Jumpstart at the White House

Jumpstart Co-founder Shawn Landres speaks to White House gathering
of faith-based social entrepreneurs

Jumpstart presented a Jewish perspective on social entrepreneurship at the July 11th White House Faith-Based Social Innovators Conference. The afternoon’s discussions offered new insights about the important role that faith-based social innovators play in expanding opportunity and addressing social issues.

Senior White House directors Jonathan Greenblatt of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and Joshua Dubois of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships convened the gathering of more than 100 leaders from a diversity of faiths and organizations.

Jumpstart at the White House: Emily Leventhal, Shawn Landres, Jonathan Greenblatt, Joshua DuBois, Joshua Avedon, Paul Vandeventer
Emily Leventhal, Shawn Landres, Jonathan Greenblatt (White House), Joshua DuBois (White House), Joshua Avedon, & Paul Vandeventer (Community Partners)

Shawn was one of only nine featured “spotlight innovators” chosen to address the entire conference because they and their organizations “are finding innovative ways to make a positive impact on our society and economy.” His remarks were about Jumpstart’s work, and about bridging the gap between faith-based and secular social entrepreneurship.
“Faith-based need not mean faith-bound,” Shawn reminded the room. “And secular social enterprise need not isolate itself from faith-born creativity.”

Jumpstart was represented by Shawn and Co-founder Joshua Avedon, as well as board members Emily Leventhal and Rachel Cohen Gerrol (who just started her term as Chair this month). We were joined by Paul Vandeventer of Community Partners, with which we operate the Project Partnership, a joint venture to fiscally sponsor emerging Jewish and interreligious organizations. Also present was Perry Oretzky, President of the Angell Foundation.

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Shawn Landres’s White House remarks

Video and excerpts from Shawn Landres's remarks from the White House Faith-Based Social Innovators Conference – July 11, 2012

I am here because my personal and professional journeys as a human being and as a citizen are profoundly shaped by faith and covenant. Judaism stands for dignity, opportunity, freedom, and responsibility. It calls us to work for the healing of the wider world. The remarkable mosaic in this room attests that our values and visions are not unique but shared by many.

Shawn Landres speaking at the White House
L-R: Salman Ravala (Dollar-a-Day Scholarship Fund), Heather Larson (Willow Creek Community Church), Shawn Landres, Sajan George (Matchbook Learning)

…For generations, the Jewish communal sector has been at the forefront of social innovation benefiting all Americans. … Over the past 15 years, however, an important shift has occurred. The primary engine for innovation no longer is found in centralized communal institutions working to meet collective Jewish needs. Today, that energy has shifted outward to independent grassroots initiatives, many of which seek to express Jewish values through service, education, and social & civic advocacy. Put another way, if 20th century institutions ensured that Jewish Americans are seen and served as equal citizens, then 21st-century innovators are demonstrating Judaism’s unique value propositions and contributions to our nation’s open, diverse, democratic society.

…None of our impact is attributable to ourselves alone. All of Jumpstart’s work is collaborative, with partners and networks that complement our strengths and extend our reach. Indeed, Jewish tradition obliges us to work for change that is beyond any one of us to achieve independently.

One of those innovative partnerships is with Community Partners, a nationally recognized fiscal sponsor, grantmaking intermediary, and civic catalyst. …[Our] Project Partnership connects faith-based and community organizations in ways that reflect the strength of each without duplication or encroachment.

That’s because faith-based need not mean faith-bound. And secular social enterprise need not isolate itself from faith-born creativity.

…Stephen Carter once observed that religion in the public square sometimes stops conversations when it should start them. But our values can and should help shape the common good. But our values can and should help shape the common good. Jumpstart’s leave policy supports natural and adoptive parents. It honors both the bereaved and those who care for mourners. Jumpstart’s non-discrimination policy includes all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. All for Jewish reasons.

…Today’s Summit is welcome recognition that there now are more creative, passionate, authentic, and compelling ways to connect faith & community to action in the world than at any other time in recent history. We merit recognition and respect, not only to be heard but also to have a say.

Together we can harness and sustain their energy to power the transformation of our communities, our nation, and our planet. If the momentum in this room is any indicator, we have an extraordinary future ahead.

Full coverage of Jumpstart’s White House appearance, including video of Shawn’s complete remarks….