The local chapter of FAN is one of several such networks being established in 35 communities across North America, FAN will serve as advocates for BBYO while engaging in social, professional development and philanthropic activities.
The network is designed to enable alumni of AZA and BBG, as well as parents and friends of the organization to ensure that BBYO and Jewish teen life in their community are strong.
“We still have a staff; we still have our program for teens,” said Adam Tennen, BBYO’s area executive director, who supervises staff in several BBYO regions in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. “This complements the program and assists the program for the teens. This supports the existing program, not only financially, but helps grow the program.” Also, “they (the alumni) advocate for the program in the community.”
There are currently 180 teenagers in Keystone Mountain Region, which covers southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and another 40 who are “engaged” with KMR in some manner, Tennen said. The vast majority of the teenagers come from the Pittsburgh area, he added.
The development of FAN came as a response to the decision by B’nai B’rith International in 2008 to cease funding BBYO. The individual chapters began coming online last year.
“Now we’re in a situation where we don’t have that ongoing kind of support [from B’nai B’rith], so we’re looking to the communities by building a network of alumni and friends. We started looking at different models to raise more money.”
Indeed, one of the first tasks of the Pittsburgh FAN network is to launch a fundraising effort. The goal is to sign up 180 donors, each giving $180. All of the contributions will stay in the Pittsburgh area supporting Keystone- Mountain activities.
“We’re trying to bring parents, alumni and supporters into an organized structure that would in effect become the lay leaders for the region. It’s not a board, it’s a network of alumni and parents — people who care about BBYO.
The Jan. 23 kick-off event will bring together alumni, parents and community leaders to hear ideas and strategize how to strengthen BBYO in the community.
“We believe that parents and alumni play a critical role in the success of the region” Sheryl Cohen, Pittsburgh FAN chair, said in a prepared statement. “We ask you to serve as advocates for BBYO’s efforts to ensure that Jewish teen life in our community remains strong.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)