Empower Fellowship Overview and FAQ for Placements

*Sign up to learn more at our April 2 Info Call at 12:30PM EST here!*


In partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies, JOIN is thrilled to announce the Empower Fellowship, launching in the 2019-2020 Jewish Organizing Fellowship year. This opportunity is a new track within the Jewish Organizing Fellowship for Jews who self-identify as people with disabilities, disabled, or differently-abled, and their employers. Empower Fellows will be part of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship, engaging in all of the training, community, and mentorship that come with being a Jewish Organizing Fellow. They will also participate in additional trainings to support their leadership as Jewish organizers with disabilities. We expect that Empower Fellows’ placements may include organizations both within and beyond the disability community, depending on their skills and interests and the opportunities available.

The Empower Fellowship is part of JOIN’s commitment to support the leadership of Jews with marginalized identities, in recognition that systemic oppression keeps many of these individuals on the margins in Jewish communities and social justice movements. We know that our organizations and movements can only succeed if we build movements where everyone can thrive and contribute, and if we fight for liberation for all people. We look forward to partnering with placement organizations in this exciting new initiative.

Click here for more information about Empower from the Fellow perspective.


What are the benefits to placement organizations of hiring an Empower Fellow?

  • Training and coaching about best practices for employing people with disabilities. Empower placement supervisors (and potentially other staff) will participate in 1-2 trainings and ongoing individual consulting as needed to learn about accessibility and inclusion, reasonable accommodations, and disability justice. This training will both help you have a positive experience working with your Fellow, including addressing any challenges that may arise, and deepen your capacity to employ people with disabilities long-term.
  • Access to talented, highly-qualified candidates who might otherwise face barriers to an organizing career.
  • Additional training and mentorship for your Fellow, beyond the rigorous curriculum available to all Jewish Organizing Fellows. For example, Empower Fellows will explore individual adaptations to organizing practices based on their accessibility needs and strengths, and explore lessons from disability movement history that can be applied to their work at their placements. Fellows will also develop a rich understanding of inclusion and disability justice that can strengthen their work at any placement.
  • In addition to all of the free training and individual support, JOIN will provide funding to support each Empower placement in hiring their Fellow and providing any needed accommodations. Each placement will receive at least $5,000, with the possibility of funding up to $20,000 based on organizational need. (As with all Jewish Organizing Fellows, employers must pay their Fellows a salary of at least $31,000, and benefits including healthcare, for a full-time position, or potentially less for a part-time position.)

What are the eligibility criteria for Empower placements?

To become an Empower placement, an organization must meet the criteria for all Jewish Organizing Fellowship placements, as described in our FAQ and the placement application. These are:

  • The supervisor of the JOIN Fellow has significant organizing experience and/or is currently an organizer and takes primary responsibility for the development of the Fellow as an organizer.
  • There is a demonstrated organizational commitment to organizing as a method used for social change.
  • The Fellow’s work has a significant component of in-person recruitment and training of leaders.
  • The Fellow plays a key role in a project or campaign the organization is undertaking.
  • The project or campaign the Fellow works on is something that builds towards a measurable social justice goal in the outside world.

In addition, placement supervisors must be able to participate in 1-2 days of training before and during the Fellowship year, and open communication with JOIN staff as needed to work together in supporting their Fellow. Most importantly, Empower placements should be interested in engaging in an ongoing collaborative learning process about reasonable accommodations, disability justice, and employing people with disabilities.

What does JOIN mean by “disability”?

We understand “disability” broadly. It can include, but is not limited to, the following experiences:

  • Physical disability or mobility impairment
  • Mental health, psychiatric, or psychosocial disability
  • Learning disability
  • Sensory disability, such as blind, low-vision, Deaf, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind
  • Chronic illness
  • Neurological or cognitive disability
  • Intellectual or developmental disability

Our organization isn’t totally accessible, or we don’t have much experience employing people with disabilities. Can we still be an Empower placement?

Yes! Empower placements do not have to be experts at employing people with disabilities already, or be fully accessible to people with all types of disabilities. Instead, we are looking for organizations that are eager to learn and collaborate to fully include their individual Fellow. In the matching process, we will work with each organization and potential Fellow to help make strong matches based on each Fellow’s needs and the requirements of each job.

How are Empower Fellows selected?

Empower Fellows will go through the same rigorous selection process (including application, phone interview, and day-long group interview) and meet the same criteria as all Jewish Organizing Fellows. We are looking for talented emerging organizers who have an interest in exploring the connections between their organizing work and their Jewish and disability identities.

How will the hiring process work?

Empower Fellowship candidates will be fully integrated into the Jewish Organizing Fellowship hiring process, so that employers have the opportunity to meet a variety of candidates who could be a good fit for their organization. Click here to learn more about the hiring (matching) process. As always, we will strive to introduce each organization to candidates who might be a good fit. To facilitate that, before our interview event on May 13, we will ask each organization for detailed information about qualities, skills, and abilities they require. For example, we may collect information about whether your office is wheelchair accessible, what languages your organizer would need to speak, and how much schedule flexibility you can offer. At the same time, we will ask candidates about their skills and abilities. Then, we will do our best to match you with candidates to interview who may be a good fit.

Throughout the process, JOIN staff are available for individual conversations with both organizations and Fellowship candidates, in order to develop a nuanced understanding of your needs and work together towards the best possible match. We will also support organizations in considering what accommodations might be possible within their work, and in preparing to interview candidates with disabilities. As with all Jewish Organizing Fellowship placements, there is no commitment to hire a Fellow until and unless you agree to make an offer to a specific candidate.

How can my organization apply to be an Empower Fellowship placement?

The application will soon be live and can be found here. Completed applications are due by April 8, 2019. There is an opportunity within the application to indicate your interest in the Empower Fellowship. We hope that all or most placement organizations will be interested in the opportunity to host an Empower Fellow. As always with the Jewish Organizing Fellowship, applying to be an Empower placement does not guarantee a match or create a commitment, but it allows you to explore our pool of highly talented finalists to see if there is a good fit.

For more details on the hiring process and timeline, please visit this page and contact Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org or 617-350-9994 x 203 with any questions.

I have questions or concerns, or I’m not sure if this is a good fit for my organization.

Please contact Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org or 617-350-9994 x 203. This is all new to us too! We want to work with you and figure it out together. We are very happy to answer your questions and discuss how and whether this opportunity can be a good fit for your organization.