From Our Blog

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

Mitigating Risk of a Risky Grant

By Aaron Saxe on February 21st, 2017

“It’s an incubator. All of it is a risk.” – Michele Friedman, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Director of New Camp Initiatives When the Jim Joseph Foundation made a $10 million grant to the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) in 2007 to launch the Specialty Camp Incubator, the field of Jewish camping was in a vastly different place than it is today. Jewish specialty camping was in its infancy, with only a smattering of specialty programs embedded in traditional Jewish overnight camps. While incubators were becoming a popular method to kick-start new ventures both in and out of the Jewish world, incubating a cohort of new camps was new to the field of camping writ large, let alone ...More

Internal Exploration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Jeff Tiell on February 6th, 2017

How do we as Jews authentically tell our stories to others and ourselves? How do we as Jews bring the relevance and meaning of Judaism—whatever that may mean to you—in our lives? How do we as Jews show up? These are just a few of the questions I have been asking myself, sometimes more explicitly, sometimes less, over the last few years. The noted novelist and writer, Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” The answers to some of these questions have come to me in the form of practice and process; and in both personal and professional ways. Personally, I was privileged to attend my first Moishe House Meditation Retreat in Southern ...More

The Day(s) After: Civil Discourse and Why Genuine Leadership Matters Above All Else

By Barry Finestone on January 24th, 2017

As we wade into uncharted waters as a country, I want to try and step back just a bit to explore what I believe is an especially essential quality for organizations and organizational leaders within our field to exhibit at this moment: genuine leadership. I also want to offer some thoughts about the role and responsibility of Jewish education in fostering and supporting this leadership. Over the last few months, many organizational heads, education leaders, educators, and yes, funders, have been asked in various ways to help make sense of the Presidential election, to formulate “a response,” and to devise some type of path forward about which all can feel positive. Already, in the words written above, I have stepped into a ...More

Professional Preparation: A “Value Add” for Educators and their Employers

By Yael Kidron on January 23rd, 2017

Editor's Note: In October 2016, the Jim Joseph Foundation released the final evaluation from American Institutes for Research on the Education Initiative--the $45 million, six year investment in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) for Jewish educator training. The Foundation and AIR shared some of the key findings and lessons learned from the Initiative. AIR also is releasing a series of blogs that delve more deeply into important findings from the evaluation--the second of which, below, discusses the value of professional preparation programs, and key characteristics that make those programs excellent.  Whether in a classroom, at a camp, at locations in a city, or nearly any other environment, effective Jewish learning ...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.