Grantmaking

We strive to identify grantee partners who are dedicated to achieving positive outcomes and whose efforts are closely aligned with the Foundation's mission and vision. We nurture and sustain deep relationships with these partners and like-minded funders.

The Foundation invests in initiatives, often through multi-year grants, that support Jewish learning experiences for young children and their families, youth, teens, college students, and young adults. In particular, the Foundation solicits grants designed for long-term, large-scale effectiveness and sustainability. The Foundation also invests in research and development to inform ongoing philanthropic practice and to contribute to learnings in the field.

In line with its original strategic priorities, the Foundation’s investments today are designed to influence two primary levers:

Our
Focus

1

Cultivate and support Jewish leaders and educators who are inspiring and know how to inspire others

Grow the number and diversity of Jewish leaders and educators who build organizations and learning environments that profoundly inspire others to engage in meaningful Jewish learning and activities, and make a positive difference in their communities and the world.

2

Cultivate and support Jewish learning and experiences that resonate as uniquely relevant for modern times

Deepen and expand the current work of the most forward-thinking organizations and leaders who inspire audiences of young people to explore in a serious way what being Jewish means to them. And, catalyze the development of modalities of Jewish learning and forms of Jewish expression that show promise to inspire future generations.

Signature Approaches

The Foundation’s approach to grantmaking includes:

  • Building the capacity of mission-aligned institutions. This involves providing grant support and technical assistance to the highest performing organizations whose work aligns with the Foundation’s mission. These investment offer significant, unrestricted, multi-year grants that strengthen grantee partners and expand their impact.
  • Focusing on systemic solutions. The Foundation provides ongoing support for organizations and initiatives that are achieving broad reaching, long-term impact. Examples include grants to national intermediaries, multi-community initiatives, network-building across organizations, and train-the-trainer models.
  • Relational grantmaking. Building trusting relationships with grantee partners, co-funders, and thought leaders is a central component of the Foundation’s approach.
  • Learning and evaluation. The Foundation invests in evaluation and research to help grantee partners, the Foundation, and its funding partners better understand what is working and how to improve, and to apply those learnings into our collective decision-making.

Jewish Learning

The nature of what defines effective and compelling Jewish learning experiences is continually evolving with the emergence of new approaches for learning, new forms of Jewish expression, and the rediscovery of Jewish traditions and teachings that resonate in modern times.

Young people are seeking meaning, authenticity, relevance, and substance. Learning designed to truly shape who they are as people requires a seriousness of purpose and an investment of time over days, weeks, months or longer. While some forms of effective and compelling Jewish learning can be self-guided, it most often occurs in community with others who they know and trust. Trained educators—whether professionals, volunteers, mentors or peers—generally play a central role in designing and facilitating these kinds of experiences.

Jewish learning occurs in many spaces and takes many forms: formal classroom settings; experiential settings like homes, camps, retreats, service and travel experiences; engagement with Jewish content and ideas through a range of media both online and offline; and through relationships and conversations with friends, family, teachers, role models and study partners.

What it means to live a vibrant, purposeful, connected and fulfilling life informed and inspired by Jewish learning is constantly evolving. But we know that it requires learners to draw their own connections between the wisdom of our past and the relevancy of the now. Jewish learning can offer guidance on answering the urgent challenges we face in our lives and our world.

We seek to inspire young people to shape for themselves what being Jewish means to them, and to help them integrate Jewish wisdom and practice with their other identities and interests.

Guiding Principles

Shortly after its founding, the Foundation developed a theory of change and strategic priorities to guide its grantmaking.

Theory of Change: Increase the number of young Jews who choose to engage in compelling and effective Jewish learning experiences

Theory of Change

Strategic Priority: Increase the Number and Quality of Jewish Educators and Education Leaders

Strategic Priority

Strategic Priority: Expand Opportunities for Effective Jewish Learning

Strategic Priority

Strategic Priority: Build a Strong Field for Jewish Education

Strategic Priority

Portfolio Analysis

To hold itself accountable, the Jim Joseph Foundation engages in ongoing conversations with its partners and independent evaluators about how to best measure achievement of targeted grant outcomes.

As a part of this work, the Foundation closely monitors how its investments are allocated across its strategic priorities and the different populations the Foundation seeks to serve. With significant assistance from our grantee partners, we also track the aggregate number and depth of intervention for the educators and young Jews who have benefited from these investments.

The Portfolio Analysis Chart summarizes this information.

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