New York University’s Dual Master’s and Doctoral Programs in Education and Jewish Studies

The doctoral and dual master’s programs in Education and Jewish Studies are a collaboration between the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (NYU). The Jim Joseph Foundation awarded a grant of $4.96 million to NYU during the period 2009–2015 to improve the infrastructure of the two programs and to attract outstanding prospective students (Jim Joseph Foundation fellows).

American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted an independent evaluation of this grant that assessed the extent to which the doctoral and dual master’s programs have provided what students need to become successful educators and educational leaders in Jewish education. This evaluation addressed three questions:

  1. According to fellows, to what extent did their programs promote applicable knowledge,
    attitudes, and networking?
  2. To what extent have fellows engaged in leadership roles in the field of Jewish education
    after graduation?
  3. To what extent do fellows attribute engaging in thought leadership to their doctoral and
    dual master’s programs?

Moving Jewish Educators to the Next Stage in Their Career: An Evaluation of New York University’s Dual Master’s and Doctoral Programs in Education and Jewish Studies

Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service; Repair the World

Repair the World (RTW) was founded in 2009 to make meaningful service a defining element of American Jewish life. It is the only organization devoted exclusively to mobilizing young Jews to volunteer in tackling pressing local needs. In fall 2013, Repair the World launched its signature program, Repair the World Communities, in four cities: Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. New York City was added, also as a pilot, in fall 2015, following a year of site development. In each of these communities, a full-time City Director oversees the program and its base of operations, known as “the Workshop.˝ Each City Director supports a cohort of fellows (ages 21-26) who make an eleven-month commitment to volunteer and study while they accomplish their core mission to recruit and engage Jewish young adults in volunteering and service-related activities. Communities focuses primarily on two causes that resonate with Jewish millennials— education and food justice—and uses volunteering as a way to engage with these issues.

Before launching Communities in 2013, Repair contracted an Independent Evaluation of the program’s impact to be performed at the end of 2015. This report shares the fresh results, informative to anyone working to engage young Jewish adults or to design meaningful service opportunities, such as:

  • Done right, service attracts large numbers of “unaffiliated” young adult Jews.
  • Service through a Jewish lens can be “sticky” and keep participants engaged.
  • Participants build new forms of Jewish communities around their service.
  • Service connects meaningfully to Jewish identity formation and Jewish values.

Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service – Repair the World Communities: Summary Report on the Independent Evaluation, March 2016

Jewish Resource Specialist Initiative, Early Childhood Education Initiative

The Jewish Resource Specialist (JRS) Initiative, designed in 2008 by the Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI) of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation), in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, positions the early childhood years as a gateway into Jewish life for children and their families. It is a response to several catalyzing factors. First, preschool is a critical time for young families. Children are eager to learn and are developing socially, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. For parents, at no other moment will they be so involved in their children’s schooling. They are also choosing how they spend their time and with whom they spend it. The JRS Initiative came about to leverage this unique time for families.

Second, the JRS Initiative also addresses the dearth of leaders working to build the field of Jewish early childhood education (ECE). Those who want to focus on Jewish ECE and build communities of engaged Jewish families with preschool-aged children are challenged to find the support, mentors and professional development opportunities they need to craft a career path. The JRS Initiative seeks to meet these field-wide demands by developing the skills and Jewish knowledge of the JRS educators who then bring ideas and guidance to their schools.

Enhancing Jewish Learning & Engagement in Preschool Life Executive Summary, January 2016

Enhancing Jewish Learning & Engagement in Preschool Life Full Model Documentation, January 2016

Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University: Education Initiative Year 4

Launched in 2010, the Education Initiative is a $45 million grant program to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU). The three institutions have each been awarded $15 million to support the field of Jewish education through the development and enhancement of advanced degree, leadership, and certificate programs; improvement of recruitment activities; and induction support to new teachers and education leaders. In all, the Education Initiative engaged more than 1,400 Jewish education professionals from 34 states and internationally, and supported 26 new and existing programs in three higher education institutions. More than 200 graduates are expected to complete full-time graduate degree programs and will fill open positions in the Jewish education workforce through this Initiative.

American Institutes for Research (AIR) examined the work and outcomes of the programs funded by the Education Initiative. This independent evaluation focuses on the five goals for the Education Initiative, three of which relate to educator preparation and support, and two to capacity building.

Education Initiative Year 4 Evaluation Report and Executive Summary
Education Initiative Year 3 Evaluation Report
Education Initiative Year 2 Evaluation Report
Education Initiative Year 1 Evaluation Report

HUC, JTS, and YU Education Initiative Grant Information

Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative Evaluation

Building on previous research, in 2014, Rose Community Foundation entered into a partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation to develop the Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative. The goal is to make greater Denver-Denver-Boulder area Jewish life relevant and meaningful to young people both now and later in their lives, with teens serving as active partners together with their peers, adults and community leaders in shaping their own Jewish journeys.

