PHOTO  Brendan Hoffman

AJWS volunteers learn that they have the power to influence U.S. policy—for good.

AJWS sent 394 volunteers and Jewish leaders to the developing world in 2011. From ten-day group trips for college students to multi-month intensive individual experiences for professionals, AJWS volunteers provided valuable skills and labor to grassroots organizations working to fight poverty and promote human rights in their communities.

To increase their impact, we trained many of them to become advocates for global justice when they got home. Our alumni are especially adept at influencing decisionmakers on Capitol Hill because they're able to tell passionate, first-hand accounts about how U.S. policy impacts poverty in the countries where they served.

Volunteers and alumni form a key force in AJWS's advocacy campaigns, and nearly 500 have lobbied Congress with AJWS in recent years, helping us build a movement of Jews working to sway public policy on global issues for greater justice in the world.

In 2011, our volunteers and alumni lobbied for food aid reform.

More than 60 alumni of our Volunteer Summer, Volunteer Corps, World Partners Fellowship and Rabbinical Students' Delegation descended on Capitol Hill to ask for reforms to U.S. food aid policy that will save lives in the communities where they volunteered. Many more got involved in our Reverse Hunger campaign in other ways, by signing petitions and helping organize a nationwide "Global Hunger Shabbat" and "18 Days of Action." In February and March 2012, when the Congressional debates on the Farm Bill were heating up, 55 more alumni joined us on Capitol Hill to lobby 24 Senate and House offices.

One of these volunteers, college student Izzy Parilis, blogged about her advocacy experience with AJWS. She found that her summer spent volunteering in Uganda played a vital role in her ability to speak out about global injustice back in the U.S.:

"When I applied for AJWS's Volunteer Summer program in Uganda, I knew that my stay in Ramogi Village would be temporary: seven weeks of volunteering, cultural exchange, education and travel. I never predicted that the experience would permanently impact the way I live my life—then, as a regular college student, and now as a proud Jewish global citizen."  More...

In this way, AJWS's volunteers not only impact the world on the ground in the countries where they serve, but continue to make a difference upon return.

To read the full text of volunteer Izzy Parilis's blog post about her advocacy day with AJWS, click here.

To see where AJWS's volunteers and grantees worked around the world in 2011, skip to Mapping our Impact.

If you're interested in learning more about volunteering with AJWS, click here.

About AJWS

Inspired by Judaism's commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.

About this report

This is a Web-only annual report. No paper, period! This change saved AJWS thousands of dollars that we can now spend fighting poverty and defending human rights. Going online also saved 30 tons of wood and 206,173 gallons of water. It prevented 18,575 lbs of greenhouse gases from polluting our air and kept 23,443 lbs of solid waste out of our landfills! Now that's savings we're proud of.