From Our Blog

January 2009

By on January 14th, 2009

The Jewish world once again feels fragile. The unfolding of the scurrilous Madoff scandal, coupled with an unprecedented economic free fall, jeopardize hard earned progress the community has made to resource vital ventures in the education of young Jews. The Jim Joseph Foundation need not vilify Madoff. He has his own demons to battle, having shamelessly fallen prey to a greed that vitiates the most fundamental tenets of the Jewish faith. What does concern JJF is the ravages emerging from financial rubble that according to one observer “has shaken the American Jewish community to its core—maiming institutions large and small….” As I mentioned briefly in last month’s Update, this is a time for JJF to re-double its efforts to support grantees. As ...More

December 2008

By on December 14th, 2008

We are in the final stages of preparing for our third annual meeting since the Jim Joseph Foundation’s (JJF) inception in 2006 and the fourteenth regular meeting of the Board of Directors during the period 2006-2008. Directors will consider nine grant proposals at this upcoming December meeting. Four proposals represent new funding opportunities. Three proposals are for grant renewals. Directors will consider as well two proposals that represent augmenting grants previously awarded for robust assessment of these initiatives. JJF’s standard approach to what we intend will be careful, thorough appraisal of the Foundation’s major grants is reflected in four attached Theories of Change (TOC) we are posting as a companion to this column:

November 2008

By on November 14th, 2008

The last six months have been economically disastrous. The potential consequences of loss of revenue and contributed income to Jewish nonprofits — which in many cases are seriously undercapitalized — are severe. The Jim Joseph Foundation is neither immune to effects of the market free fall nor insensitive to the plight of its grantee partners. JJF is taking several steps to see if we support the operation of JJF’s major grantees. But we have not rushed to simply "push money out the door." We are contacting each of our major grantees to ask for information on the particular initiative JJF funds at the respective organizations. We are exploring with grantee partners if their organizations as a whole are experiencing difficulty. We ...More

October 2008

By on October 14th, 2008

The Jim Joseph Foundation just completed its second retreat in two years with a group of distinguished advisors whom JJF views as madrichim. Our conversation with these individuals was far-reaching. Madrichim critiqued JJF’s strategy implementation based on an analysis of JJF’s grant making that we presented to them (See the JJF Portfolio Analysis). We enjoyed a dialogue on potential JJF Request for Proposal opportunities. We discussed approaches JJF might take to lead and partner in the field so as to increase the Foundation’s chances to demonstrably achieve its vision of increasing numbers of young Jews engaged in ongoing Jewish learning and choosing to live vibrant Jewish lives. Suffice it to say there is neither unanimity of opinion among the madrichim, nor ...More

September 2008

By on September 14th, 2008

It is a time of special anticipation in the Jewish calendar year. As we approach the high holy days, we are called to engage in our faith traditions of communal gathering, personal introspection, and prayer and worship. The holidays ask us to participate in acts of contrition, repentance, forgiveness, and kindness. Most importantly, however, Selichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us the promise of renewal—of creating a better future by atoning for our transgressions and extending ourselves to our fellow human beings in committing to make the world a better place. Given the rituals and rhythms of the season, it seems especially appropriate that the Jim Joseph Foundation will reunite September 21 and 22 with the ten Madrichim (see a ...More

August 2008

By on August 14th, 2008

We are preparing for a September reunion with the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) Madrichim whose commissioned papers and ongoing counsel provide valuable guidance to us. As part of our preparation, the foundation is conducting a careful assessment of its past two and one-half years of grantmaking. A significant portion of the Madrichim retreat agenda will be devoted to discussion of JJF’s philanthropic performance to date. Once we have had an opportunity to process this information, we will post a series of graphics on this website which will profile the focus, scope, and early effects of the 161 grants JJF has awarded during the twenty-eight months of my tenure as JJF’s founding Executive Director. The retrospective analysis in which we are currently involved ...More

July 2008

By on July 14th, 2008

After two years of grant making, the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) looks forward to a summer in which many grantee beneficiaries will participate in programs of JJF funded initiatives. This past week, sixteen young BBYO professionals engaged in intensive Jewish study at Boston’s Hebrew College as members of the first cohort in JJF’s supported BBYO’s Professional Development Institute. In the western United States, hundreds of young campers began their first ever residential camping experience courtesy of JJF’s funding for the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s (FJC) JWest Campership Initiative. FJC anticipates over a thousand youngsters will enjoy this experience by summer’s end. Birthright Israel NEXT and Hillel have selected key personnel to direct their Birthright alumni and campus entrepreneurs/campus educator initiatives, respectively, both ...More

June 2008

By on June 14th, 2008

The Jim Joseph Foundation is now actively engaged in several major initiatives, working intensively with grantee partners and consultants to develop frameworks for monitoring and assessing JJF-funded initiatives. JJF Directors have awarded approximately $50 million in aggregate to BBYO, Birthright Israel, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and Hillel. For each initiative, articulating a theory of change, developing a logic model, designing an evaluation plan – these are basic structural elements of JJF’s grant making architecture. At its May 18-19 Board meeting, JJF Directors added four significant new grants to the Foundation’s portfolio. JJF is now sponsoring two pilot projects – a Bay Area-wide Israel education project for eleven Bay Area day schools and a JCC North Shore (Massachusetts) Jewish Youth Initiative. ...More

April 2008

By on April 14th, 2008

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) Directors, in their first 2008 Board meeting, approved two major and, we believe, significant capacity building grants together totaling more than 23 million dollars. These grants will strengthen Birthright Israel Foundation and Hillel in engaging young adults ages 18-30. The investment of 12.5 million dollars granted to Birthright Israel and 10.7 million dollars awarded to Hillel (each over five years) will enable both organizations to move forward with the implementation of programs that are of key strategic priority to them. The programs themselves—Taglit-Birthright Israel community trips and alumni engagement in fifteen cities, and Hillel’s expansion of its successful Campus Educator/Campus Entrepreneur program to ten campuses—will be fueled by new types of Jewish professionals. These professionals will ...More

February 2008

By on February 14th, 2008

As we expand Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) philanthropy, we will intensify efforts to show work products that reflect our thinking, doing and learning. The transparency we are trying achieve on this site is meant to give interested stakeholders insight into JJF’s approach to its philanthropy. We want our work to be accessible, understandable, and open to comment and critique. To that end, please find several additional reports linked to the site this month (News and Publications). Of note is the final installment of the research study that JJF commissioned Brandeis University to conduct in mapping the field of education of Jewish youth in the United States, Lessons from Mapping Jewish Education. You can also find a paper authored by ...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.