Creating A Vibrant City
NEXTGen Detroit is bringing young Jewish Detroiters together.
It’s been a phenomenal time for NEXTGen Detroit, a division of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, according to director Miryam Rosenzweig. In the last two years, the department has engaged nearly 5,000 young Jewish Detroiters, a 400 percent increase over 2010, as well as doubled its donor base from 1004 in 2010 to 2,300 in 2012.
“Our successful model is based on engaging and micro-targeting our members with programs relevent to them,” Rosenzweig says.
NEXTGen Detroit is focused on engaging young Jews here at home as well as connecting with former Detroiters now living in other communities with the hopes of bringing them back home.
“A growing number of expats have chosen to move back to Detroit after attending one of our annual events,” says president-elect of NEXTGen Detroit, Rachel Wright, who adds that she knows of people who moved to Detroit after Tribe Fest who weren’t originally from around here. “Our efforts have been getting national attention, and that has resulted in many people moving back home.”
Some of those annual events include Latke Vodka, which drew close to 1,000 people this year; Pitch for Detroit, an annual softball tournament and fund-raiser, which this year will provide social action micro-grants to those working to make Detroit a better place; and the EPIC event, the yearly fundraiser that will be held this year on March 9.
Much of the success can be credited to a new model for building community within the 21 to 45-year old age group, which micro-targets specific age groups within that range. “We know there is a big difference between a single 20 year old and a married 35 year old with kids,” Rosenzweig says, “and our programming reflects that.”
CommunityNEXT is the division within NEXTGen Detroit that targets the younger demographic with events like EPIC and Pitch for Detroit and programs like summer internships and Summer Term, a program for new grads that provides an opportunity for younger adults to make a difference in the city. “Our goal is to get people from feeling like individual Jews who happen to live in Detroit to feeling like members of the Detroit Jewish community,” says Marty Madden, NEXTGen Detroit president.
Other departments of NEXTGen Detroit include Experience Israel, which helps connect young Jewish students and professionals to the Jewish homeland; Annual Campaign, bringing Federation’s mission and relevance to this age group at events like Latke Vodka; Leadership Development, providing opportunities to build the next generation of Jewish communal leadership; and the NEXTGen hub, which is being built right now to focus on programming to engage the 30- to 45- year-old crowd, such as a planned young Jewish business conference with Hebrew Free Loan.
The goal, says Maddin, is to make Detroit a vibrant and meaningful home for young Jews of every age, “a place where meaning can be found in every facet of life, from professional to social, religious to cultural and more.”