From Our Blog

Making Sense: Reflecting on Evaluations at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Stacie Cherner on August 16th, 2017

A core part of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s relational approach to grantmaking is supporting grantees to evaluate their programs—either through engaging an external evaluator or by collecting and analyzing data internally.  The Foundation has always believed this is good grantmaking; it builds the capacity of organizations to ask questions, to collect data, and to reflect on findings in a way that then enables changes to be made to increase success. In this period of transition at the Foundation, the grantmaking team has asked some pertinent questions regarding our evaluation program: “What are we learning from the evaluation work we have supported over the past eleven years?” and “Are there common lessons and emerging themes that we ...More

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

Questions for Funders – Nurturing an Ecosystem to Embrace Technological Advances for Jewish Education

By Jarred Myers and Nicky Newfield on July 12th, 2017

This is part 6 of the series in eJewishPhilanthropy, Continuing Conversations on Leveraging Educational Technology to Advance Jewish Learning. The series is a project of Jewish Funders Network, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation. For an in-depth look at opportunities in Jewish Ed Tech and digital engagement, read Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy. Later this year, Jewish Funders Network will launch a new website to help advance the field of Jewish educational technology. Educational Technology (EdTech) is a burgeoning field that has made significant progress in recent years. Our Jewish Education systems are slowly and steadily adapting to this and we are witnessing the emergence ...More

Scale-Up Nation

By Jarred Myers and Nicky Newfield on July 5th, 2017

This is part 5 of the series in eJewishPhilanthropy, Continuing Conversations on Leveraging Educational Technology to Advance Jewish Learning. The series is a project of Jewish Funders Network, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation. For an in-depth look at opportunities in Jewish Ed Tech and digital engagement, read Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy. Later this year, Jewish Funders Network will launch a new website to help advance the field of Jewish educational technology. Are basic literacyJewish culture and Judaic values still adequate to enable Jews to change the world?

Photo by Teddy Kelley ...More

A Crash Course on Releasing an RFP

By Barry Finestone on June 27th, 2017

Just before Passover this year, the Jim Joseph Foundation released two open Request for Proposals (RFP)—one addressed Educator Professional Development (PD); the other addressed Leadership Development. This marked the first time the Foundation embarked on this process, and is another new development among a year of changes for the Foundation. Designing, releasing, and reviewing Letters of Interest (LOI)—we recently contacted the 146 organizations that submitted LOIs to let them know if they were selected as finalists—has been inspiring, challenging, and ripe with learnings both for the Foundation and, we believe, the field. While we clearly are still in the midst of this process, here’s a quick take on some interesting observations. What we see in the field:

  • Newsflash! Lots of different ...More

A History of the “Future of Jewish Education”

By Russel Neiss on June 13th, 2017

This is part 2 of the series in eJewishPhilanthropy, Continuing Conversations on Leveraging Educational Technology to Advance Jewish Learning. The series is a project of Jewish Funders Network, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation. For an in-depth look at opportunities in Jewish Ed Tech and digital engagement, read Smart Money: Recommendations for an Educational Technology and Digital Engagement Investment Strategy. Later this year, Jewish Funders Network will launch a new website to help advance the field of Jewish educational technology. In 1911, William Inglis, writing for Harper’s Weekly profiled Thomas Edison’s latest invention that he guaranteed would, “make school so attractive that a big army with swords and guns couldn’t keep boys ...More

Are we investing in the same people twice? Spoiler Alert – the answer is “Yes!”

By Steven Green on May 17th, 2017

A common question in philanthropy is whether there is double counting of the number of beneficiaries a funder’s grant dollars serves. Often, by asking this question, there is an implicit bias that reaching the same individuals more often than a single intervention is not a desired outcome. Why is this question relevant to the Jim Joseph Foundation? On a cursory level, approximately 18% of the active grants in our portfolio provide Jewish education and engagement opportunities to youth and families with young children [age 2-12]; 39% to teens [age 13-17]; 22% to college-age students [age 18-22]; and 21% to post-college [age 18-35]. The same individual could be a PJ Library recipient, then a BBYO member, then a Hillel-engaged student, then ...More

Making the most of technology in Jewish education

By Lewis J. Bernstein and Shira Ackerman on May 10th, 2017

You’ve seen the advertisements: A fit young woman pedals a stationary bicycle while an instructor on a video screen shouts encouragement. The company, Peloton, promises “fitness at your fingertips,” and both “live and on demand” spin classes and “world class instructors,” all from the comfort of your own home. What does a stationary bike company have to do with Jewish education? We believe that Judaism, a 4,000-year-old endeavor, has something important and timeless to say about building character and values; about dignity, persistence and survival skills; about humor, art and joy — all necessary attributes to build that better future. And we believe that media and technology have a place in this process to engage, model and teach. An Israeli ...More

Launching an Investment Strategy in Jewish Educational Leadership

By Seth Linden on April 25th, 2017

How might the Jewish world create, nurture and develop the next generation of Jewish education leaders? The professional staff and board at the Jim Joseph Foundation for the last 18 months have closely explored this question—drawing on 11 years of experience investing in Jewish educators, in Jewish learning experiences for youth, and in building the field of Jewish education to inform our answer. Through this exploration, we have gained an understanding that  supporting talented leaders is mission-aligned with supporting effective Jewish educators and helping to build the field in which they work. Specifically, investing in current and future leaders in Jewish education organizations is a leveraged strategy to achieve the Foundation’s broader mission. Many are now familiar with the ...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

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.