From Our Blog

Internal Exploration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Jeff Tiell on February 6th, 2017

How do we as Jews authentically tell our stories to others and ourselves? How do we as Jews bring the relevance and meaning of Judaism—whatever that may mean to you—in our lives? How do we as Jews show up? These are just a few of the questions I have been asking myself, sometimes more explicitly, sometimes less, over the last few years. The noted novelist and writer, Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” The answers to some of these questions have come to me in the form of practice and process; and in both personal and professional ways. Personally, I was privileged to attend my first Moishe House Meditation Retreat in Southern ...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

From Strength to Greater Strength: How Capacity Building Grants Elevate Organizations

By Chip Edelsberg on February 19th, 2015

In the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to identify and analyze best grantmaking strategies, we have seen grantees achieve outcomes that both strengthen organizational capacity and position organizations for future growth. By virtue of grantees’ strong performance, the Foundation is gaining experience as a capacity building funder. Before I share examples of successes, it is helpful to understand what a capacity building grant actually is designed to do. The term itself is somewhat general and may refer to different types of grants, depending on the context and situation of the potential grantee. Capacity building, broadly defined, refers to “activities that strengthen nonprofits so that they can better achieve their mission.”[1]  Tools exist to help organizations assess their capacity.[2]  Organizations at ...More

Shared Measurement Tools for Jewish Education: Could It Happen?

By Josh Miller on October 14th, 2014

Within Jewish tradition, an appreciation for the importance of shared measurement tools dates back to biblical times. In Deuteronomy 25:15 the Torah teaches: “a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be lengthened on the land…” There are many reasons why it is valuable to have and to honor our universal systems for measurement. These fundamental tools enable us to describe what we observe, compare like items, and draw conclusions from these comparisons. And yet, despite the implicit value of shared measures, the process of developing such tools is not always simple. The Challenge of Establishing Shared Measurement in Jewish Education In the field of Jewish education, establishing universal measures to assess learning outcomes is particularly challenging. Within ...More

Keeping it together: The power of alumni networks

By on August 26th, 2013

A compelling education experience offers participants more than the opportunity to learn. We often see how participants – whether on a ten day trip to Israel or within a two-year classroom setting – grow together and connect in unique ways through the shared experience. But what about once the program or initiative ends? If we are truly concerned with long-term positive outcomes, it makes sense to leverage that newfound, often deep connection among a cohort. To this end, the Jim Joseph Foundation has developed an alumni network component as part of some grants, while other grants are designed for the sole purposes of creating such networks. A strong network of alumni does much more than result in financial contributions to the program. After all, ...More

No Summer Break for Jewish Learning

By on July 8th, 2013

Summer is upon us.  For some, the season brings a reduced work load and a much needed respite from a demanding schedule.  But for literally thousands of beneficiaries of Jim Joseph Foundation funding support, these few summer months are suffused with the ruach of living in an immersive Jewish environment, intensive Jewish study, and powerful peer learning experiences. Most obvious to readers of this column is the fact that summer Jewish residential camping imbues youth and camp staff with Jewish memories that often last a life time.  In 2013, five Jim Joseph Foundation funded Jewish specialty camps will host an estimated 1400 campers guided by approximately 226 counselors.  These camps emerged out of a masterly crafted Foundation for Jewish Camp Specialty ...More

When Jewish Learning Meets Social Networks: A 21st Century Approach to Education

By on November 21st, 2012

Over recent decades, demographic reports on Jewish life have indicated declining numbers of young Jews choosing to opt into Jewish life. This phenomenon is especially notable among teens, college students and twenty-somethings. In response to these concerning trends, Jewish innovators across the country have developed a wide array of new programs and initiatives targeting these age cohorts. For those funders interested in supporting efforts with the potential to reverse the demographic trends, a persistent challenge is to identify strategies that provide both breadth and depth. At the Jim Joseph Foundation, we are following the progress of a number of efforts designed to address this very issue. Three specific models – implemented by Hillel, Moishe House, and Jewish Student Connection (formerly Jewish ...More

Jewish Education “in a Café, Under a Tree, or in a Dorm”

By on October 23rd, 2012

In some ways, newly hired educators Jordan Magidson, Jessica Shimberg, and Zac Johnson each fit the expected profile for a Jewish educator. Magidson, who started work as a Nadiv Educator at URJ Camp Kalsman and Temple de Hirsch Sinai, completed a Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Rabbi Shimberg, currently Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning at University of Maryland Hillel, received rabbinic ordination at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Johnson, currently a Director of Jewish Enrichment in BBYO’s Western regions, is an alumnus of the Shalom Hartman Institute and Yeshivat Hadar’s summer program. But these educators’ traditional credentials belie changes occurring in the training and hiring of experiential Jewish educators. Since evaluation has demonstrated the ...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.