From Our Blog

A Funder-Grantee Partnership for Program Evaluation: How a Small Experiment Yielded a Mighty Partnership

By Anna Kernus, Roey Kruvi, and Rachel Halevi on August 15th, 2017

In 2015, Moishe House (MH) began implementing a new pilot program designed to explore a model for engagement. Premised on peer-led retreats, Jewish young adults attend a weekend training called Retreatology: The Art of Jewish Retreat Making. Following their training, they then facilitate their own Jewish learning retreat—grounded in Jewish learning, Jewish values, and personal interests—for a group of their peers. MH provides facilitators with a mentor and a grant for up to $5,000 to create an immersive learning experience to assist in the planning and execution. MH and the Jim Joseph Foundation, one of MH’s major funders, recognized the program merited a more substantive evaluation than just the standard feedback survey, but MH lacked the capacity to hire an external ...More

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

Seeing is Believing: Moishe House Ignite Retreat

By Rachel Halevi on September 1st, 2016

Growing up in a Jewish home, engaging with various Jewish organizations, living in Israel, and working at a Jewish foundation have allowed me to feel connected to Judaism and the Jewish Community. Participating in the Moishe House Ignite Retreat, a retreat designed to gather, connect, and develop Jewish young adult leaders, challenged this sense of connection and reignited my passion for Judaism and the work I do every day as a staff member of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Some of my fondest memories as a young Jew were Shabbat services at URJ Camp Newman, so I was excited to participate in a Shabbat celebration as one of the first activities of the retreat.  To my surprise, I did not ...More

What “Ask a Funder” Says About the Foundation’s Grantmaking Strategy

By Jeff Tiell on October 23rd, 2015

Towards the end of the summer, I had the privilege to attend Moishe House’s National Conference and Alumni Leadership Summit at Camp Chi in the Wisconsin Dells. The National Conference brings together more than 200 current Moishe House residents for three days of engaging and interactive learning and social activities. As the name suggests, the Alumni Leadership Summit is a gathering of about 20 former residents of houses looking to continue their involvement in Moishe House and connect with their peers. Truly, the alumni there represented the geographic diversity of Moishe House. Residents hailed from Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Baltimore, Shanghai, Palo Alto, and Hoboken, among elsewhere. An interesting and challenging element of Moishe House’s alumni engagement ...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

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

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

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.