From Our Blog

September 2009

By on September 14th, 2009

It is Elul again, with another year having passed ever so quickly. In anticipation of the High Holy Days, it seems natural to reflect on the year’s events and to take stock as well of the evolution of the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Foundation has been in existence for 44 months. Directors have awarded grants for which funding commitments exceed 161 million dollars. Retrospectively, we have discerned that JJF’s philanthropy is focused primarily on four key objectives:

  • Increase the number and quality of Jewish educators
  • Strengthen peer to peer education
  • Increase ongoing and immersive Jewish learning
  • Build stronger organizations to serve the field (Click here for a concise summary of JJF’s grant making during the period January 2006 – July 2009)
Indicators from a number of ...More

July 2009

By on July 14th, 2009

The Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) from its very onset has devoted significant resources to the assessment of its major grant initiatives. JJF has a relatively simple rationale for assessing the efforts of its grantees:

  • To ensure funds are expended for purposes for which they were awarded.
  • To determine what grantee outcomes the Foundation seeks to measure and how it would like those outcomes documented and reported.
  • To assess if the desired results were actually achieved.
  • To learn, in order that subsequent Foundation grantmaking is informed by knowledge acquired.
  • To contribute to the field by reporting on outcomes and results of grants made and lessons learned. This information, when actively used by JJF and other funders, advances the practice of philanthropy.
We are currently engaged in numerous assessments ...More

June 2009

By on June 14th, 2009

Jim Joseph Foundation Directors devoted a portion of our April Board meeting to another formal review of the Foundation’s implementation of its strategic plan. Directors examined a profile of JJF’s philanthropy (JJF Grant Award Portfolio Analysis) prepared by the Foundation’s professionals. Together, the Board and professionals analyzed the Foundation’s execution of its strategic plan and explored possibilities to re-calibrate what we do. Having now granted more than $150 million dollars, the Foundation recognizes that it is awarding a greater percentage of funding to “young” adults, ages 22-30, than it had originally predicted. We are likely to continue on this path for the time being, believing that funding over the long term is most likely to enable JJF and its grantees ...More

April 2009

By on April 14th, 2009

Continued fraying of a tattered economy is tearing our communal fabric. The very future of an unknown number of Jewish organizations is imperiled. The editors of the NonProfit Quarterly observe in the current issue of the journal that “we are in the midst of turbulent economic, societal, and demographic changes. Every nonprofit will be affected, and there are no bystanders in this game.” Jim Joseph Foundation Directors determined that one reasonable response for JJF to make in this time of need was to provide short-term emergency relief targeted to education. Directors focused on the four greater metropolitan areas in which they reside in awarding $11 million dollars—$5.5 million dollars over each of the next two years—to support needs-based financial aid for ...More

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

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.