Mechon Hadar Receives its Largest Grant Ever to Expand Work with Jewish Community

January 31st, 2017

$2.15 million investment from the Jim Joseph Foundation will support Programs and Priorities in Hadar’s Strategic Plan

New York – Celebrating its tenth year empowering Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service, Mechon Hadar has received a $2.15 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation—the largest gift in Hadar’s history. The four year grant will support the programs and priorities outlined in Hadar’s recent Strategic Plan, helping Hadar to double the number of participants in its programs and to greatly expand its work with the Jewish community both in the United States and Israel. The grant requires additional investment of $1 million matching funds—either new or increased gifts—and designates a portion of the funds to external evaluation.

“Mechon Hadar welcomes the opportunity to again partner with the Jim Joseph Foundation to act on the strategies we identified in our intensive strategic planning,” said Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, President and CEO of Mechon Hadar. “We are more excited than ever about our focused direction coming out of this planning process, and very much look forward to deepening and broadening our impact over the coming years.”

Founded in 2007 with an eight week summer program for 18 students, Hadar has emerged as a leader in the field of Jewish education and community building. There are more than 500 alumni of its year-long and summer intensive learning programs, and over 1500 alumni of its week-long immersive programs. Hadar’s online presence has skyrocketed, with over 1.6 million downloads of classes, podcasts and music in the past two years. With support from over 25 national foundations and over 1,000 individual donors, Hadar has a growing and increasingly balanced revenue base, and is now poised for the next stage of its growth.

“Mechon Hadar worked very closely with consultants to develop its four-year strategic and business plan that charts a course—in part through matching grants it now seeks—of continued growth and expansion,” adds Barry Finestone, President and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “Now, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary, Mechon Hadar is poised to expand its offerings, to engage even more learners, and to create vibrant communities centered on meaningful Jewish life and our sacred texts. We are excited to see this valued partner go from strength to greater strength.”

With support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, Hadar’s now-completed first formal strategic plan was guided by the TCC Group over an eight month period, in which dozens of internal and external stakeholders, staff, alumni, and partners in the field were engaged. Hadar emerged with three programmatic goals to be achieved over the next four years:

  • Strengthen and expand Hadar’s immersive experiences, which will double the number of participants in Hadar’s year-long, summer and week-long programs, see the creation of new programs, and partner with institutions outside of New York to bring the Hadar experience to Jews around the country;
  • Support communities across the U.S. and Israel that are dedicated to Hadar’s vision. This will include increased investment in the leadership potential of Hadar alumni, wherever they live, as well as intentional partnerships with leaders and institutions (both grassroots and established) in numerous communities; and
  • Invest in the creation and dissemination of innovative, compelling and relevant Jewish content, including the publication of books and articles, the creation of new music, and a larger online presence of videos, classes and podcasts.

Collectively, pursuing these goals will guide Hadar to influence diverse audiences by offering a vision of Judaism that is uncompromisingly honest, spiritually meaningful and socially responsible.