From Our Blog

A Bridge Leading Somewhere

By Steven Green on March 23rd, 2015

Since the Jim Joseph Foundation’s inception nine years ago, bridge funding has been a part of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy. While usually defined by shorter grant periods, a bridge funding grant can have a significant catalyzing impact on the grantee—and often is indicative of an exciting new stage of organizational growth or direction. The Foundation’s bridge funding grants have most commonly followed a leadership transition in the organization and often have also resulted from the development of strategic and business plans, capacity building plans, and pivots in overall mission and vision. Bridge funding also has been awarded as an initial foray into capacity building when program funding had been awarded previously as a multi-year commitment. While these are common characteristics of ...More

Are You High Performance? Leap of Reason Can Help You Answer “Yes!”

By Chip Edelsberg on March 11th, 2015

In 2011, social-sector thought leader Mario Morino released a book entitled Leap of Reason. In essence, Morino argued that the social-sector could be vastly improved by relentlessly measuring results for which organizations held themselves accountable to achieve. Morino subsequently created a community of stakeholders committed to this perspective and a website as a portal for conversation about Leap of Reason’s thesis and main ideas. In the years that followed, Leap of Reason expanded from being a title of a book to the name of an ambitious initiative. Last month, this ambition was on full display as Leap of Reason’s e-newsletter asked a simple yet profound question: “Are you High Performance”? Of course, who doesn’t want to answer a resounding “Yes!” But nonprofits ...More

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

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.