From Our Blog

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

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

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.