WORK FOR THE WORLD INTERVIEW
Featuring PJA Graduate Jacob Glass (class of 2019)
You are making the most of your sophomore year! Describe the advocacy work you are currently doing.
This year I started my work with Portland Youth Climate Strike (PYCS) and the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) Student Advisory Board, along with continuing my work with Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation (OJCYF) and USY.
PYCS is a completely youth-led organization committed to climate justice and advocating for environmental action. I am the Communications Co-Lead which means I help run our social media and work to improve our outreach.
OJMCHE is an amazing organization that works to educate people about the Holocaust and the history of Jews, specifically in Oregon. Last summer I joined their first student advisory board. We are focusing on youth engagement at the museum, and I am helping plan a book/film discussion group targeted towards high schoolers.
OJCYF is a philanthropy organization that I joined in 2019 as a freshman. I have learned so much about finance and charitable giving. Each year we allocate funds to different organizations both in the Jewish and secular communities of Portland.
What inspired you to partner with these particular organizations and take on these responsibilities?
I’ve been passionate about climate justice for a while now. After the school strike I attended in September of 2019, I wanted to find a way to do more. I learned that PYCS was accepting applications through Instagram and decided to apply.
At OJMCHE, I was initially interested in being a youth educator and tour guide at the museum. Once quarantine started and the museum closed to visitors, I learned about the student advisory board through Amanda Coven, the Director of Education. It seemed like an amazing way to learn more about topics I am interested in, so I decided to apply and was accepted to sit on the board.
I learned about OJCYF through my family, specifically my sisters who had both been involved in OJCYF when they were in high school. It seemed like a cool opportunity. I wanted to continue my work with OJCYF this year, so I applied again.
What has been the best part of the work you are doing?
The work I have been doing has been very helpful for getting me through this pandemic. Specifically, PYCS is something that I am very passionate about and it has helped me stay focused during this time. I also have made a lot of personal connections through the organizations I have joined. Recently, it has been crazy to look back and realize that I have not actually met any of the people from PYCS and yet I consider all of them friends since we have spent so much time together virtually.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Overall, this year I have found it very challenging to stay motivated. It is very easy to just ignore my work and waste my time and frequently I do try to avoid doing my work which can be hard on others who are depending on me. It’s very different from school where my grades impact just me, but in organizations, my work has a bigger impact and can affect the people I work with.
What kind of advice would you give someone your age or younger who is looking to do meaningful advocacy work?
I would recommend researching topics and finding what advocacy work you are truly passionate about and want to spend your time doing. For my capstone project, I planned a letter-writing event to encourage elected officials to support legislation on a few different topics. While I am still passionate about all of those topics, I learned that climate advocacy is where I want to put most of my energy. It could even become a career path for me.
Anything else you would like to share with the PJA community?
Follow these organizations on Instagram!! @portlandclimatestrike @oregonjewcrew @ojmche