From Our Blog

December 2010

By on December 14th, 2010

I have commented many times in this column on the efforts the Jim Joseph Foundation makes to use good information and credible data for decision making. We have recently received a series of very detailed and formative evaluations from which there are important lessons to be learned. I have linked to this column reports on the Foundation for Jewish Camp Specialty Camp Incubator, the LA Jewish Community Federation/Bureau of Education High School Affordability Challenge Demonstration Grant, and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization Professional Development Initiative. Without commenting on the particulars of these evaluations, I do want to note several themes they have in common. First, in each grant, the evaluations reveal that there are documented indicators of success ...More

November 2010

By on November 14th, 2010

There has been a good deal of press lately on whom and how we count in the Jewish world. Counting of course has its place in Judaism. Two injunctions in the Torah directed Jews to take a census of the people. The august body of Sanhedrin consisted of 71 wise men. 10 persons are required for a minyan. Tradition teaches that at least 36 tzadikim nistarim are living among us. From the outset, as I have mentioned in this column before, the Jim Joseph Foundation has committed itself to work closely with grantees to both increase the number of young Jews these grantees educate as well as to enrich the relevance of the educational experiences offered. In the former instance, JJF ...More

October 2010

By on October 14th, 2010

At the Jim Joseph Foundation, I enjoy the professional privilege to work with a Board that guards against becoming an “either/or” funder. By this I mean that JJF’s six Directors do not dichotomize Jewish learning into misleading competing opposites. JJF’s Board members resist the temptation to make hard and fast distinctions between formal and informal (or experiential) education. They do not believe that funding established institutions should happen at the expense of supporting new high-performing organizations. Neither do they neglect proven programs for the sake of directing all of JJF’s resources to innovation. JJF’s Board is furthermore committed to understanding opportunities to enhance Jewish learning that capitalizes on the power of technology and new media – even as the foundation ...More

August 2010

By on August 14th, 2010

The Jim Joseph Foundation has four key strategies of grant making focus: educating educators; peer-to-peer learning; immersive learning experiences; and organizational and field capacity building. (See the link for the current composite of the foundation’s funding to each of these four areas.) Social networking on the web, which only a few years ago was just a relatively small part of online activity, is becoming a pervasive feature of our digital world. Increasingly, in each of JJF’s four strategy areas, this type of online activity is a fundamental means by which teaching and learning occur. Online social networking involves connecting with others who have shared interests by using technology which provides access to the internet. Such internet-capable technologies include computers, iPads, ...More

July 2010

By on July 14th, 2010

The Jim Joseph Foundation just completed its 19th board meeting since its inception in 2006. After an extended period of major, multi-year grant giving, Directors paused at this meeting to reflect on a host of important grant making issues which are embedded in the Foundation’s growing philanthropic portfolio. One of the topics of immediate concern to the Foundation is its philanthropy in support of Israel education. The Foundation has invested significantly in Israel education. It is one of the founding funders of the iCenter. This past year, in partnership with Spertus College, the iCenter offered the first program in North America that will confer Israel education certificates to 14 professional educators in 2011. Among the organizations whose educators are enrolled in ...More

June 2010

By on June 14th, 2010

I have taken great interest in following Internet-posted responses regarding the Jim Joseph Foundation’s recent grant to Stanford University to renew its doctoral concentration in Education and Jewish Studies (see official press release), which was dissolved in 2002. I was encouraged to encounter several reasoned, thoughtful commentaries that looked reflectively at the Foundation’s philanthropy and put it in the perspective of JJF’s publicly stated strategic goals. Seeing the strong responses JJF’s $12 million grant to Stanford University evoked in the community, I imagine JJF’s announcement of $33 million awarded to Hebrew Union College (HUC), Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) will evince an equally animated reaction (see official press release). All four of these grants clearly align with ...More

April 2010

By on April 14th, 2010

We recently asked Jim Joseph Foundation grantees to carefully assess the number of beneficiaries these organizations are educating as a by-product of JJF funding. The results of these efforts are displayed in the attached charts. As always, I welcome your review of these data and appreciate your comments. Despite obvious limits, the matter of counting children, teens and young adults involved in Jewish learning remains nonetheless an important measure of the Foundation’s funding at work. There is a complementary responsibility to describe the nature of learning that occurs as well as to account for its quality. Ultimately, JJF and its grantee partners aspire to demonstrate positive effects of the extraordinarily diverse forms of educational engagement that JJF grantee organizations offer. Meanwhile, ...More

March 2010

By on March 14th, 2010

This particular column marks an important point in conveying to the field a picture of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s evolving portfolio of work. Following a period of circumspect focus by Jim Joseph Foundation grantees, professionals, and evaluation contractors, we are posting 14 logic models that visually convey target outcomes of JJF’s major initiatives. You will note that the models are not structured identically. We have not imposed this requirement on our grantee and evaluation partners. The flexibility we allow in this area has not impaired our ability to explicitly clarify—with grantees and evaluators and for JJF Professionals and Directors—what the Foundation aspires to accomplish with its carefully considered philanthropic investments. I have explained before in this column how and why JJF employs theory ...More

February 2010

By on February 14th, 2010

In January, Jewish educators across the denominational spectrum and representing all grade levels, academic fields, and geographic regions convened for a landmark North American conference. The Jim Joseph Foundation, which values the dynamism of the Jewish faith and its fundamentally pluralistic character, believes that such educational professionals as these who gathered at last month’s conference are essential actors in the unfolding story of contemporary Judaism. JJF generously funds educator preparation and professional development. In the four years since its inception, the Foundation has awarded twenty-three percent of its grants to support educator certification, credentialing, and teacher induction. While JJF recognizes the impact of technological advances and deinstitutionalization on the operation of today’s schools, we believe that the role of educators will ...More

December 2009

By on December 14th, 2009

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) fourth and final Board meeting of 2009 – and its 17th since JJF’s inception in January 2006 – is December 6th and 7th. Directors will consider three grant renewal requests. This is really the first occasion in the Foundation’s brief history that major grant renewals have come before the Board. In preparation for the meeting, JJF professionals developed draft grant renewal guidelines to frame this Board discussion. (We will post the guidelines on this site once Directors approve them.) It is interesting to note, I think, that our efforts uncovered few satisfactory examples – at least in the form of written guidelines – of other foundations’ approaches to grant renewal. While I think availability and easy ...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.