The Samuel L. Goldston Teen Engagement Project, hosted by The Second Floor at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, is gearing up for its 18th year of Jewish youth philanthropy. Rebecca Kahn, Director of Teen Leadership, shared with us some of the differences to the program this year. These changes were influenced by her attending our recent Honeycomb Facilitator Training. The potential for greater reach is evident.

The Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh (where the JCC is located) is all too familiar with what a community needs after harrowing incidents of anti-Semitism. The community was well equipped to jump in following the attacks in Israel on October 7, 2023. Rebecca quickly organized a Teen Engagement “pop-up” session to discuss the needs of their community, engage in conversations with others from the community, and begin the change-making process. “Every teen who attended our pop-up in October is now a registered participant in our youth philanthropy initiative.” These teens came out to support their friends, but what they found together was more than friendship.

Beginning in January the teens – from 7th through 9th grade – will immerse themselves in the philanthropic process. Keeping the organizations that they will fund local is important to the program. Pittsburgh boasts the longest continuous Jewish community living in a city center in the United States outside New York City, and their pride and care of the community runs deep. “We have siblings of previous participants, families have had parents, and then children be involved in this community… the youth philanthropy program allows for the next generation to be a part of the history of this amazing place” shared Rebecca.

The experiential learning, which happens naturally in centers like The Second Floor, is enhanced by the Honeycomb grantmaking curriculum, Changemakers: A Journey Through Jewish Teen Philanthropy. The teens are bringing their own personal understandings and values to these programs with these goals in mind; “to have them [the teens] come away with a positive relationship with Jewish text, how it relates to their lives today, and to have a vested interest in giving back in whatever form fits the individual.”

With such a deep-rooted desire to give back to the community, and an overwhelming sense of belonging, The Samuel M. Goldston Teen Engagement Project has both a storied history and a bright future in the hands of their youth.


The Samuel L. Goldston Teen Engagement, which is a program of The Second Floor at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, is generously funded by Edward and Linda Goldston (z’l) in memory of their son, Samuel.



Written by

Matt Bergman

Communications and Engagement Manager