From Our Blog

A History of the “Future of Jewish Education”

By Russel Neiss on June 13th, 2017

This is part 2 of the series in eJewishPhilanthropy, Continuing Conversations on Leveraging Educational Technology to Advance Jewish Learning. The series is a project of Jewish Funders Network, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation. For an in-depth look at opportunities in Jewish Ed Tech and digital engagement, read Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy. Later this year, Jewish Funders Network will launch a new website to help advance the field of Jewish educational technology. In 1911, William Inglis, writing for Harper’s Weekly profiled Thomas Edison’s latest invention that he guaranteed would, “make school so attractive that a big army with swords and guns couldn’t keep boys ...More

PREPARING TO DEEPEN ACTION: A Funder Collaborative Finds its Way

By on June 13th, 2017

The formation of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative was the result of a process begun by the Jim Joseph Foundation in 2013. At that time, in an effort to spawn innovative, locally sustainable teen engagement programs, the Jim Joseph Foundation brought together an array of funders to explore various approaches. The first 24 months of this deliberate process in which ten local and five national funders undertook to educate themselves, build relationships and co-invest in community-based Jewish teen education and engagement initiatives was thoughtfully documented in a case study issued in January 2015 by Informing Change, entitled, Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads ...More

Sharing Early Insights: Lessons Learned from the Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative

By Sara Allen on June 13th, 2017

Four years ago, Effective Strategies for Educating and Engaging Jewish Teens was released, a report that brought to the fore promising models and practical ways for communities to engage teens in Jewish experiences that enrich their lives and help them grow. On the heels of the report, national and local funders representing ten communities took action, coming together to study the findings, commission additional groundbreaking reports, and to design responsive local teen engagement initiatives. Ultimately, the group evolved into a robust community: the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative. The Funder Collaborative is an innovative philanthropic experiment – a network of funders working together to develop, fund, support and grow new teen initiatives that ...More

Procuring the Proper Software, Hardware and Teacher Training for Successful Educational Technology Integration – A Funder’s Perspective

By Amy Amiel on June 7th, 2017

This is part 1 of the series in eJewishPhilanthropy, Continuing Conversations on Leveraging Educational Technology to Advance Jewish Learning. The series is a project of Jewish Funders Network, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation. For an in-depth look at opportunities in Jewish Ed Tech and digital engagement, read Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy. Later this year, Jewish Funders Network will launch a new website to help advance the field of Jewish educational technology. When you care about successful technology integration in your local Jewish school, what is the most effective way to provide support? For today’s school leadership and school or community funders, the pathway forward ...More

Are we investing in the same people twice? Spoiler Alert – the answer is “Yes!”

By Steven Green on May 17th, 2017

A common question in philanthropy is whether there is double counting of the number of beneficiaries a funder’s grant dollars serves. Often, by asking this question, there is an implicit bias that reaching the same individuals more often than a single intervention is not a desired outcome. Why is this question relevant to the Jim Joseph Foundation? On a cursory level, approximately 18% of the active grants in our portfolio provide Jewish education and engagement opportunities to youth and families with young children [age 2-12]; 39% to teens [age 13-17]; 22% to college-age students [age 18-22]; and 21% to post-college [age 18-35]. The same individual could be a PJ Library recipient, then a BBYO member, then a Hillel-engaged student, then ...More

Making the most of technology in Jewish education

By Lewis J. Bernstein and Shira Ackerman on May 10th, 2017

You’ve seen the advertisements: A fit young woman pedals a stationary bicycle while an instructor on a video screen shouts encouragement. The company, Peloton, promises “fitness at your fingertips,” and both “live and on demand” spin classes and “world class instructors,” all from the comfort of your own home. What does a stationary bike company have to do with Jewish education? We believe that Judaism, a 4,000-year-old endeavor, has something important and timeless to say about building character and values; about dignity, persistence and survival skills; about humor, art and joy — all necessary attributes to build that better future. And we believe that media and technology have a place in this process to engage, model and teach. An Israeli ...More

Launching an Investment Strategy in Jewish Educational Leadership

By Seth Linden on April 25th, 2017

How might the Jewish world create, nurture and develop the next generation of Jewish education leaders? The professional staff and board at the Jim Joseph Foundation for the last 18 months have closely explored this question—drawing on 11 years of experience investing in Jewish educators, in Jewish learning experiences for youth, and in building the field of Jewish education to inform our answer. Through this exploration, we have gained an understanding that  supporting talented leaders is mission-aligned with supporting effective Jewish educators and helping to build the field in which they work. Specifically, investing in current and future leaders in Jewish education organizations is a leveraged strategy to achieve the Foundation’s broader mission. Many are now familiar with the ...More

Adidas & Ascots: Effective Leadership Comes in Many Styles

By Dawne Bear Novicoff on March 22nd, 2017

Since November, I have been consumed with the stories of one of the most dramatic and confusing leadership transitions in our country’s history—filled with sordid tales and accusations of wiretaps and secret alliances.  Just days before President Trump assumed his place in the White House, we at the Jim Joseph Foundation experienced our own leadership transition as founding Executive Director Chip Edelsberg stepped down after 11 years of service. Unlike the staffers in the white house, we did not have to pack up our boxes and vacate the premises prior to moving day for the new administration.  Rather, my colleagues at the Foundation and I sat in the front seat and watched closely as the 18-month transition unfolded and came ...More

In This Together: A Team Approach to Teen Engagement

By Malka Levitansky and Hallie Shapiro on March 20th, 2017

We’re all looking for that magic formula. That unique program, experience or methodology that will somehow not only engage Jewish teens in the present, but also keep them Jewishly involved on college campus and beyond. Foundations, Jewish federations and individuals invest millions of dollars a year in engaging the next generation of Jews. At the same time, there are tens of thousands of Jewish youth professionals, some affiliated with youth groups and others with Jewish organizations, working in the trenches to reach Jewish teens and connect them to their heritage. And there are educators, and consultants, and other experts contributing their expertise and then evaluating all of these efforts in search of answers. But the solution seems to be eluding us. Perhaps it’s because ...More

Introducing “Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy”

By Kari Alterman and Josh Miller on March 15th, 2017

In just a few days, Jewish philanthropists, foundation professionals and communal leaders will join together in Atlanta at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) 2017 conference. We will learn, question, and explore a range of topics of import to our collective work.  For our foundations—the Jim Joseph Foundation and William Davidson Foundation—JFN 2017 will provide a special opportunity to share and discuss just-released findings from Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy, a new report based on research conducted by Lewis J. Bernstein and Associates this past year. Our foundations chose to commission this study to address a core set of questions that feel pertinent in a world where technology has become such a ...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.