History

The story that started it all.

How do I create an expression of Jewish life that meets the needs of today’s Jewish population? How do I build and sustain something meaningful? And, how can I most effectively ensure that Jewish tradition remains relevant for years to come?

These are some of the questions that have driven the bold leaders which UpStart supports for the past two decades.

Here’s how it went down: In the early 2000s, individuals with new ideas and initiatives to shape Jewish life were springing up across the country. But there were few, if any, places to turn for the critical resources to move ideas towards reality.

UpStart Bay Area emerged in 2008, connecting West Coast Jewish leaders with the resources, training, and guidance to get their ideas off the ground. Some leaders needed strategic help. Others lacked operational know-how. But each was given the attention, support and skilled expertise they needed to create and scale sustainable, responsive ventures.

As the focus of UpStart Bay Area expanded from entrepreneurs to institutional leaders, we also grew from the Bay Area to Chicago–blazing the way for change across the country. Along the way, we forged partnerships with like-minded organizations doing similar work on the east coast, many of whom would become a core part of the UpStart network in the future.

In 2017, Bikkurim, Joshua Venture Group, the U.S. programs of PresenTense, and UpStart merged into one organization–UpStart. The merger brought together a collective 18 years of experience partnering with the Jewish community’s boldest leaders to make Jewish life thrive.

Our goal was to provide a stronger lab, launch pad, and support system for anyone willing to move the Jewish community forward.

Since their inception, UpStart and its three merging organizations have fueled the impact of over 1,450 initiatives and trained more than 3,200 of the Jewish community’s most inspiring leaders.