A core mission of Applebaum Family Philanthropy (AFP) is to provide unique and invaluable opportunities to inspire and promote leadership. Through our partnership with Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM), Applebaum Family Philanthropy continues to be amazed by the motivation and undeterred commitment of student leaders on campuses throughout the state of Michigan. In the face of a two-year pandemic, these student leaders have continued to thrive, building Jewish community and strengthening Jewish identity. Ultimately, the “invaluable opportunity” is not what AFP provided HCAM and the students. Rather, it is the students who have inspired and taught us; that a promising Jewish future is in very good hands.
Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM) was created in 2006 to provide Jewish engagement opportunities for students on Michigan college campuses with small numbers of Jewish enrollment, where there is little organized Jewish student activity. Regardless of the size of the institution or number of Jewish students enrolled, HCAM’s mission is the same for all students; provide access to Jewish programming & experiences.
Today, HCAM is a statewide network of ten Jewish campuses serving more than a thousand students at Albion College, Alma College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan, Saginaw Valley State and Western Michigan. More than 40 student leaders are strengthening Jewish life for students across these campuses, creating more than 150 events & programs over the course of each school year.
Our Partnership: Aligned principles & values
“When you are a leader, you are making people follow in your footsteps, and doing what is right for the community and what is right for our people.” –Gene Applebaum
Following Eugene Applebaum’s guiding example to foster future leadership, Applebaum Family Philanthropy has partnered with HCAM to create the Applebaum Fellows Program. The program is made up of two groups: Presidents and Engagement Interns. These students partake in internship, mentorship, and professional development training to better empower them to engage hundreds of other students on HCAM campuses each school year. Each Applebaum Fellow student receives an annual stipend which better enables them to focus on their responsibilities, including individual student outreach and special events planning, with the seriousness with which they would approach a job.
In addition to the Fellows Program, through our aim to provide community connectivity and opportunity, we created the Applebaum Statewide Leadership Initiative which includes a series of experiential leadership development retreats designed to engage and empower students throughout the academic year. Since the retreats began in 2017, we have hosted nearly 450 student leaders throughout the school year. Programming includes Jewish & Israel education, communications skills building, organizational structure, executive board training and community engagement. Each of these partnership pillars, including the Applebaum Fellows engagement internship and the Statewide Leadership Initiative gives the students an opportunity to learn and engage with students from around the state.
“We are so proud to partner with Applebaum Family Philanthropy to offer this amazing opportunity to our students statewide. Participants not only learn vital leadership skills that allow them to stay connected to their Jewish culture during their college years, but also take the skills learned through the program and bring them back to our local community in Detroit post-graduation. Many of our Applebaum alumni have returned home and become involved members in our Jewish community in both volunteering and professional capacities. The lessons they learned as Applebaum Fellows stayed with them, benefiting themselves and the entire Jewish community.” –Cindy Hughey, Executive Director, Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan
Students: Leading community development
Our Applebaum Presidents & Engagement Interns put their leadership training into practice on their own campuses daily. Through their cohort experience and retreats, they are able to regularly connect with fellow cohorts of Engagement Interns and Hillel Presidents from other campuses; they look to each other to provide support, help each other problem solve, share new event ideas and further develop community engagement.
“From my time as a freshman, to now being a senior, I’ve grown as a leader and a person because of the Applebaum Fellowship. Without this fellowship, I would never have made the connection that I made with the Applebaum Engagement Fellows my freshmen year, which led to my involvement with Hillel. Now being a Fellow myself, I’m able to return the favor to incoming freshmen, helping to connect more Jewish students to Hillel.” –Noah Meyerson, Hillel at GVSU Applebaum Engagement Fellow Class of 2022
“I love being able to coordinate with Presidents from different campuses that I otherwise likely would not have ever met or had relationships with. Each time we meet I get to learn something about them personally, but I also get to see how they handle daily challenges that we all face. Throughout the pandemic, HCAM has allowed to remain part of [that] broader community.” –McKenna Schilling, Hillel at Kalamazoo College, Applebaum President Class of 2022
In light of the pandemic, HCAM remained dedicated to providing tailored support for students. HCAM adapted and strengthened its engagement programs in order to continue leadership training and individual student outreach. Because of this, the Applebaum Fellows were able to create special virtual holiday celebrations and deliver customized student outreach in adaptable COVID-safe environments. Without HCAM’s dedication, two years of students would have missed the opportunity for connectivity and to participate in seminal experiences that are so vital in forging Jewish identity and development.
“The HCAM Applebaum Fellows program was designed to offer more than just leadership development training, it was created to foster connectivity. These students have capitalized on their experiences and leveraged their cohort network to build stronger communities and inspire future students to do the same.” –Pamela Applebaum
AFP is so proud to partner with HCAM. The student leaders and their passion are a catalyst for community building; proving greater inspiration than anything we imagined providing them. We thank them for teaching us and look forward to the impact they will continue to make well into the future.