From Our Blog

July 2011

By on July 14th, 2011

Since its inception in 2006, the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) has committed itself to continuous improvement. Often continuous improvement is just a catch phrase or a professed (but typically, undocumented) pattern of performance. JJF, however, is refining a set of measures it uses to assess its improvement efforts. For JJF, “getting better” points the foundation to a number of behaviors and indicators. First, as is well known to readers of this column, we work closely with grantees to track the number of beneficiaries of JJF grant support. So, for example, it is affirming to JJF that 2,625 youth are in Jewish residential summer camps in the summer of 2011 (1,615 in JWest camps and 1,010 in the five JJF-funded Specialty camps) ...More

June 2011

By on June 14th, 2011

While I was in the process of composing this month’s Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) Executive Director Update on JJF’s developing effort in researching Jewish teen education and engagement, JTA released Lynn Schusterman’s Op-Ed “Uping the Ante: Why I’m Doubling Down on the Teen Years.” Lynn lauds the success of youth groups and Jewish camps for engaging Jewish teenagers in “a compelling, meaningful and value-added manner.” Lynn exhorts funders to spend dollars supporting organizations which offer effective programs and to award grants to organizations which will replicate best practices. JJF’s grant support of organizations which the foundation has assessed to effectively educate Jewish teenagers is substantial: JJF has awarded $72 million to these organizations in the foundation’s first five years of its ...More

May 2011

By on May 14th, 2011

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) has made significant investments in organizations which serve Jewish young and so-called “emerging” adults. We have done so because JJF believes there is convincing evidence that young people value relevant Jewish learning; that quality Jewish experiential education speaks to these adults and is increasingly accessible to them; and that viable organizations with thoughtfully conceived initiatives merit foundation funding. While working closely with the likes of young-adult oriented entities such as Birthright, NEXT, Moishe House, Reboot and Repair, JJF also makes grants to enhance Jewish learning offered by organizations whose beneficiaries are Jewish teenagers. JJF currently funds, among others, Jewish middle and high school Israel education and a major day school affordability project; ...More

April 2011

By on April 14th, 2011

Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) is five years into its grantmaking. The Foundation has established strong funder-grantee relationships. It is beginning to accumulate interesting and telling data on its major funded initiatives from the 21 evaluations for which JJF has contracted. One area of grantmaking that evidences great promise is the Foundation’s strategy to support organizations which capitalize on peer-to-peer networks to engender young adult engagement with Jewish life and learning. The outstanding work of four organizations is featured in the linked micro-documentary. I encourage you to view it so that you can appreciate how Hillel’s Senior Jewish Educator / Campus Entrepreneur Initiative, REPAIR’s service learning programs, as well as Birthright NEXT and Moishe House peer educator activities deepen the Jewish lives ...More

March 2011

By on March 14th, 2011

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF), its funding partners, and grantees monitor carefully the number of participants who are beneficiaries of JJF-funded initiatives. JJF does not mistake numbers as conclusive evidence of success. The Foundation does believe, however, that increasing numbers of young Jews enrolled in residential camps and day schools, participating in immersive Israel experiences, and studying in intensive graduate programs of Jewish education are all positive indicators of advances in the field. JJF thus notes with exceptional pride the continued success of Taglit Birthright Israel. During the recent one week registration period, more than 40,000 individuals applied to participate in the upcoming 2011 summer experience. Across JJF’s portfolio of grantees, among the numbers that are of note currently ...More

February 2011

By on February 14th, 2011

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) has commenced its sixth year of operation. Numerous JJF-funded major grants are now several years into implementation. In many instances, grantees have had several independent evaluations conducted. Multiple data sets evidencing both strong outputs and successful outcome measures are beginning to emerge. The evolution of the foundation’s philanthropy in the context of its first five years of operation leads us to think critically about both our approach to grant renewals and the challenging question of how to most effectively contribute to the organizational sustainability of JJF’s highest performing grantees. JJF Directors have had several discussions on potential grant renewals. Provisionally, the foundation is using the following guidelines to frame its consideration of providing renewed ...More

January 2011

By on January 14th, 2011

With the onset of 2011, the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) begins its sixth year of operation. Directors have awarded $236 million in grants in the foundation’s initial five years. We anticipate another busy twelve month cycle, with JJF Directors meeting four times for two day meetings scheduled in March, June, October, and December. The portfolios of JJF’s four grant making professionals (and a fifth who is employed on a consulting basis for one year) are brimming. Each professional manages somewhere between five and one dozen major grants in tandem with special project assignments. I am eager to fill the two positions for which JJF is currently conducting searches. The new Program Officer and Program Associate for Grants Management will expand ...More

Funding Strategies for Young Adults

By on January 5th, 2011

In December of 2010, I was asked to present lessons learned and recommendations for funding Jewish young adult programs at the opening meeting of the Impact Grants Initiative sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Here is a link to the slides I prepared for the presentation. ...More

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

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.