PeerCorps is a yearlong paid mentorship for Jewish teens and b’nai mitzvah students to build deep relationships with one another and a service site in Metro Detroit. Through mentor relationships, b’nai mitzvah students participate in mitzvah projects, and mentors (tenth- through twelfth-grade students) receive training during a week of living and working together in Detroit. All participants develop self-awareness, critical thinking skills, and a commitment to justice while connecting Jewish values to learning about self and society. Throughout the school year, mentors work with b’nai mitzvah students in grades five through eight who have made a minimum three-and-a-half-month commitment to volunteer every other week at designated service sites in the city. Each b’nai mitzvah student’s experience begins with mentor-led orientation. During service days, mentors and local supervisors oversee the b’nai mitzvah students. Each day concludes with reflection on their experiences and learning.
Some of the core ideas and structure of PeerCorps Detroit can be easily adapted to the congregational setting, especially pairing older teens with younger teens, providing older teens with meaningful and real leadership opportunities, and creating real and long-term relationships with service sites.
Grade levels: 5 – 12
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah), Youth (post B’nai Mitzvah)
Families from participating congregations can enroll in the program as a way of completing their mitzvah project requirement for b’nai mitzvah.
Year Implemented: 2013
In cooperation with Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Joshua Venture Group, and participating synagogues