From the Executive Director

A “Sneak Peak” of Lessons Learned to Share with the Field

By on February 4th, 2014

In the first few months of 2014, Jim Joseph Foundation grantees will share numerous evaluations and model documentations with the field. There are also several reports of field-wide import in which the Foundation has been involved in preparing that we anticipate will be released. We are excited to help disseminate these learnings, advance the conversation on effective Jewish education, and work with partners to create new Jewish learning opportunities.

But before that, I am pleased to share with you a “sneak peak” of these items that we hope will prove to be of value to you.

  • A model documentation report on the North Shore Teen Initiative will be released next month. This initiative appears to have changed the landscape of Jewish teen engagement in 23 cities and towns just north of Boston. The model documentation presents the strategies, challenges, and successes – from inception to date – with the field. Other communities throughout the country have already expressed interest in adapting it to increase Jewish opportunities for teens.
  • Another model documentation detailing the LA High School Affordability Initiative soon will be available online. This model demonstrates how the Foundation, BJE: Builders of Jewish Education, and five LA high schools worked together to address the challenges of middle income affordability, in part by creating endowments. This will be the Foundation’s second model documenting a day school initiative.
    Last year, we worked with San Francisco’s Jewish LearningWorks to document BASIS – the Israel Education Day School Project so that communities across the country can learn how Bay Area day schools effectively incorporated Israel education into their curriculum. The LA High School Affordability Initiative will be presented in a manner also conducive for other communities to learn about its key components and consider for adaptation.

Along with these model documentations, numerous evaluations will be completed throughout the first quarter, some offering insights as Foundation grants conclude, while others focus on the beginning stages of new opportunities:

  • Next month, we will widely share one such evaluation on the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Incubator I Specialty Camps. While readers of this column are familiar with the effective Jewish learning opportunities at Jewish camps, the report demonstrates that, critically, specialty camps attract new families to Jewish camp to engage in dynamic Jewish education experiences. These positive outcomes have led the Jim Joseph Foundation and The AVI CHAI Foundation to fund a second cohort of specialty camps set to open this summer.
  • With additional support from the Leichtag Family Foundation, Morningstar Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Schusterman Family Foundation and UJA-Federation of New York, we collaborated with Hazon on a study examining the emerging Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) space. We look forward to presenting this report at the upcoming Jewish Funders Network (JFN) conference and believe that its findings present new opportunities for interested funders.
  • In Israel education, the iCenter continues to be the national hub for supporting the field and sharing best practices in which a meaningful relationship with Israel is a core component of Jewish identities and Jewish journeys. See a recent iCenter report, Israel Education in Practice: Growth of the Field from the Educators’ Perspective, which details the core attributes of Israel educators and seeks to describe “Israel education at its best.”
  • I also am pleased to share a new video on Columbia University’s New Media in Jewish Studies Collaborative (NMJSC), which has cultivated a network of Jewish Studies professors to bring new media tools and digital storytelling into their teaching, student assignments and scholarship. Launched in 2012 by Columbia’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies and the digital storytelling nonprofit Citizen Film (with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation and an ignition grant awarded by the Covenant Foundation), the Collaborative helps leading Jewish Studies professors incubate new media projects around the U.S.

As we prepare for the publications and/or dissemination of these reports, we look forward to seeing colleagues at the JFN Conference in March. Jim Joseph Foundation professionals are eager to talk with you about a number of the grant initiatives in which we are deeply involved.

Sharing key learnings is a core component in each of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s three strategic grantmaking priorities: Increase the Number and Quality of Jewish Educators, Expand Opportunities for Effective Jewish Learning, and Build a Strong Field for Jewish Education. We are interested in hearing directly from you on the Foundation’s various field building efforts, particularly about those noted above. Please take the time to be in touch with us.

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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.