our whole community.

Now in its second year, 20+ teens participated directly in the Impact L’Atid program, along with hundreds more engaged in seminars and activities related to turning ideas into change.

Teens applied to Impact L’Atid individually or in pairs with ideas for their projects that will impact the lives of others in the Greater Washington Jewish community. Nine participants, or “Gamechangers,” were paired with mentors (Jewish young adults working in marketing and entrepreneurship) to develop their project ideas, build business plans and begin product testing and marketing over the course of six months. In addition to regularly meeting with their mentors, teens participated in seminars on project development, community mapping, marketing and budgeting, run by both BBYO professionals and UpStart.

Beyond programming for Impact L’Atid Gamechangers, BBYO and Federation’s UJEF hosted larger programs for local teens, such as Day of Impact at BBYO’s Regional Convention in January, where more than 500 teens were inspired by social entrepreneurs from around the country. They also participated in advocacy and service activities on-site with more than 15 organizations from the Greater Washington community, on topics ranging from mental health awareness to homelessness.

This year, Impact L’Atid culminated at the Innovation Showcase on March 19, where Gamechangers gave their final business pitch to the community. Gamechangers set up booths to pitch attendees about their projects and gave a 90-second pitch to the crowd. Audience members then voted on two questions: which venture they were most excited by and which could have the biggest impact on the Greater Washington community?

At the end of the night, $10,000 in scholarships were awarded to three Gamechanger projects. In first place was Daniel Morgan (junior at Charles E. Smith Day School) for his venture Bras 4 BRCA, which collects bras to raise awareness and funds for BRCA gene mutation testing.

Second place went to Sydney Rodman and Rachel Gluck (sophomores at the Bullis School) for their venture Shabbat Supporters, a program to connect Jewish children and adolescents with their peers to celebrate the Sabbath while in the hospital.

Jasper Bernstein and Austin Vinner (eighth-graders at Cabin John Middle School) won third place for Amanut, an art subscription box service to teach young children and families about Judaism through art.

The Jewish Federation and Federation’s UJEF are proud to support teen leadership and innovation in our community with partners like BBYO and through programs like Impact L’Atid. Learn more about all of our community’s Jewish teen programming at or by contacting Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath at [email protected].