From Our Blog

From Strength to Greater Strength: How Capacity Building Grants Elevate Organizations

By Chip Edelsberg on February 19th, 2015

In the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to identify and analyze best grantmaking strategies, we have seen grantees achieve outcomes that both strengthen organizational capacity and position organizations for future growth. By virtue of grantees’ strong performance, the Foundation is gaining experience as a capacity building funder. Before I share examples of successes, it is helpful to understand what a capacity building grant actually is designed to do. The term itself is somewhat general and may refer to different types of grants, depending on the context and situation of the potential grantee. Capacity building, broadly defined, refers to “activities that strengthen nonprofits so that they can better achieve their mission.”[1]  Tools exist to help organizations assess their capacity.[2]  Organizations at ...More

More than one way to document a model

By Sandy Edwards on January 9th, 2015

In the dead of winter, with a Nor’easter bearing down, what compels someone to travel from Miami to Boston? If you work in Jewish education, it’s the opportunity to see first-hand and learn about all of the elements of a successful project called B’Yadenu. I had the opportunity as well to sit-in on this dissemination, known as the Community Partner Workshop. Important takeaways from this process can help other foundations, schools, and organizations as they decide when and how to disseminate a successful model. As a demonstration project, B’Yadenu aims to create an effective, sustainable, and adaptable model to provide a Jewish Day School education to more students with a range of special learning needs in the Boston Jewish Day ...More

Rededicating ourselves to “otherness”

By Chip Edelsberg on January 6th, 2015

“True community does not come into being because people have feelings for each other (though that is required, too), but rather on two accounts: all of them have to stand in a living, reciprocal relationship to a single living center, and they have to stand in a living, reciprocal relationship to one another.” – Martin Buber, I and Thou The end of the year is a time when I read voraciously. I do so annually wanting to rededicate myself to the concept of “otherness,” which for me derives from a long cherished belief in specific aspects of Martin Buber’s I and Thou. Reminding myself that there is an ever-present “other” – both in the amount of content in which I lack knowledge ...More

A letter to grantees on the Foundation’s Grantee Perception Report

By Chip Edelsberg on December 19th, 2014

Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to Jim Joseph Foundation grantees regarding the Foundation's 2014 Grantee Perception Report In 2014, the Jim Joseph Foundation commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to produce a second Grantee Perception Report (GPR) for the Foundation. (The first study was conducted in 2010.) The resulting report offers detailed feedback about the Foundation’s work and interactions with—and impact on—grantees and the field. Thank you for responding to CEP’s survey earlier this year. Obviously, there would be no report without your involvement. We rely on information like this to provide accurate, useful information about our performance. The GPR offers insights about processes we may change to better serve grantees. It helps us contemplate new strategies to consider ...More

An eventful year draws to a close

By Chip Edelsberg on December 9th, 2014

The end of the year is upon us – again! It is busier at the Foundation than at any other time during the year. Both our annual and final regularly scheduled Board meetings of 2014 just concluded. We have considerable follow-up business to conduct. We gratefully have numerous major grant payments to make in December, requiring careful review of progress reports submitted by grantees, along with our regular conversations with them. The Board continues its active search for new Directors. Planning for a March, 2015 Board Retreat is intensifying. Preparation for the February 7/8 Board meeting has already begun. Employee performance reviews are underway, even while we continue to focus on successfully integrating two recently hired employees, Program Officer Stacie ...More

Only One Chance to Make a First Impression – Reflections of a new Program Officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Stacie Cherner on November 26th, 2014

The quality of one’s education often is a key determinant to a successful and fulfilling life. This is true of general education as well as Jewish education. My entire career has been focused on improving the quality of education in order to improve the quality of life for children and families. There are many approaches that have been tried in the realm of general education: from improving access to pre-K for young children; to making sure families have access to the basics of healthcare, dental care, and good nutrition; to preventing teen pregnancy; to recruiting and training good teachers; to helping school systems use data to make better decisions; and many more. Evaluating these approaches and ideas is integral to learning what ...More

Mindful Moments in a Multitasking World

By Chip Edelsberg on November 6th, 2014

This column represents a departure from my normal updates on some aspect of Jim Joseph Foundation philanthropy. What follows is a reflection of a phenomenon that has become part and parcel of everyday life, in both our personal and professional routines. Of late, I have read a spate of commentaries and studies on the effects of multitasking. Pervasive social media and its instant accessibility mean that individuals can simultaneously engage with multiple channels of meaning. (In drafting the first paragraph of this update, for example, I listened to Pandora while concurrently checking my iPad for early morning email and occasionally stealing a glance at a desktop screen). The immediacy and ubiquitousness of technology will unquestionably accelerate. Some assert that “…not only are ...More

Shared Measurement Tools for Jewish Education: Could It Happen?

By Josh Miller on October 14th, 2014

Within Jewish tradition, an appreciation for the importance of shared measurement tools dates back to biblical times. In Deuteronomy 25:15 the Torah teaches: “a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be lengthened on the land…” There are many reasons why it is valuable to have and to honor our universal systems for measurement. These fundamental tools enable us to describe what we observe, compare like items, and draw conclusions from these comparisons. And yet, despite the implicit value of shared measures, the process of developing such tools is not always simple. The Challenge of Establishing Shared Measurement in Jewish Education In the field of Jewish education, establishing universal measures to assess learning outcomes is particularly challenging. Within ...More

What Does Shmita Mean for a Jewish Foundation?

By Chip Edelsberg on October 14th, 2014

In Jewish life, 5775 is a “Sabbath of Sabbaths” – a shmita year. Guided by passages in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, we are enjoined to act in ways that manifest generosity (sharing the bounty of the food we may grow) and forgiveness (of debt). Shmita is arguably about equity. Its practice provides those who are economically disenfranchised access to life sustenance (literally, food). It is a reprieve from debt for those who have been pushed to the margins of society. Fundamentally, shmita asks us as Jews to guard against depersonalizing our communal connection. We are encouraged to reflect on any ways in which we might have segregated ourselves from meaningful relationships, both to earthly sources of bounty and to the wide scope ...More

The Jim Joseph Foundation invests in promising Jewish education grant initiatives. We partner with effective organizations that seek to inspire young people to discover the joy of living vibrant Jewish lives.