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Enhancing Jewish Learning & Engagement in Preschool Life: Documenting the JRS Model

January 1, 2016

The Jewish Resource Specialist (JRS) Initiative, designed in 2008 by the Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI) of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation), in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, positions the early childhood years as a gateway into Jewish life for children and their families. It is a response to several catalyzing factors. First, preschool is a critical time for young families. Children are eager to learn and are developing socially, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. For parents, at no other moment will they be so involved in their children's schooling. They are also choosing how they spend their time and with whom they spend it. The JRS Initiative came about to leverage this unique time for families.Second, the JRS Initiative also addresses the dearth of leaders working to build the field of Jewish early childhood education (ECE). Those who want to focus on Jewish ECE and build communities of engaged Jewish families with preschool-aged children are challenged to find the support, mentors and professional development opportunities they need to craft a career path. The JRS Initiative seeks to meet these field-wide demands by developing the skills and Jewish knowledge of the JRS educators who then bring ideas and guidance to their schools.

Awarding Innovation: An Assessment of the Digital Media and Learning Competition

September 1, 2014

Increasing availability and accessibility of digital media have changed the ways in which young people learn, socialize, play, and engage in civic life. Seeking to understand how learning environments and institutions should transform to respond to these changes, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (the Foundation) launched the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Initiative in 2005. This report highlights the successes and challenges of one component of the DML Initiative: the DML Competition (the Competition).

The Jewish Resource Specialist Program Year 3 Evaluation Findings

August 1, 2014

This report presents the final cumulative evaluation findings for the Jewish Resource Specialist Program (JRS) over the three years of the JRS pilot, including key achievements and challenges. The evaluation assesses the JRS program overall—as a model—and not individual sites.This evaluation addresses the following two distinct evaluation questions:1. How, and to what extent, are families at JRS schools increasing their engagement in Jewish life and learning within JRS schools and in the community? 2. How, and to what extent, is JRS deepening Jewish learning within the JRS school environment? This evaluation also seeks to document the growth and change of JRS across the three years, providing insights into aspects of the program best poised for replication and scale.

New Jewish Specialty Camps: From Idea to realIty

February 1, 2014

Informing Change's evaluation of the Incubator and its camps from 2009 to 2013 addressed five questions, which examined whether and how:1. The new camps had expanded available opportunities for Jewish youth to attend camp 2. The new camps had positively influenced camper attitudes and behaviors about living a Jewish life and broadened their networks of Jewish peers 3. The new camps had developed into sustainable and effective nonprofit camp organizations 4. The Incubator method was an effective strategy for developing and supporting new nonprofit Jewish camps 5. The different specialty camp models met the Jim Joseph Foundation's goals for the IncubatorThe evaluation focused on the cohort of camps as a whole and their aggregate results, rather than evaluating each camp individually. Informing Change provided annual results on camp growth and development to the individual camps as well as support to the camps when interpreting their results and comparing against the aggregate. Each year, the evaluation applied a mixedmethods approach to data collection, which included interviews, surveys, secondary data, observations and organizational capacity assessments. Evaluators surveyed campers both before and after camp; parent surveys were administered after campers had been home from camp for 9 to 11 months.