From Our Blog

When Jewish personal and professional lives intersect

By Nicole Levy on May 18th, 2015

JJF Logo BlockLast week marked six months since I was hired as an Administrative Assistant at the Jim Joseph Foundation. I thoroughly enjoy my work, which, as I expected, is rewarding. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is how my engagement in Jewish life professionally would lead to new opportunities for engagement and Jewish learning in my personal life. My journey is probably similar to many other young professionals at various Jewish organizations. I was raised in a Jewish-secular household. My parents, both raised in Israel, are not religiously observant but provided me with an upbringing rich with Jewish culture, pride, and values. I moved to San Francisco after graduating college. While being very ...More

It Takes a Strong Field to Make a Stronger Field

By Chip Edelsberg on May 6th, 2015

One of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s three strategic funding priorities is to build the field of Jewish education. But what does this actually mean? What actions does the Foundation take to work towards this goal? With these questions in mind, I took stock recently of how the Foundation’s field building efforts have manifested themselves. What’s especially noteworthy is how a strong field has helped Jewish education continue to evolve; how offerings both for educators and learners continue to expand; and how a strong field increases the power and strength of networks. The Foundation’s field building efforts take on various forms. In certain instances, we utilize the Foundation’s robust program of evaluation to share valuable learnings that we hope benefit the field. ...More

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn: A Time of Change at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Chip Edelsberg on April 14th, 2015

I hope you enjoyed a meaningful Pesach with family and friends. In this month’s blog, I want to share with you several significant personnel changes at the Foundation. Sandy Edwards, the Foundation’s Associate Director since 2006, will step down in June of this year. After I was named Executive Director, Sandy was the first person I brought on board as I built the Foundation’s professional team. If you have had the privilege to work with Sandy, you are well aware of her life-long commitment to Jewish education; her understanding of multiple ways to assess Jewish learning; and her strong desire to share best practices. Many of the Foundation’s standard operating procedures regarding its evaluation program and model documentation were conceptualized ...More

My First Pesach at the Jim Joseph Foundation: Reflections from a Program Associate

By Jeff Tiell on April 13th, 2015

For all Jews worldwide, it recently was Pesach. What did it mean to you? To me, every year, it means reflection on two questions emanating from the same root: Am I free and Are we free? The “we” meaning my family, my friends, my communities (Jewish and otherwise), my city, our society, our world. These questions could be unpacked in a host of different ways, discussed, argued, and contested. After all, that’s the point right? For me, these questions held special significance this Pesach because I asked them as a recent hire of the Jim Joseph Foundation. At the end of January I began my job as Program Associate at the Foundation. The Program Associate role is a new one for ...More

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at an Evaluators’ Consortium

By Sandy Edwards and Stacie Cherner on April 9th, 2015

In the midst of its tenth year, the Jim Joseph Foundation has created what might be called “a family of beneficiaries.” There are young Jews who have, as an example, traveled to Israel on Birthright, lived in a Moishe House, enrolled in HUC-JIR, Mechon Hadar, or other education institutions, and perhaps earned credentials as expert Israel educators as part of a program with the iCenter. All of these exceptional institutions and organizations are grantees of the Foundation. Now, a new “family” is developing. And while these family members often operate behind-the-scenes, we believe they are equally as important to the Foundation’s pursuit of its mission. This family is comprised of a small number of highly skilled evaluators and researchers, which the ...More

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

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.