Keeping It Together: The Power of Alumni Networks

Aug. 26, 2013

Source: Jim Joseph Foundation Blog


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 in order to leverage newfound deep connections among cohorts of successful Jewish educational programs.


A strong network of alumni does much more than result in financial contributions to the program. After all, alumni can help to “keep alive” the learning experience and provide opportunities for the individuals to continue to share knowledge and best practices.


The success of the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project (PEASP), the alumni network of the Pardes Educators Program (PEP), shows the value of these efforts. PEASP offers newer teachers basic induction support during their first three years, while providing veteran teachers the opportunities they seek to step into roles as “teacher leaders” in their schools and across the field. The ongoing support contributes to an 84 percent retention rate among PEP graduates in Jewish education.


While the Pardes alumni network builds off of a long-term program, other networks target individuals from much shorter experiences. NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, for example, works to help participants turn the ten day trips into a lifelong Jewish journey. NEXT understands the power of connecting young Jewish adults to communities and to each other to experience meaningful Jewish living and learning opportunities. The trip has become just the starting point for an alumni network now 279,000 strong in the United States alone and represents incredible engagement potential.


These examples of alumni networks show how the collective Jewish community benefits from this investment, even if the members of an alumni network are the most direct beneficiaries. More Jewish engagement and learning opportunities create more vibrant Jewish communities. And from the Foundation’s perspective, we have seen how alumni of one program move on to another. From Birthright to Hillel. From Hillel to Repair the World. From Repair to Moishe House.


While this sequence is unique for every individual and program series, being a part of an alumni network increases the chances that these people will stay engaged and continue to grow Jewishly. Equally as important, when alumni from one program find their next Jewish education program, they have a network with which to share it – and potentially with which to experience it.


Jewish learning and engagement continues even after a program concludes. By supporting and providing infrastructure for alumni networks, we are making an investment that offers a return. Better teachers. More engaged Jews. Creative Jewish ideas. When opportunities are presented, the Foundation will continue to build strong and long-lasting networks.


Read more at the Jim Joseph Foundation Blog

Updated: Aug. 30, 2013