Independent Evaluation of the Jim Joseph Foundation's Education Initiative Final Report

by Mark Schneider; Yael Kidron

Sep 1, 2016

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 Jim Joseph Foundation granted $45 million to three premier Jewish higher education institutions (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 three grantees were Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU). 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;1 eight new certificate, leadership, and professional development programs;2 two new induction programs;3 and four new seminars within the degree programs. 4 The Education Initiative also supported financial assistance for students in eight other advanced degree programs. 5 The grantees piloted innovative teaching models and expanded their use of educational technology in the degree and professional development programs. According to the theory of change that drives the Jim Joseph Foundation's Education Initiative, five types of activities must take place if higher education institutions are to successfully enhance the Jewish education workforce. These activities include (1) improved marketing and recruitment of talented individuals into ongoing education programs, (2) a richer menu of programs requiring different commitments of time to complete and offering varying content, (3) induction programs to support program participants' transition to new employment settings, (4) well-planned and comprehensive strategies for financial sustainability, and (5) interinstitutional collaboration. As shown in Exhibit 1, the five types of activities are divided into two primary categories. The first category (boxes outlined in green) addresses the delivery of programs that provide educators and educational leaders with research-based and theory-based knowledge and vetted instructional tools. The second category (boxes outlined in orange) is not programmatic; rather, it involves sharing knowledge, building staff capabilities, enhancing management structures, and providing technological and financial support to enable the development of quality programming that is sustainable after the grant ends.

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