Jim Joseph Foundation Awards Four New Grants to Support Digital Learning and Engagement

April 27th, 2017

Investments Designed to Build on Findings and Recommendations in Recent “Smart Money” Report

San Francisco, CA — On the heels of the recently released report Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy, commissioned in partnership with the William Davidson Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation announced four new grants to organizations that leverage digital technology to create and deepen Jewish learning opportunities. The grantees—BimBam, The Jewish Education Project, Let it Ripple, and 70 Faces Media—each were awarded $100,000 to experiment and expand on the work they are currently doing.

 “Smart Money is a call to action, and these investments with proven leaders and innovators in this space are one way we begin to answer that call,” says Barry Finestone, President and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “We are excited to work with these partners and to give them space to experiment and to leverage their creativity and talent. Bringing education technology and digital engagement tools into focus will unlock some of the untapped potential of Jewish education.”

Compiled by Lewis J. Bernstein and Associates, Smart Money offers a series of recommendations for funders to consider in this space, including the suggestion to invest in “small-scale ‘Innovation Grants’” and to “take risks” and “experiment.”

“BimBam (formerly G-dcast) was founded on the belief that digital was the next frontier in Jewish education,” says Jordan Gill, BimBam’s Managing Director. “We are honored to be one of Jim Joseph Foundation’s initial digital content partners, and we look forward to working closely with them to maximize the impact of their current and future investments in this space.”

 “The Jim Joseph Foundation is offering such fantastic support,” says Tiffany Shlain, Filmmaker, CEO of Let it Ripple and founder of The Webby Awards.Our most creative breakthroughs and expansion in scope come with these grants that are open to experimentation.”

Details of the new educational technology and digital engagement grants:

BimBam – $100,000 over one year for capacity support as it expands efforts to raise Jewish literacy by giving people opportunities, from childhood through adulthood, to use Jewish values, customs and rituals as a blueprint for becoming better and more involved citizens of the Jewish community, and the world. This grant will support its two popular video series: 1) Shaboom! helps children ages 3 to 8 learn about Jewish values and how to apply them in their everyday life; and 2) Judaism 101 in a simple and non-judgmental way, provides a baseline understanding of Jewish rituals and traditions and helps decrease discomfort as an obstacle for young adults looking to connect.

The Jewish Education Project – $100,000 over one year to expand the DigitalJLearning Network through a new initiative, Tech for Learning. Tech for Learning will enhance learning at Jewish middle and high schools in the Tri-State area through increased utilization of Ed Tech. The grant will support The Jewish Education Project’s year-long cohort-based training and coaching program for teams of 3-4 educators from ten Jewish schools. Participants will learn about and experiment with piloting new educational technology tools and practices in their classrooms.

 Let It Ripple – $100,000 over one year to expand on plans to cultivate young Jews’ interest in exploring character development through a Jewish lens. The grant will support increased partnerships with Jewish schools, congregations and JCCs to screen award-winning filmmaker Tiffany Shlain’s Making of a Mensch on Character Day 2017 (September 13) and ongoing use of the Character (Every) Day mobile app and online tools designed to support daily self-guided Jewish learning and character development.

70 Faces Media – $100,000 over one year to deepen learning and engagement by connecting people to compelling multi-media Jewish content and to one another through its digital brands which include My Jewish Learning, Kveller, and Alma (launching soon). The grant will support 70 Faces Media’s continuing experiments to cultivate virtual online communities, as well as new video, podcasting, and social media pilot projects.

“The Jewish Education Project is thrilled to be a part of this new cohort of Jim Joseph grantees, supporting digital engagement and the expansion of educational technology in the Jewish sphere,” says Robert Sherman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project. “With the generous support and partnership of The AVI CHAI Foundation, The Jewish Education Project created the DigitalJLearning Network six years ago. Since that time, our educators have developed a clear perspective on the needs of the field. We’re excited to collaborate with new philanthropic and programmatic partners to expand the reach and deepen the impact of digital engagement and educational technology in Jewish schools.”

“We are honored and excited to be working with the Jim Joseph Foundation and its other partners to pioneer and strengthen new digital strategies,” said Ami Eden, CEO and Executive Editor of 70 Faces Media. “By working together and learning from each other, we will dramatically enhance our collective efforts to empower people to explore their Jewish identity and develop meaningful communities.”

All of the grantees already have achieved measurable learner outcomes and serve one or more of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s target audiences: teens, college students, young adults and families with young children (ages 0-5). Their work also complements educational technology and digital engagement projects the Foundation currently supports directly and indirectly through investments in BBYO, Facing History and Ourselves, Hillel, iCenter, Mechon Hadar, Pardes, PJ Library, Reboot, Sefaria, Reut Institute, and the Yiddish Book Center.