The Initiative has three objectives: to identify a few innovative Jewish teen programs and help them achieve incremental growth; to promote and support a shift in Jewish teen programming to models that intentionally foster adult-teen relationships; and to fund youth-initiated, youth-led programming that could connect and engage a wider circle of Jewish teens than those currently engaged in traditional Jewish youth programs. Initiative leaders believed with an infusion of funding and addition staff, a small group of grantees could move their vision forward. As the Initiative launched, the five key grantees—Jewish Student Connection (JSC), Moving Traditions (MT), Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative (BJTI), PresenTense Colorado (PT) and jHub—and the lead funders—Rose Community Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation—articulated a Theory of Change that specified the Initiative’s key strategies and target audiences.

From the start of working together, the Initiative leaders invested in evaluation in order to learn along the way about what works and what needs adjustment, and to document the impact of the Initiative overall. Informing Change was invited to evaluate the first three years of the Initiative.

During the Initiative’s first year, teen participants and their parents from the three grantee programs that were operational—JSC, Moving Traditions and BJTI—were invited to participate in a survey about their experiences in these programs and their involvement in Jewish life in their communities more broadly. Due to the low response rates, these baseline survey data should be viewed as illustrative rather than as representative in nature. However, the survey data provides insight into the teens’ experiences from two self-reported perspectives: teens and parents.

Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative Evaluation, November 2015
Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative Grant Information
Denver-Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative in the news

BBYO’s Professional Development Institute

In 2007, BBYO—the largest pluralistic Jewish teen movement in North America—launched an ambitious program called the BBYOProfessional Development Institute (PDI). The purpose of PDI was to increase the capacity and commitment of talented, early-career Jewish professionals to build a career in Jewish communal institutions. The hope was that PDI would not only help young professionals grow at BBYO and support the organization in engaging teens, but that they would also help create a workforce of highly-qualified professionals for the Jewish communal sector.

PDI assisted participants through a suite of supports and multiple program components. The Jim Joseph Foundation, PDI’s sole funder, underwrote the program with a grant of $7.5 million over seven years. Although the goals and outcomes of PDI are meant to be realized over 15 years—through 2023, as alumni move through their careers—the program activities were time-limited. A total of 35 people participated across PDI’s three cohorts, with the inaugural cohort beginning in 2008 and the final cohort completing all PDI requirements in 2015.

From the inception of PDI, Informing Change worked closely with the Jim Joseph Foundation and BBYO to assess the program. As the program neared its conclusion, the evaluation evolved to focus on post-graduate and longer-term PDI outcomes and lessons learned.

Cultivating Jewish Professionals: Cumulative Evaluation Findings from BBYO’s Professional Development Institute

Executive Summary of Cultivating Jewish Professionals

Strategies for Professional Development: Lessons from BBYO’s Professional Development Institute

Advancing Early-Stage Jewish Careers: Lessons from BBYO’s Professional Development Institute

Enhancing Capacity for Jewish Enrichment: An Evaluation of BBYO’s Directors of Jewish Enrichment Pilot

In 2012, BBYO, Inc. (BBYO) added three Directors of Jewish Enrichment (DJEs) to its field management structure. With professional backgrounds and graduate training as Jewish educators, these full-time employees were brought into the organization in an effort “to deepen the Jewish experiential learning offered to [BBYO’s] teen-led community and prepare Jewish teens for a lifetime of Jewish involvement.” The three DJEs are in place for a three year initial pilot project, from 2012 to 2015, with the understanding that a second cohort of three DJEs would be added, provided that the grant criteria for the pilot phase were achieved.

Growing out of a 2011 study of BBYO’s impact, the DJE Initiative is part of BBYO’s broader intentions to strengthen the potential for teens’ Jewish enrichment and deeper “meaningful Jewish experiences.” BBYO’s new Educational Framework, now called “Kivun,” was also developed in response to BBYO’s impact study. Kivun outlines BBYO’s goals for teens’ Jewish growth, outcomes related to those goals, and indicators of teens’ Jewish growth. The DJEs are meant to help BBYO implement this new Educational Framework in order to achieve the articulated goals.

Enhancing Capacity for Jewish Enrichment: An Evaluation of BBYO’s Directors of Jewish Enrichment Pilot, March 2015

BBYO DJE Grant Information

BBYO DJE Featured Grantee

Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way

In 2013, about a dozen funders from across the U.S. began meeting together to better understand how to develop and invest in local opportunities to educate and engage Jewish teens. Convened by the Jim Joseph Foundation, members of the group were already supporting teen programming but seeking ways to do it better in order to significantly expand teen involvement in active Jewish life. By the end of 2014, the group had developed into a Funder Collaborative in which at least half of the members were in the midst of or ready to begin grantmaking to support comprehensive, innovative and sustainable new community-based teen initiatives. Ultimately, the Collaborative hopes its work will reach beyond the initial participating communities, leading to adaptations of the pilot experiments in other communities across the country and in the offerings of national providers of Jewish teen education and engagement experiences.

