From Our Blog

March 2009

By on March 14th, 2009

There has been a spate of articles lately debating the advisability of non-profits embracing business practices. This discussion is not new, but at the moment it is particularly heated due to the abysmal performance of the private sector, the collapse of major Fortune 500 companies, and the much publicized avarice of any number of wealthy corporate executives. From the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) perspective—one I conjecture is shared by many of our foundation peers—Jim Collins’ Good to Great and the Social Sectors offers the most penetrating analysis of the relevancy of business ethos to non-profit enterprise. Collins’ makes a persuasive case for “greatness” which he argues exists in both corporate and independent sectors. He asserts that “the cornerstone of a culture ...More

February 2009

By on February 14th, 2009

It is safe to say that those of us who work at the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) feel extremely fortunate these days. We have been spared the job loss inflicted on scores of organizations that have been buffeted by the economic maelstrom. Furthermore, we recognize that we are not contending with the mounting pressure non-profits confront having to raise funds in a distressed environment. Given the challenging times in which we work, we are acutely aware of the responsibility JJF has to its grantees. JJF’s grant making portfolio is substantial. We have awarded $125 million dollars in grants. In preparation for the Foundation’s initial 2009 Board meeting on April 5th and 6th, we are working with several organizations on significant grant ...More

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

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.