From Our Blog

From Grant Funding to Sustainability, Life After “Start-Up”

By Adam Smith on August 8th, 2017

In 2009, Jewish Teen Initiative – Boston (JTI), then known as the North Shore Teen Initiative (NSTI), launched in the 23 cities and towns just north of Boston as an innovative, first-of-its-kind program aimed at addressing the alarming trend of teens disconnecting from their Jewish faith and community after Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Now, a little more than eight years later, JTI has become a national model for Jewish teen engagement, with lessons learned being adapted in communities around the country. Created and launched in partnership, and with 100 percent grant funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation, JTI is now independent and building a path toward sustainability – with bumps, bruises and ultimately valuable lessons learned along the way. ...More

Adidas & Ascots: Effective Leadership Comes in Many Styles

By Dawne Bear Novicoff on March 22nd, 2017

Since November, I have been consumed with the stories of one of the most dramatic and confusing leadership transitions in our country’s history—filled with sordid tales and accusations of wiretaps and secret alliances.  Just days before President Trump assumed his place in the White House, we at the Jim Joseph Foundation experienced our own leadership transition as founding Executive Director Chip Edelsberg stepped down after 11 years of service. Unlike the staffers in the white house, we did not have to pack up our boxes and vacate the premises prior to moving day for the new administration.  Rather, my colleagues at the Foundation and I sat in the front seat and watched closely as the 18-month transition unfolded and came ...More

Introducing “Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy”

By Kari Alterman and Josh Miller on March 15th, 2017

In just a few days, Jewish philanthropists, foundation professionals and communal leaders will join together in Atlanta at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) 2017 conference. We will learn, question, and explore a range of topics of import to our collective work.  For our foundations—the Jim Joseph Foundation and William Davidson Foundation—JFN 2017 will provide a special opportunity to share and discuss just-released findings from Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy, a new report based on research conducted by Lewis J. Bernstein and Associates this past year. Our foundations chose to commission this study to address a core set of questions that feel pertinent in a world where technology has become such a ...More

Mitigating Risk of a Risky Grant

By Aaron Saxe on February 21st, 2017

“It’s an incubator. All of it is a risk.” – Michele Friedman, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Director of New Camp Initiatives When the Jim Joseph Foundation made a $10 million grant to the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) in 2007 to launch the Specialty Camp Incubator, the field of Jewish camping was in a vastly different place than it is today. Jewish specialty camping was in its infancy, with only a smattering of specialty programs embedded in traditional Jewish overnight camps. While incubators were becoming a popular method to kick-start new ventures both in and out of the Jewish world, incubating a cohort of new camps was new to the field of camping writ large, let alone ...More

A Year Unlike Any Other

By Chip Edelsberg on January 5th, 2016

2016 is unlike any other year at the Jim Joseph Foundation since I began working with Board Chair Al Levitt and the entire Board of Directors to build the organization that Jim Joseph, z”l, bestowed and envisioned. A schedule that calls for four of the Foundation’s Directors who were at the Board table a decade ago to rotate off the Board is now in effect. Dr. Susan Folkman concludes her dedicated service this first week of 2016. Dr. Folkman will be followed this year by Jerry Somers and Phyllis Cook, respectively (following the Foundation’s second and fourth 2016 Board meetings), each completing multiple terms as a founding Director. In addition to Directors’ departures, this is my final year as the Foundation’s ...More

The Give and Take of Philanthropy: Investing in Planning              

By Steven Green on December 15th, 2015

There is a great disparity between the nonprofit organizations that provide services ranging from hunger relief to the arts, and the traditionally slower-to-act philanthropic foundations that fund them. During my time in the nonprofit world, I have grown to appreciate that both sectors have valid reasons for operating at the pace at which they are comfortable. As a ubiquitous example, disease and famine plague populations indigenous to third world countries. The longer we delay sending resources, the more suffering will occur. While on its surface this example seems to be an argument for the “hare” approach—the fastest acting organizations deliver resources immediately to those in need—it also makes a case for the “tortoise” approach, which includes more diligent planning towards ...More

An Initial Ten Years of Grantmaking: The Life and Legacy of Jim Joseph

By Chip Edelsberg on October 22nd, 2015

As we head into the final months of 2015, the Jim Joseph Foundation prepares to complete its tenth year of grantmaking. During this decade, the Foundation has been fortunate to partner with grantees, an array of talented technical assistance professionals, and like-minded funders. The relationships we have developed made it possible to translate strategic planning in the Board room to on-the-ground initiatives and programs that create and support robust Jewish learning experiences. We regard ten years of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking to be a milestone. While the Foundation has drawn little attention to this, earlier this year the Foundation approved preparation of a special package of ten-year anniversary materials to develop and share with the field. I’m honored to unveil those ...More

Israel and Philanthropic Inspiration

By Chip Edelsberg on July 8th, 2015

"Israel" Say the word in a gathering of almost any diverse group of Jews, and the room divides. “Israel" Write the word for almost any Jewish audience of readers—as I have done here—and expect that each individual immediately conjures up a passel of highly personalized associations and passionate opinions about political matters. Proceed with caution and make no assumptions as an author that there is agreement on what Israel means to your readers. That in mind, the Jim Joseph Foundation Board of Directors and professional staff recently returned from a week in Israel that included special immersion activities and our regular quarterly board meeting. Israel embraced us with her people and landscapes, language and culture. For whatever differences of opinions exist among the Directors ...More

Reflections from Sandy Edwards, Jim Joseph Foundation Associate Director

By Sandy Edwards on June 18th, 2015

Editor's Note: Later this month, Foundation Associate Director Sandy Edwards will leave the position she has held since 2006. She will remain involved in Jewish education and philanthropy through consulting and volunteering efforts. Below are reflections from Sandy on her time at the Jim Joseph Foundation working with grantees, other funders, and stakeholders in the field. Ten years can at once seem like a long time and go by in an instant. As I reflect back on my ten years at the Jim Joseph Foundation, I am flooded with memories about where the Foundation and the field were in 2005—and where we now are today. When I joined the Foundation, nothing was in place. No infrastructure for disbursing grants. No methods for ...More

My First Pesach at the Jim Joseph Foundation: Reflections from a Program Associate

By Jeff Tiell on April 13th, 2015

For all Jews worldwide, it recently was Pesach. What did it mean to you? To me, every year, it means reflection on two questions emanating from the same root: Am I free and Are we free? The “we” meaning my family, my friends, my communities (Jewish and otherwise), my city, our society, our world. These questions could be unpacked in a host of different ways, discussed, argued, and contested. After all, that’s the point right? For me, these questions held special significance this Pesach because I asked them as a recent hire of the Jim Joseph Foundation. At the end of January I began my job as Program Associate at the Foundation. The Program Associate role is a new one for ...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.