From Our Blog

May 2007

By on May 13th, 2007

The most recent report Dr. Amy Sales and her Brandeis University research team submitted to the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) asserts that “relatively little is being done at the first steps of professional development where new talent is identified, recruited, and prepared for professional work. Unless these first steps are successful, problems with the quality of professional practice, attrition, and the absence of a professional culture will persist.” It is with this goal in mind that JJF Directors have approved a grant of up to $2.325 million to BBYO for implementation of a Youth Professional Initiative. In short, BBYO will identify a cohort of up to 20 young professionals, who during three years of youth group work with that ...More

April 2007

By on April 18th, 2007

At this time of the year, it is natural to view the Foundation’s activity by contextualizing it within observance of Passover. For Jewish foundations, the themes of Passover—choice, renewal, inclusion, ritual—are worthy of reflection. Passover’s dramatic story of the Jewish exodus from that “narrow place” (Mitzrayim, i.e, Egypt) is a riveting narrative of a people liberating themselves from slavery. Today, the arc of freedom for American Jewry has reached its zenith. Jews enjoy unprecedented access to corporate offices, private spaces, and the public square. For the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF), this reality necessitates understanding that Jews’ participation in Jewish education is voluntary, fluid, and self-directed. Concomitantly, the Foundation recognizes that Jewish educational experiences must be deeply engaging in order ...More

March 2007

By on March 18th, 2007

Jim Joseph Foundation professionals and its Directors are engaged in countless conversations with representatives of organizations and institutions that provide education for Jewish children, youth, and young adults in the United States. The Foundation’s evolving approach to its grant making is conversational in nature. We view thoughtful, probing, reflective, and ongoing discourse with the field as a vital way to do business. We are currently talking with more than a dozen prospective grantee partners. In each case, we envision opportunity to provide Foundation support that will advance our mission. JJF Directors expect its professionals to manage highly interactive processes of developing promising funding opportunities for the Board to consider. We do not accept proposals, issue RFPs, invite organizations as “vendors” to ...More

February 2007

By on February 18th, 2007

The question I am asked most frequently these days is “how does my organization go about being invited to apply for a Jim Joseph Foundation grant?” It’s a fair question, to be sure. Here’s how we operate at the Foundation to ensure we do the best job possible of inviting grantees to work with us in crafting promising proposals. First of all, we critically view the Foundation’s philanthropy through various value screens, the most important of which are the Foundation’s mission, vision, and its strategic goals. We also consistently apply a set of grant screening criteria to any prospective grantee: - Demonstrated need in the target population - Financial feasibility - Potential for funding partners - Strength of professional and lay leadership - Evaluation that will ...More

January 2007

By on January 18th, 2007

The New Year represents a moment in time to reflect on the past and to look forward. Directors and professionals at the Jim Joseph Foundation – despite being together “around the table” for less than a year – can appreciate the recent past and anticipate the future with great excitement. The Jim Joseph Foundation has completed its Strategic Planning. In following the lead of its extraordinarily generous founder, the Foundation will focus its grant making on education of Jewish children, teens, and young adults. The Foundation will commit substantial resources to support what it deems to be compelling educational experiences. We will concentrate on the sometimes seemingly intractable challenge of recruiting, training and retaining high quality Jewish educators. The Foundation is ...More

December 2006

By on December 18th, 2006

As the Foundation draws closer to solidifying its initial grant making priorities and strategies, we have gained clarity about its vision. The Jim Joseph Foundation envisions a future in which ever-increasing numbers of young Jews engage in meaningful, ongoing Jewish learning and choose, as a result of the compelling and inspirational quality of those learning experiences, to lead vibrant Jewish lives. While the Foundation’s understanding of the field continues to evolve, we are confident in what we have learned. Among the critical principles that we find to be especially pertinent are the following: - Discrete stages in child, youth, and young adult development possess distinctive characteristics that have implications for how learning and teaching best occur. - Learning experiences, in order to be ...More

November 2006

By on November 18th, 2006

I am gratified to report that the Foundation has kept pace with an aggressive schedule for conducting its first ever strategic planning process. This site contains links to many of the documents that inform our work. The staff's ongoing research into myriad programs of education for Jewish children and youth in the United States complements this baseline material. Our due diligence efforts are both concentrated and extensive. In the next eight weeks, Directors will refine the Foundation's mission; articulate its vision; determine major goals; and delineate grant making strategies. We will make difficult decisions among countless philanthropic opportunities. The Foundation seeks relevance as it strives to craft a focused agenda. We will frame grant making in a Jewish lens which reflects the ...More

September 2006

By on September 18th, 2006

The Jim Joseph Foundation was recently privileged to host a two day Retreat with distinguished madrichm (guides) Rabbi David Ellenson, Arthur Fried, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, Alan Hoffmann, Richard Joel, Rachel Levin, Ruth Messinger, Jehuda Reinharz, and Jeff Solomon. (Invited guest Arnold Eisen unfortunately was unable to attend.) Each of these experienced, thoughtful Jewish leaders submitted a paper to the Foundation prior to the Retreat. Individually, the madrichim responded to a single question that is of great import and urgency to the Foundation: given the Foundation’s anticipated availability of 20 million dollars to grant, annually, on a perpetual basis, what strategic grant making opportunities in support of education of Jewish youth in the United States evidence greatest promise for making an indelible ...More

August 2006

By on August 13th, 2006

Jim Joseph cared deeply about philanthropy.  In a meeting with a group of advisors in December of 2003 (just a few days before his tragic death), Jim explained that once "we spend time on philanthropy, whatever [it is], think of it as our child." Jim's intent was that we nurture what we begin. Jim Joseph Foundation’s Directors, following Jim's advice to solicitously nurture philanthropic enterprise, have committed to thoughtful planning before embarking on a path of foundation grant making. Among the planning activities is a project Brandeis University’s Cohen Center is currently conducting on behalf of the Foundation.  Dr. Amy Sales leads a research team that is mapping the field of education of Jewish youth in the United States.  The study will identify ...More

July 2006

By on July 18th, 2006

It is an extraordinary honor to have been selected the founding Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Jim was devoted to the continuity of the Jewish people. He believed that education of children and youth was critical to ensuring that Jews in the U.S. enjoy a secure future. He desired that our young people should be guided by the lessons of our distinctive history and that they grow up to lead lives suffused with Jewish values in personal and professional pursuits. Jim’s generous gift to Jewish philanthropy in support of the education of children and youth is remarkable testimony to his manifest devotion. I am fortunate to be working with a Board of Directors whose diverse talents promise to make ...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.