Internally, the Funder Collaborative intends for this examination to help inform the ongoing growth and functioning of the group, which expects to continue until at least 2018. Externally, by documenting the lessons learned from this unique Funder Collaborative, they hope to inform future co-funding and shared learning efforts, both within and outside of the Jewish philanthropic community.

Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way, January 2015

Press Release on Finding New Paths

Jewish Resource Specialist, Early Childhood Education Initiative

JRS is a flagship initiative of the Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI) of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. The overarching goals of JRS are to deepen the overall Jewish experience in Bay Area Early Childhood Jewish Education (ECJE) institutions and support parents in making Jewish choices for their families while supporting the ongoing professionalization of the ECJE field.

JRS achieves its goals through hiring a seasoned preschool teacher to serve as a JRS educator in each site. Each JRS educator is compensated for an additional 10 hours per week and receives professional development and leadership training focused on Jewish learning and knowledge. Utilizing this additional time, knowledge and support, the JRS educators:

  • Plan and implement Jewish family engagement programming for JRS schools, and
  • Serve as in-house resources and mentors of Jewish education and pedagogic content within JRS schools.

JRS was designed as a demonstration project with intentions to replicate, adapt and/or scale. This three year pilot program launched in 2011 at five Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE) sites in the Bay Area. In June 2014, a new $1.75 million grant was allocated to expand the JRS program from 5 to 15 Jewish ECE sites in the Bay Area, broadening this hands-on Jewish learning program to include hundreds of local children, teachers and preschool parents.

Jewish Resource Specialist Year 3 Evaluation
Jewish Resource Specialist Year 2 Evaluation
Jewish Resource Specialist Year 1 Evaluation
Jewish Resource Specialist Grant Information

DeLeT: Graduates’ Perceptions of the Program and Their Preparedness for Teaching

The DeLeT program was established in 2002 in response to three decades of expansion in non-orthodox Jewish day schools. This created a demand for teachers prepared to teach in these new schools. In the 12 years since the program’s inception, DeLeT at Brandeis and HUC-JIR have prepared close to 200 teachers who are teaching across the nation in 18 states and more than 46 schools.

This report focuses on how DeLeT graduates from both programs perceive their preparedness for day school teaching, as well as how they perceive the DeLeT faculty and the programs’ strengths and weaknesses. It also examines similarities and differences between the two programs and offers possible explanations for the handful of differences identified. Such an in-depth examination of graduates’ perspectives provides valuable formative feedback to both programs. In addition, we anticipate that this report will be useful to funders and faculty at other Jewish teacher education programs who may be interested in using the evaluation tools and procedures we have developed to learn about their graduates and identify areas for program improvement.

DeLeT Graduates’ Perceptions of the Program and Their Preparedness for Teaching: An Evaluation Report, September 2014

Brandeis DeLet Grant Information and Program

HUC-JIR DeLeT Grant Information and Program

Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University; Education Initiative Year 3

Launched in 2010, the Education Initiative is a $45 million grant program to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU). The three institutions have each been awarded $15 million to support the field of Jewish education through the development and enhancement of advanced degree, leadership, and certificate programs; improvement of recruitment activities; and induction support to new teachers and education leaders. At the conclusion of the Education Initiative in 2015–16, more than 1,000 educators are expected to receive degrees or credentials in Jewish education with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation. More than 200 graduates are expected to complete full-time graduate degree programs and will fill open positions in the Jewish education workforce through this Initiative.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) Year 3 report is organized by the five goals of the Education Initiative and examines ten research questions that are aligned with these goals. These five goals are divided into two categories:

  1. educator and education leader preparation and support and
  2. capacity building.

Education Initiative Year 3 Evaluation Report
Education Initiative Year 2 Evaluation Report
Education Initiative Year 1 Evaluation Report
HUC, JTS, and YU Education Initiative Grant Information

North Shore Teen Initiative Model Documentation

Beginning with a Planning Grant in 2007, the North Shore Teen Initiative (NSTI) designed, developed, launched, and implemented community-based Jewish teen education and engagement in 23 towns and cities north of Boston. The Foundation supported efforts to transition NSTI to be sustained by local funding.

This model documentation details the evolution of the NSTI. By sharing all of the components of NSTI, along with some lessons learned along the way, we strive to help other communities adapt the model and implement their own teen Jewish engagement initiatives. The report includes the most critical components that have led to NSTI’s successes—important contextual and readiness factors, core methods and approaches, financial information, important personal and organizational relationships that supported implementation, challenges encountered, and stories from the field.

Each section covers a different area of the NSTI model at various stages of the initiative’s development. By breaking down the model into these components, communities will begin to understand if they are positioned to adapt this model—and, if so, how to implement it.

Building a Community of Jewish Teens: A Model Documentation of NSTI
North Shore Teen Initiative – March, 2013
North Shore Teen Initiative – September, 2011
North Shore Teen Initiative Grant Information
North Shore Teen Initiative Featured Grantee