From Our Blog

The Give and Take of Philanthropy: Investing in Planning              

By Steven Green on December 15th, 2015

There is a great disparity between the nonprofit organizations that provide services ranging from hunger relief to the arts, and the traditionally slower-to-act philanthropic foundations that fund them. During my time in the nonprofit world, I have grown to appreciate that both sectors have valid reasons for operating at the pace at which they are comfortable. As a ubiquitous example, disease and famine plague populations indigenous to third world countries. The longer we delay sending resources, the more suffering will occur. While on its surface this example seems to be an argument for the “hare” approach—the fastest acting organizations deliver resources immediately to those in need—it also makes a case for the “tortoise” approach, which includes more diligent planning towards ...More

Building a Network for Experiential Jewish Education

By Rachel Meytin on November 17th, 2015

Throughout the Gathering, I was aware of what a privilege it is, as an educator, to immerse myself in a focused space of ideas and learning, removed from the day-to-day elements of my professional role. I am very grateful for this gift. —Erica Frankel, Director of Strategy for the Jewish Learning Fellowship at Hillel International, graduate of Yeshiva University Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education
In late October 2015, 45 experiential Jewish educators came to the Kaplan Mitchell Retreat and Conference Center at Ramah Darom, in Clayton, Georgia, to learn, to reflect, and to form a network for experiential Jewish educators. This inaugural retreat launched a new collaborative initiative funded through the Jim Joseph Foundation’s Education Initiative—the combined $45 million grant to three ...More

At the Heart of Jewish Education

By Chip Edelsberg on November 16th, 2015

One of the genuine privileges of working at the Jim Joseph Foundation is the opportunity to see the evolution of Jewish education—from changes that start as ideas and theories, to eventual on-the-ground learning experiences shaping Jewish journeys of our youngest community members. I routinely comment that nothing substitutes for leaving the Foundation’s office, watching talented grantees carry out this important work, and seeing contemporary Jewish education in action. Particularly special moments are when Foundation team members ourselves engage in these learning experiences. Certainly over the last few years an exciting development in our field has been the growth and increased sophistication of the Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) movement. Along with other funding partners, the Jim Joseph Foundation has ...More

The Enjoyably Unexpected “Ah-Ha” Moments of Site Visits

By Aaron Saxe on November 2nd, 2015

Leaving the confines of the Jim Joseph Foundation offices for an on-the-ground visit with grantees is both an important and genuinely enjoyable part of the job as a program officer. I credit these “site visits” for playing a significant part in my continued growth at the Foundation over the last six months. They have strengthened my relationship with grantees and greatly improved my understanding of a grant program or organization in which the Foundation invested. Yet, the lessons learned from a site visit are not always immediately obvious or what one might expect. Sometimes this learning occurs in surprising ways and at surprising times. Moreover, what has crystalized for me is the idea that both the formal and informal parts of site ...More

What “Ask a Funder” Says About the Foundation’s Grantmaking Strategy

By Jeff Tiell on October 23rd, 2015

Towards the end of the summer, I had the privilege to attend Moishe House’s National Conference and Alumni Leadership Summit at Camp Chi in the Wisconsin Dells. The National Conference brings together more than 200 current Moishe House residents for three days of engaging and interactive learning and social activities. As the name suggests, the Alumni Leadership Summit is a gathering of about 20 former residents of houses looking to continue their involvement in Moishe House and connect with their peers. Truly, the alumni there represented the geographic diversity of Moishe House. Residents hailed from Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Baltimore, Shanghai, Palo Alto, and Hoboken, among elsewhere. An interesting and challenging element of Moishe House’s alumni engagement ...More

An Initial Ten Years of Grantmaking: The Life and Legacy of Jim Joseph

By Chip Edelsberg on October 22nd, 2015

As we head into the final months of 2015, the Jim Joseph Foundation prepares to complete its tenth year of grantmaking. During this decade, the Foundation has been fortunate to partner with grantees, an array of talented technical assistance professionals, and like-minded funders. The relationships we have developed made it possible to translate strategic planning in the Board room to on-the-ground initiatives and programs that create and support robust Jewish learning experiences. We regard ten years of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking to be a milestone. While the Foundation has drawn little attention to this, earlier this year the Foundation approved preparation of a special package of ten-year anniversary materials to develop and share with the field. I’m honored to unveil those ...More

Bringing Parents Along – A key to Life Centered Education

By Steven Green and Zelig Golden on September 24th, 2015

“When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.[1]” This finding from a 2002 study affirmed a philosophy already held by many that guided significant national education policy and programs. Head Start, a program endorsed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, incorporated a family component[2]. Today, the idea is widely accepted that parental involvement in students’ educational pursuits provides lasting benefits for the students. Disparate competing programs such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top[3] incorporate this idea as a cornerstone. While parental involvement in secular learning is almost a given, this has not been ...More

A Different Kind of Risk-Taking: Improving Evaluation Practice at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Cindy Reich on September 16th, 2015

A version of this blog originally ran in Philanthropy News Digest “We’re in the business of risk-taking,” is a frequent refrain of Chip Edelsberg, Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Generally speaking, Edelsberg’s notion of risk-taking refers to the investments the Foundation makes in its grantees and their programs. The Jim Joseph Foundation is a foundation with assets in the range of $1 billion whose mission is to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning experiences for young Jews.  Between 2006 and June, 2014, the Foundation granted over $300 million to increase the number and quality of Jewish educators, to expand opportunities for Jewish learning, and to build a strong field for Jewish learning (Jim Joseph Foundation, 2014). Rarely ...More

A “Big Bet” Strategy: Large Grants for the Long-Term

By Chip Edelsberg on September 10th, 2015

The Jim Joseph Foundation is in its tenth year of existence. In a few weeks, we will share an online interactive timeline on the Foundation’s philanthropy, significant grantee outcomes, and lessons learned since its inception. The Foundation website will feature an insightful memoir on our founder thoughtfully crafted by Jim Joseph’s son and Foundation Board member, Josh Joseph. We will also share a microdocumentary on Mr. Joseph, his family history, and his lasting legacy. As we mark this tenth anniversary, the Foundation continues to be a work in progress. Striving for continuous improvement involves concentrated time and effort among Foundation Directors and professionals. The Board is conducting a search for my successor while also taking steps to plan for transition of ...More

What We Learned During Our Time in Israel – Part 2  

By Professional Team on September 3rd, 2015

Editor’s Note: As we shared previously, the Jim Joseph Foundation Board and professional team traveled to Israel this summer for a week of special immersion activities and our regular quarterly board meeting. Conducting a Board meeting in Israel was part of the Foundation’s ten-year anniversary and an important opportunity for the Foundation to pay respect to Jim Joseph, z”l. Upon returning, each member of the professional team was asked to share reflections on their time in Israel and visits with grantees. Sharing excerpts with you, we believe, offers insights to the field about the place of Israel in the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy; the knowledge gained from site visits; and the benefits of Board and staff engaging in an immersive experience together. Below ...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.