From Our Blog

Professional Preparation: A “Value Add” for Educators and their Employers

By Yael Kidron on January 23rd, 2017

Editor's Note: In October 2016, the Jim Joseph Foundation released the final evaluation from American Institutes for Research on the Education Initiative--the $45 million, six year investment in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) for Jewish educator training. The Foundation and AIR shared some of the key findings and lessons learned from the Initiative. AIR also is releasing a series of blogs that delve more deeply into important findings from the evaluation--the second of which, below, discusses the value of professional preparation programs, and key characteristics that make those programs excellent.  Whether in a classroom, at a camp, at locations in a city, or nearly any other environment, effective Jewish learning ...More

Reflections on a Big Bet: The Education Initiative with HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU  

By Yael Kidron and Dawne Bear Novicoff on November 9th, 2016

When the Jim Joseph Foundation was founded in 2006, board members and other leaders in Jewish education held a series of meetings to determine a set of “strategic funding priorities.” While the foundation’s generous benefactor, Jim Joseph, z”l, ensured that Jewish education would be the sole focus of grant awards, he did not specify how the Foundation should pursue his vision. Ultimately, the Board identified three funding priorities, one of which is to increase the number and quality of Jewish educators and education leaders. This priority paved the way for the largest bet the Foundation has made to date—the recently completed $45 million, six year investment in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), The Jewish Theological Seminary ...More

Counting All Educators, and Learning as We Count

By Dawne Bear Novicoff on May 31st, 2016

In San Francisco, the school year is about to end. Teachers and children (mine included!) are counting down the final days to summer. In the Jewish calendar, we are counting, too, but upwards rather than down as we mark the days of the Omer. The end of the school year is a special time – one of marking accomplishments and celebration of learning. It is also a time to celebrate educators. We bring them gifts, make cards and take a moment to acknowledge their centrality to the process and cycle of learning. At the Jim Joseph Foundation we do this daily. Since the Foundation’s inception, educating Jewish educators has been the first of three Foundation strategic priorities. To date, ...More

A “Big Bet” Strategy: Large Grants for the Long-Term

By Chip Edelsberg on September 10th, 2015

The Jim Joseph Foundation is in its tenth year of existence. In a few weeks, we will share an online interactive timeline on the Foundation’s philanthropy, significant grantee outcomes, and lessons learned since its inception. The Foundation website will feature an insightful memoir on our founder thoughtfully crafted by Jim Joseph’s son and Foundation Board member, Josh Joseph. We will also share a microdocumentary on Mr. Joseph, his family history, and his lasting legacy. As we mark this tenth anniversary, the Foundation continues to be a work in progress. Striving for continuous improvement involves concentrated time and effort among Foundation Directors and professionals. The Board is conducting a search for my successor while also taking steps to plan for transition of ...More

Developing Dynamic Educators: Positive Results of the Education Initiative

By on October 28th, 2013

This past summer, more than 73,000 Jewish youth attended summer camp to see friends and have fun. At the same time, whether or not they were always aware, they engaged in experiential Jewish learning led by dynamic and inspiring educators. This immersive environment is indicative of our understanding that Jewish learning occurs in myriad ways in a variety of settings. However, whether at camp or school or anywhere else, effective Jewish learning is dependent on having equally as effective Jewish educators. How can teachers bring a relevant, accessible and modern Judaism to the classroom, the campus, the bunk and beyond?  How can they engage and inspire the “global citizens” who are the youth and young adults of today?  They need an ...More

Education Initiative and Our Day of Learning

By on April 11th, 2013

It has been a long time since I updated readers on the progress being made on the Jim Joseph Foundation-funded Education Initiative.  The Initiative consists of three major grants of $15 million each to support graduate programs of education at Hebrew Union College (HUC), Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU).  The implementation period for these grants is 2009-2016. Let me start with the numbers:

  • 528 students who have received Jewish education degrees or certification since Spring 2010
  • 419 students currently enrolled in degree and graduate programs of certification
  • 13 new degree and certification programs have been established
Before one jumps to any conclusion about supply and demand equations of Jewish educators, it is important to note that 225 (54%) students participating in these ...More

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.