In mid-December, the Jews of Color Initiative announced that our New York Hub is launching an “Incubator” for project leaders in, or with an audience in, New York City. We sat down with Riki Robinson, Program Director of the New York Hub, to understand more about the Incubator, its potential impact on participants, and how to know which projects and project leaders are best suited for it.
What’s the Incubator and how do you know if your project is ready?
We’ve developed the Incubator program in partnership with UpStart, which has had a lot of success with similar programs. The Incubator will support emerging and existing leaders who have projects focused on Jews of Color and the multiracial Jewish community in the NYC area. The Incubator will help grow these projects to their next stage. For example, we’re not asking someone with an idea for a project to scale it into a fully-fledged nonprofit, but we might ask them to hone their mission and vision statement or think about the longevity of their projects, such as planning 12 months out instead of three months. The Incubator will meet each person where they’re at and help them further develop their projects from there.
What is most exciting about the Incubator?
The program is structured but also highly customizable. We’ll have individualized coaching specific to the needs of each leader to really support them, with 90 minutes of meeting time a month to divide up as you choose. Participants will also have synchronous learning modules developed by UpStart, which knows how to scale nonprofit ventures and projects, and will engage in that learning at their own pace. That will be very beneficial because the program intentionally has folks who are at very different stages. We may have someone who already has full-time staff, and we may have other folks who are fully volunteer. Given those differences in project development, it’s important that the learning is tailored specifically to what each person is hoping to get out of it.
We have also added in a $2,500 stipend for each Project leader (up to two per project) for participating in the Incubator. We want this program to be economically accessible and are really excited to offer this as a component of the program. This stipend is in addition to an opportunity to receive $3000 towards your project.
Another great thing about this opportunity is that participants will be in a cohort. We’ve heard from the field—from our grantees and prospective grantees and from the findings of Beyond the Count—those folks want to increase their capacity in holding JoC spaces both in the emotional, personal way, but also in terms of logistics, programmatic skills, and professional experience. Having a cohort of JoC leaders really distinguishes this program. We focus on what it means to cohort together as Jews of Color and fostering a peer-support network with intentionality. Many JoC leaders experience similar pressure points as leaders in the community and it’s important to have a structured space to hold those hopes and those tensions.
What do you hope will be the impact of the Incubator?
We know that community-building and network-weaving is very powerful for participants when it’s in an intimate cohort. Especially during the pandemic, people see that they can connect nationally with large groups on a virtual level, but they’re craving smaller-scale connection. The Incubator can hopefully be the start of peer-support networks and project development that extend beyond the length of the program, strengthening the JoC community and the richness of JoC programming in New York.
What would you say to someone who isn’t sure if they should apply?
Still apply! We’re excited to see people who are working on projects at any stage. And if you happen to not be a fit for the Incubator, you might be a fit for a different program of ours. Consider if you feel hesitant because of project readiness or maybe because of some personal blockages that many Jews of Color, especially women and femmes, experience. We often feel imposter syndrome or feel like we have to tick every box to apply for something. But we really encourage you to put yourself out there. If you think you aren’t ready to lead, you probably are ready! If you think your project isn’t ready, just ask us!