Three Things to Know about Jim Joseph Foundation Grantmaking

Based in San Francisco, the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) is known for million dollar grants that support the Bay Area’s Jewish community and Jewish communities across the United States. Jewish education might seem like a pretty narrow grantmaking focus at first, but there’s a surprising amount of diversity in JJF grantees when you take a closer look. These are the top three things to know about JJF grantmaking.

It’s All About Jewish Education

Although JJF grantmaking is focused on Jewish education, this funder interprets the concept of education very broadly. One of the groups it's most conerned with is Jewish educators, which includes day and congregational school teachers, heads of schools, camp counselors and directors, pre-school teachers, family educators, parents, rabbis, and youth group workers.

The purpose of JJF’s Jewish learning funding priority is to increase the numbers of young people engaged in meaningful Jewish learning and creating and sustaining Jewish peer networks. Eligible nonprofit groups can be affiliated with a variety of Jewish-themed summer camps, day schools, youth groups, congregational educational, and other in- and out-of-school learning opportunities. These grants comprised roughly half of JJF grants in 2014.

Past Bay Area grantees include:

  • Kevah—up to $750,000 for three years to support Kevah's educators and growth in the number of Kevah groups for young adults in the Bay Area, Boston and Denver.
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum: Innovation Fund and Innovation Fund 2.0—up to $2,450,000 to support creative, cultural exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area, to engage youth and young adults, and further educate museum curators and Jewish educational practitioners from museums across the country.
  • Jewish Community Federation—up to $167,000 - CF-NEXT Birthright Experience Pilot.

The Bay Area Matters, but so Does the Rest of the U.S.

When JJF grantmaking began, its efforts comprised the metro areas of San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Back then, youth between the ages of 13 and 23 were the focus. However, JJF has expanded its reach and considers national initiatives for this age group and young adults up to age 30. But according to the foundation website, this funder “continues to look especially carefully at funding opportunities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.”

College Students are the Big Target

Although nonprofits that work with babies up to 30-year-olds are considered for grants, college students are a slightly higher priority for JJF right now, in terms of dollars. As of November 2014, $69.8 million went towards higher education programs, compared to $56.3 million for Jewish day/high schools. As of June 2014, JJF had helped 27,303 college age students (ages 18 to 22) find Jewish education, compared to 15,511 post-college young adults, 14,652 youth between ages six and 12, as well as 13,749 teenagers, and 6,853 children under the age of five. However, support for teen programs may be on the rise, based on activity in recent grant cycles.

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile of the Jim Joseph Foundation. The foundation updates its blog regularly, so check it out to stay in tune with what’s on the staff and board’s radar.