Courtesy of Detroit Jews for Justice Facebook.

The program provides training, connections and funding to develop a plan for growth and sustainability. 

Detroit Jews for Justice, a local Metro Detroit social justice organization, was one of eight organizations to be accepted into the UpStart Venture Accelerator, a nationwide Jewish program that enables the success of groundbreaking Jewish ventures. 

Since its founding in 2014 by Congregation T’chiyah in Oak Park, DJJ has helped organize Metro Detroit’s Jewish community to partake in movements for racial and economic justice. Led by Founding Executive Director Rabbi Alana Alpert, DJJ draws from Jewish tradition, thought and culture to enhance their initiatives. 

DJJ’s core focus is currently clean and affordable water issues, but they have also engaged volunteers in contributing to meaningful campaigns for racial and economic justice, housing, voting, immigration rights, transit and more. 

“It’s amazing to have national experts join the ranks of dedicated local volunteers and colleagues who have been rooting for us and helping us grow,” Rabbi Alpert told the Jewish News. “We hope this support will help us meet the demand we’re experiencing. While we obviously don’t do the work to receive accolades, it is so important to feel valued.” 

The UpStart Venture Accelerator, started in 2006, has served as a guide and launch pad for over 90 Jewish organizations nationwide. Each year, they choose a select number of organizations from over 80 applicants.   

In 2017, UpStart merged with the Joshua Venture Group, Bikkurim and PresenTense organizations to collaborate and provide a strong support system to help enhance Jewish life and develop a more inclusive future.  

With the acceptance into the UpStart Venture Accelerator, DJJ will be provided with training, connections and funding to activate a plan for sustained growth and impact. Over the course of 18 months, they will receive hands-on training and will become a part of UpStart’s trailblazing network, a diverse group of entrepreneurs, consultants, advisors, funders and alumni. 

DJJ will also have access to a pool of non-restricted funding, up to $100,000, to use for maximizing their growth and impact. 

“We work in coalition with activists who understand that it’s not enough to feed the poor, but that we have to fight for a living wage — that it’s not enough to donate bottled water if we aren’t organizing for policies to make water clean and accessible,” Rabbi Alpert said. “And we do it all with a deep sense of our Jewishness: learning, singing, and celebrating Judaism all along the way.”