From Our Blog

CEO Onboarding: An investment in the Jewish Future

By Dov Ben-Shimon and Abby Porth on June 16th, 2016

This blog appeared originally in eJewishPhilanthropy.  How do we hire and fire? What constitutes leadership? And what’s the difference between leadership and management? What are the values of Jewish institutions? And how should their executives display them? One of us (Dov) has been CEO of his Jewish Federation for slightly more than 18 months; the other (Abby) starts officially in her new role July 1. And together, with nine colleagues from across the nation, we form the first cohort in the innovative CEO Onboarding Pilot Program. We come from a diverse collection of Jewish federations, public/community relations and service organizations that work to create robust, vibrant Jewish communities. At this time when our American Jewish community is refashioning how ...More

A Look Back at Nadiv – What Have We Learned for the Future?

By Ramie Arian, Leah Nadich Meir, and Steven Green on June 15th, 2016

This blog appeared originally in eJewishPhilanthropy Five years ago, the Nadiv program was launched as an innovative pilot program involving six camp-school partnerships whose primary objective was enhancing and deepening the quality of Jewish education at the camps and enriching experiential education at the schools while building a mutually beneficial and sustainable camp-school model. The Nadiv model created six new full-time positions for experiential Jewish educators, each shared by a camp and a school in geographic proximity to each other. The educators, whose responsibilities were defined by each camp and school based on its needs, toggled their responsibilities between them. In most cases, this meant spending four days in the school during the academic year with one ...More

Counting All Educators, and Learning as We Count

By Dawne Bear Novicoff on May 31st, 2016

In San Francisco, the school year is about to end. Teachers and children (mine included!) are counting down the final days to summer. In the Jewish calendar, we are counting, too, but upwards rather than down as we mark the days of the Omer. The end of the school year is a special time – one of marking accomplishments and celebration of learning. It is also a time to celebrate educators. We bring them gifts, make cards and take a moment to acknowledge their centrality to the process and cycle of learning. At the Jim Joseph Foundation we do this daily. Since the Foundation’s inception, educating Jewish educators has been the first of three Foundation strategic priorities. To date, ...More

Hiddur: Deepening Jewish Experiences at Summer Camp

By Joel Einleger, Aaron Saxe, and Aimee Weiss on May 16th, 2016

This blog on Hiddur ran originally in eJewishPhilanthropy Think for a moment of nearly any activity you associate with Jewish camp. Whatever comes to mind, chances are that the experience is communal, engaging, and fun. Now, more camps increasingly recognize that any camp experience can also be a quality Jewish experience for their campers and staff – if designed in a thoughtful, intentional way. Over the last decade, multiple investments by different funders have focused on developing the Jewish experience at camp, and camps now have a wide range of professional development and training opportunities with this focus available to their seasonal and year-round staff. The field’s enthusiastic reception of these offerings has shown a steady appetite for learning ...More

The Performance Imperative and the Evolution of Relational Philanthropy

By Chip Edelsberg on May 3rd, 2016

As I move through my eleventh and final year as executive director at the Jim Joseph Foundation, I find it helpful to reflect on key grantmaking principles that inform how I work with Foundation Board members and professionals to help to shape the Foundation’s philanthropy. From the Foundation’s inception, Directors asked the professional team to collaborate with grantees and evaluation experts to carefully assess grants awarded. The Board believes the Foundation’s major grants (generally, awards of one million dollars or more over multiple years) should incorporate “right-sized” evaluation that produces valuable learning for the grantee, the Foundation, and the field of Jewish education. Many developments and changes have occurred in Jewish education, the Jewish community at-large, and in the social profit sector ...More

Turning a Visit into an Immersive Experience

By Steven Green on May 2nd, 2016

The Jim Joseph Foundation invests in curated, immersive, learning experiences and the training of talented educators who facilitate them. From a pedagogical view, this learning experience stands in contrast to a simpler “trip to the museum,” which by itself typically lacks the educational component that catalyzes learning. Rather, an immersive learning experience provides an opportunity for a participant’s growth of knowledge, character, and identity. One example of the value of such an opportunity is found in a 1970 study of Sesame Street,[1] (which had premiered in 1969). The study sought to determine whether socioeconomic status (SeS) was a determining factor for whether children aged 3-5 benefited from watching the program. In this study, for this demographic, there was a ...More

Welcoming in the Stranger, Along with Our Own

By Chip Edelsberg on April 15th, 2016

As Jews around the world soon sit down for Seders, we are reminded again of our tradition’s powerful message to welcome the stranger. Some heed this call year-round; others do it once a year; still others maybe never have, but commit to do so now. While we rightfully focus on this message, we also should remember to welcome in those in our community in meaningful, sustained ways. At the Jim Joseph Foundation, welcoming in others in our community is a core principle of our relational approach to grantmaking. Often this philanthropic approach is interpreted as grantmaking implemented with a funder and grantee coming together for a deep and meaningful relationship. While this relationship is a critical component of this strategy, it ...More

Reflections on the Jewish Funders Network 2016 Conference

By Professional Team on April 14th, 2016

Editor’s Note: The Jim Joseph Foundation was represented at the Jewish Funders Network conference by eight members of its professional team, four members of its board, and its incoming President and CEO. Below, three members of the Foundation’s professional team share their reflections on the conference—what they learned; what they enjoyed; what surprised them; and how the entire experience will inform their work moving forward. We share these insights with the belief that understanding what individuals take away from conferences and convenings helps all in our field plan and design meaningful, impactful face-to-face opportunities to learn and to share knowledge. If there was ever an event that combined the simcha of a wedding and the camaraderie of camp, I’d say it ...More

Measuring Outcomes Across Grantees and Over Time

By Stacie Cherner on March 10th, 2016

When the Jim Joseph Foundation’s evaluators’ consortium met last November, the overall focus was on the long road ahead towards developing a common set of measures—survey items, interview schedules, frameworks for documenting distinctive features of programs—to be used as outcomes and indicators of Jewish learning and growth for teens and young adults. Consortium members and the Foundation were especially excited to learn about the work led by George Washington University to develop a common set of long-term outcomes and shared metrics to improve the Foundation’s ability to look at programs and outcomes across grantees and over time. A key part of this endeavor will be an online menu—developed in consultation with evaluation experts and practitioners—from which grantees can ...More

A Special Spirit at the Summit

By Chip Edelsberg on March 2nd, 2016

As readers of this blog, you are likely aware that the Jim Joseph Foundation Board has selected Barry Finestone to be the Foundation’s President and CEO. I am excited for Barry; for the Foundation Board of Directors and staff; and for stakeholders in the excellence of Jewish education. In preparation for the transition, I took a number of steps to bolster the organizational structure of the Foundation. Most important among these moves is expanded management responsibilities for various professional personnel: in supervising and talent management for Assistant Director Dawne Bear Novicoff; in Foundation strategizing for Josh Miller, promoted to Program Director; in grantmaking responsibilities for Stacie Cherner, promoted to Senior Program Director; and Steven Green, whose relations with grantees in a ...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.