Source: Jim Joseph Foundation
The Jim Joseph Foundation created the Education Initiative to increase the number of educators and educational leaders who are prepared to design and implement high-quality Jewish education programs. The Foundation granted $45 million to three premier Jewish higher education institutions--Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU)--(each institution received $15 million) and challenged them to plan and implement programs that used new content and teaching approaches to increase the number of highly qualified Jewish educators serving the field.
The grant covered program operation costs as well as other costs associated with institutional capacity building. The majority of the funds (75 percent) targeted program planning and operation. The grantees designed and piloted six new master’s degree and doctoral degree programs or concentrations; eight new certificate, leadership, and professional development programs; two new induction programs; and four new seminars within the degree programs. The Education Initiative also supported financial assistance for students in eight other advanced degree programs. The grantees piloted innovative teaching models and expanded their use of educational technology in the degree and professional development programs.
As with nearly every major Foundation grant, independent evaluation was built into the grant from the outset. Annually, American Institutes for Research (AIR) provided the Foundation with a comprehensive evaluation of nearly every aspect of the Initiative – number of program enrollees and their experience in the workplace; how the institutions were working together; progress on programs achieving sustainability; and more. Now, with the final evaluation, recently completed, we believe the field has much to learn from the Foundation’s and grant partners’ experience with this investment.
Based on these findings and other results summarized in the final evaluation report, it is not surprising that the Education Initiative successfully advanced professionals on the career ladder. Within a very short time interval – up to one year from program completion – one third of the degree program participants and nearly 10 percent of the professional development programs participants advanced to Jewish education leadership positions.
These educators, and those who follow them in Education Initiative programs, will continue to influence Jewish education. Together, HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU, took unprecedented steps – and risks – that have genuinely changed the landscape of the field. The learners who engage in Jewish education, in its variety of settings and through countless experiences, are the ultimate beneficiaries of these advancements.