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

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

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

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

Series of Final Reflections as Executive Director: A Concentrated Set of Priority Grants

By Chip Edelsberg on September 7th, 2016

One of the many privileges of having served as Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation has been ample opportunity to contribute to the field of Jewish education. In personal conversations; at convenings, forums and conferences; through the Foundation’s website and on this blog; and in various publications, I have shared information on lessons learned by the Foundation through its $436 million of philanthropic investments. I have also opined on trends in the broader fields of education and philanthropy, all in an effort to advance the field about which the Foundation and readers of this blog care so deeply. Over the next two months, as I step down from the position in which I have been privileged to serve, I want ...More

Summer months at the Foundation and the Future of Jewish education

By Chip Edelsberg on June 29th, 2016

Work at the Jim Joseph Foundation this summer will be highly concentrated, as it has been these past ten summers. Immediately following the Foundation Board meeting in mid-July, we will begin preparing for another meeting with the Board of Directors in early September. At the moment, it appears that as many as a half dozen major grant proposals will be reviewed by Directors at these two meetings. With transition occurring at both the professional and governance levels, active change management is necessary in order to seamlessly "hand off" responsibilities to the incoming President and CEO and new Directors. This activity adds a measure of complexity to the Foundation's otherwise routine grantmaking processes; we rely on colleagues and technical assistance experts to ...More

Welcoming in the Stranger, Along with Our Own

By Chip Edelsberg on April 15th, 2016

As Jews around the world soon sit down for Seders, we are reminded again of our tradition’s powerful message to welcome the stranger. Some heed this call year-round; others do it once a year; still others maybe never have, but commit to do so now. While we rightfully focus on this message, we also should remember to welcome in those in our community in meaningful, sustained ways. At the Jim Joseph Foundation, welcoming in others in our community is a core principle of our relational approach to grantmaking. Often this philanthropic approach is interpreted as grantmaking implemented with a funder and grantee coming together for a deep and meaningful relationship. While this relationship is a critical component of this strategy, it ...More

Stand and Deliver: Knowledge Sharing as a New Normal

By Chip Edelsberg on February 9th, 2016

As the Jim Joseph Foundation has evolved and matured in its first decade of existence, the professional team has gained invaluable experience. Within the past ten years, both as a means for individual staff to develop professionally and to help meet the Foundation’s strategic goal of contributing tangibly to building the field of Jewish education, Foundation professionals have actively sought opportunities to share insights and lessons learned both at conferences and gatherings. I am pleased to offer a snapshot of this activity below. At the Jewish Funders Network Conference in April, several members of the Foundation professional team will take part in panel sessions. Senior Program Officer Stacie Cherner will moderate a panel on how to “push evaluation to ...More

Why a Strong Beginning is Pivotal to a Grantmaker’s Success

By Jeff Tiell on January 19th, 2016

As a Jew, I have always had a somewhat confused relationship with New Year’s Day. It is the secular new year, where champagne flutes abound, and the year begins anew. Where folks make proclamations and resolutions about how they plan to change in the coming year. Indeed, there is a brief societal moment of reflection – where we’ve been, what has happened, who has passed on – that then quickly leads into the flurry of January. As a Jew, however, I find myself saying, didn’t I just do this a few months ago? Of course, the answer is yes, and yet given that we live in a secular, pluralistic society, there is a place in my head and heart to go ...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 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.