Shaping Leaders, Strengthening Communities: A Quantitative Dive into J Leaders Academy’s Impact
By Denise Sandel, 2022-23 J Leaders Academy Fellow and Leya Aronoff, 2022-23 J Leaders Academy Fellow and Digital Marketing Strategist for J Leaders
At J Leaders, we seek to empower and engage Jewish young adults through leadership development and community-building. One of the major ways we go about fulfilling our mission is through our flagship program — the J Leaders Academy — a 6-month blended learning program that features experienced Jewish leaders and hands-on learning for Jewish young adults.
While that all sounds nice, are we actually living up to our mission?
As a statistics professor, it was important to me (Denise) that we have numbers and data to back up this lofty goal of ours. To that end, I recently polled our Academy alumni to see just how impactful their experience was.
In this blog, I dive into a recent impact assessment that I conducted with that very goal in mind. Let’s dive into the findings!
How We Measure Impact
It’s one thing to say our program is impactful. It’s a whole other endeavor to quantify impact!
For J Leaders, impact can happen on several levels.
First, we measured different types of impacts the Academy could have. We measured:
- Jewish identity – Did our J Leaders Academy fellows’ Jewish identity strengthen as a result of the program?
- Professional life – Did our J Leaders Academy fellows’ careers, work, jobs, or leadership skills improve as a result of the program?
- Community leadership – Did our J Leaders Academy fellows take on a formal or informal role in your Jewish community after the program?
- Alumni engagement – Did our J Leaders Academy fellows become more active in our J Leaders community?
Second, we measured impact on using different time horizons. We polled fellows who recently graduated from the Academy as well as alumni who graduated 1-2 years ago. After all, what’s a better way to measure impact than going directly to the source and asking alumni themselves, right?
So let’s see just how impactful the J Leaders Academy is!
Impact of the J Leaders Academy – Results from Recent Graduates
Let’s begin with results after immediately graduating from the Academy:
- Jewish identity – 60% of the fellows indicated that their own knowledge of their Jewish values and identity increased.
- Professional life – Leadership skills in areas like emotional intelligence, effective communication, and creating healthy teams increased by 65% or more.
- Alumni engagement – 74% of Academy fellows expressed interest in remaining a part of the J Leaders community after graduation, participating in our activities, or being a volunteer for J Leaders.
What do these numbers mean?
After finishing the Academy, the hype is high, and the impact numbers reflect this feeling. These results show that the Academy’s intended impact on our fellows was fulfilled.
Impact After the Academy – Results from Long-Term Alumni
Impact over time is as important as the immediate impact because our goal is that our fellows’ experiences in the J Leaders Academy will stick with you for the rest of your career and life.
We contacted J Leaders Academy alumni 1 and 2 years after their program year.
Let’s find out if the J Leaders Academy flame is still strong among our alumni.
- Overall, 77% of alumni still feel their experience of the Academy had a great impact in their lives.
- Professional life – Over 61% of the alumni were able to apply their new leadership knowledge and over 56% had better job opportunities because of their new knowledge acquired in the academy.
- Community leadership – 50% of alumni took on a leadership role within their local Jewish communities.
- Alumni engagement – 67% of our alumni are more involved in their local Jewish communities than before joining the J Leaders Academy.
These numbers show that the J Leaders Academy not only has a great impact among alumni, but also, the experience of the Academy helped them in their Jewish life, professional life, and Jewish community engagement months after their Academy experience.
Our Academy alumni continue to stay involved in J Leaders in several capacities, including discussions with experienced Jewish leaders, community Shabbat dinners, 1:1 mentorship, Innovation mini grants to help alumni launch new ideas, and joining National Council – J Leaders’ young adult board that works all year round to make J Leaders grow.
Conclusion – The Impact of J Leaders Beyond the Academy
J Leaders is not just a one-time experience. We have our own Alumni community that remains strong and keeps growing. After three cohorts, our Academy alumni are reaping the benefits of their Academy experience both just after graduation and several months later. In addition, their involvement in the Jewish community grows after the academy and remains strong over the years..
Without a doubt, J Leaders is uniquely positioned to engage young adults into the Jewish community and into leadership roles. Jewish young adults are getting tremendous value from our programs, both from the Academy and beyond.
You can be a part of this movement to empower and engage Jewish young adults through leadership development and community-building. You can read the original J Leaders Impact Report here.
Here’s some ways you can get involved.