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The Challah for Hunger Alumni Giving Circle: Philanthropy beyond the college campus

"Double the 'c', double the 's', and you will always have 'success.'"

My first grade teacher taught me this saying. This mnemonic device stuck with me because it was catchy, simple, and made sense.  As I've grown, it's inspired me to think of creative strategies using resources to help others.  This is precisely what drew me to Challah for Hunger.

Challah for Hunger exemplifies the "see a need, fill a need" mantra.  It relies on creativity and engagement, using a simple concept to make an amazing impact. I’ve been involved with Challah for Hunger since 2009.  As a chapter coordinator at Binghamton University, international Education and Advocacy Committee Chair, and now, as a "Big Apple" Chapter Advisor NYC, serving as an educator adds depth, not bread-th (it wouldn’t be an article on Challah for Hunger without at least one pun!), to the organization.

The Challah for Hunger alumni network aligns with every value on which Challah for Hunger stands: community building, philanthropy, and volunteerism. Without the confines of day-to-day chapter management, the alumni network seeks to engage chapter alumni and keep them invested in similar processes. My two years as an alum have deepened my experience. In reverence to that, when Carly Zimmerman, CEO of Challah for Hunger, asks you to get more involved, you enthusiastically say ‘yes’ – and in the case, the ‘yes’ was to joining the Alumni Giving Circle.

The Challah for Hunger Alumni Giving Circle provided a space for continued engagement in philanthropy and advocacy. Just like the chapter experience, the alumni giving circle was all about seizing great opportunities (in our case, right time and great group of really motivated, interested people) and making it happen. 

Earlier this summer, a group of six alumni got together to participate in an introductory level of philanthropic giving. Supported by Amplifier: The Jewish Giving Circle Movement, our giving circle sought to make an impact by awarding grants to two non-profits fighting hunger in local communities. Throughout the four-month process, we solicited nominations from Challah for Hunger alumni around the world, developed a rubric and language for evaluating their impact and conducted interviews to learn how they might use additional funding.

I was amazed at the high caliber of nominations, and the intention and attention with which our team approached the process. It is incredibly empowering to hear someone talk about people and places of which they deeply care. I left each conversation proud of their success and inspired to share my successes, financially and otherwise. Throughout the process, we each contributed greatly, monetarily and in time and consideration. In the end, we took about 4 months to process, and gave away $20,000, split between two phenomenal organizations: Neighbors Together and Food Forward. 

This experience has definitely informed my own giving, and I know that I am going to continue to engage in philanthropy both through Challah for Hunger and in other capacities. By participating in the Alumni Giving Circle, my passion and dedication to Challah for Hunger was reaffirmed and I am proud that Challah for Hunger, both on campuses and beyond, is designed to create a generation of engaged, purposeful people who in many ways -- find their success.

About the author: Amanda Winer just began graduate work in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU Steinhardt, having spent the last two years as an Education Fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson MS.  She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she served as the Organization Coordinator of Challah for Hunger, President of the Class of 2012, and a Faculty-Student Scholar. Amanda is a Bay State native, who loves the Red Sox, her wheaten terrier Farfel, and raspberry brie challah.


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