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Teen Philanthropy: How you or teens you know can make a difference!

Think you need to be an adult to be a philanthropist? Think again! Jewish teens are making a difference here in Minneapolis and around the world right now through the Genesis Mitzvah Fund Program. 

What is the Genesis Mitzvah Fund Program?

Established nearly 15 years ago through the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, this innovative program teaches youth about philanthropy by empowering them to make important charitable decisions while helping others.

What is a Genesis Mitzvah Fund?
Through the program, funds called Genesis Mitzvah Funds are typically established through contributions made in honor of the young person becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. However, funds may be established at any time.

Once the fund balance reaches $1,000 the fund will begin to accrue interest. Then the fundholder can begin to make annual distributions from the investment income to charitable organizations that are important to him or her.


How is a fund established?
A fund can be set up in a number of ways:

  • Family members can set up the fund with an initial gift.
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah guests are invited to make a direct contribution to the fund. (See sample invitation insert at right.)
  • The young person can set up the fund after his/her Bar or Bat Mitzvah from gifts received.

Additional contributions may be made any time as gifts to honor birthdays, confirmation, graduation or other special accomplishments. Donations may also be made to the fund as a tribute to other special people or events.

Sample language for invitation insert

In celebration of my Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the ________ Genesis Mitzvah Fund has been established at the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. I would be honored if you would make a donation to this fund. Each year, when I distribute income earned from this fund to worthy causes, I will be reminded of the mitzvot of tzedakah and tikkun olam.    Thank you.


Annie Blumfield Roth, daughter of Randi Roth and Michael Blumfield, had her Bat Mitzvah in December.  Looking for ways to make a difference with money she received as gifts, she discovered the UJFC’s Gesher l’Kesher program for teen philanthropy and decided to start a fund. 

"I thought that having a Gesher L'Kesher Fund at UJFC would be a cool way to be able to donate more than without the fund,” Annie said.  “This way I can donate to whatever charity is most meaningful to me that year.  Now I'll be able to donate for the rest of my life.”

Through the program, teens can set up their own endowments at the UJFC with a minimum of $500.  Each year, they select a charity to donate to from their fund.  A number of kids have taken advantage of this opportunity in conjunction with their Bar or Bat Mitzvah and the program is taking off.

For more information about Gesher l’Kesher, contact Laura Savin at 651-695-3183 or