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The Jim Joseph Foundation Professional Development Initiative, A Picture of Learning Coming Together: Year 3 Learnings

December 30, 2020

The Jim Joseph Foundation Professional Development Initiative has taken place over the past three years on a series of registers: first, for the more than 400 educators who participated in the various program cohorts managed by 10 program providers; then, for each of the organizations who led those programs, and especially for the program directors who themselves made up a cohort of their own; and finally for the broader field of Jewish education for which this collective effort has constituted a grand, even unprecedented, experiment. The Rosov Consulting team has tried to ensure that our evaluation work gave attention to each of these different strata, while also considering their intersections. Gathering data about the participating educators and what they gained from the programs while both facilitating and assessing the Professional Learning Community made up of the program directors, we have been able to observe at different orders of magnitudethe structures (the program elements) that underpin powerful professional learning whatever the context. 

Cross-Community Evaluation Findings 2019: for the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative

July 1, 2020

Four years into this collective effort to aggregate and analyze data of communities in the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, we are beginning to yield some findings that are consistent year-over-year—and actionable. This report presents the findings of evaluation work completed during the 2018–2019 program year and homes in on those findings most ripe for appreciation and action.There is a strong correlation between teens' connection to Jewish values and and the influence those values have on the livesteens choose to lead. Substantive Jewish content creates a sense of belonging, a desire to do good in the world, and a platformfor teens to build friendships—these peer relationships also contribute to strong Jewish outcomes overall. Importantly, the report concludes with recommendations applicable beyond the 10 community-based teen initiatives, informing any organization committed to effective teen programs, professional development for youth professionals, and affordability of programs for parents.The report draws from a variety of sources to offer a snapshot of a moment in time, and evaluation alone cannot provide the full picture of tectonic shifts occurring on the ground in these 10 communities. Extremely complex efforts involving stakeholders, implementers, and the communities are making lasting and positive changes to the culture impacting teen engagement.We encourage you to read the complementary case studies documenting the work, along with previous reports, all found onthe Learnings page of 

Signs Along the Way: A Funder Collaborative Assesses Its Influence

June 16, 2020

When the Funder Collaborative committed to documenting its processes and productsover the course of its multi-year investment, it was taking a stand on behalf of building the field of teen engagement through shared learning. It was also taking a risk. Would the field be built upon shared successes along with shared failures? Would it honor the hard work of all its grantee partners? Would transparency prompt commitment to this work beyond the 10 communities or would it prove too daunting to undertake? This risk taking ethos and a commitment to sharing its learning has remained a constant, and this case study is a tangible result. Since 2015, there have been two case studies documenting this work (Informing Change, 2015; Rosov Consulting, 2017). The trajectory of these cases loosely follows the phases of a Funder Collaborative—Discovery, Action, Impact—as described in Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better, issued by the Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center in 2013 (see top of page 6 for a graphic depiction).This case study is being prepared for publication as much of the world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The story we tell here captures a time before each of the communities pivoted to ensure that their work on behalf of teens can continue to be meaningful even as the usual tools for connection are having to be reimagined. The Funder Collaborative communities are finding that their relationship-building work on the ground to date has been critical.

GenZ Now: Understanding and Connecting With Jewish Teens Today

May 14, 2019

This study is animated by the vision that all Jewish teens in America will see their Jewish heritage as a source of wisdom, inspiration, and strength as they grow and discover their place in the world.We are excited to share with you data from 17,576 Jewish teens between the ages of 13 to 19 who took the time to share with us who they are and how being Jewish matters to them through participating in a national survey. Over 800 of these teens also wrote comments about how they think about being Jewish. Additionally, our understanding was augmented by in-depth interviews with over 30 Jewish teens.We began this project more than four years ago by talking directly with Jewish teens. In a series of focus groups, we invited teens to speak with us about what it meant to them to be Jewish, what they think of their Jewish activities, who they are now and who they want to be, the kind of world they want to live in, and the role they want to play in making that world a reality. These conversations with 139 Jewish teens led to the creation of the GenNow outcomes, published in 2016 as Generation Now: Understanding and Engaging Today's Teens, which framed the current study you will learn about in this report.As we learned from our 2016 study, Jewish teens today want to form meaningful relationships with others, understand where they fit into the world, and be active participants in shaping a better future. As they seek greater independence, they still look to trusted adults for guidance and structure. The questions in our survey were designed to measure aspects of the GenNow outcomes, taking into account what Jewish teens say they need to grow and develop into their best selves. The 14 outcomes relate not only to more traditional Jewish communal concerns like Israel and Jewish peoplehood (which Jewish teens do think about) but also to how Jewish activities deepen friendships, expose teens to provocative new ideas, and equip teens to be changemakers in the world.The term "Generation Now" reminds us that Jewish adolescents should be treated as a generation with the capacity to bring about personal, communal, and global change, not only in the distant future as the adults they might grow up to be but also as the teens they are now. Importantly, our research is not framed around a "deficit-model." It won't tell you what's wrong with American Jewish teens.We are not interested in measuring teens against normative checklists that dictate what a good Jew should do or feel. Rather we operate from a framework of thriving, which considers what conditions people need for optimal development. Thriving is not about seeking simple personal gratification; thriving is about deepening connections, fostering well-being, and developing a capacity to give back. These are all things teens want for themselves. This study helps us understand how Jewish teens see their Jewish activities helping them grow in the directions in which they tell us they want to go.This study was designed primarily to learn about teens who have participated in Jewish youth-serving organizations; as such, we collaborated with 14 organizations representing diverse ideologies and approaches to Jewish life in the United States today. Our findings also give professionals and other stakeholders who work with Jewish teens in other settings new insights into the work they do and how it matters. Rather than only being able to measure how many teens show up for an activity, Jewish professionals can begin to consider opportunities for their programs to enable teens to flourish. The 14 outcomes are meant to help guide and inform awide range of professionals who work with Jewish teens. Organizations will choose to emphasize some more than others.We begin this report by sharing findings that are specific to the work Jewish youthserving organizations (YSOs) do with teens. We then shift to reflecting on what we have learned about the Jewish teens in our study more broadly

Preparing to Deepen Action: A Funder Collaborative Finds its Way

June 20, 2017

The formation of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative was the result of a process begun by the Jim Joseph Foundation in 2013. At that time, in an effort to spawn innovative, locally sustainable teen engagement programs, the Jim Joseph Foundation brought together an array of funders to explore various approaches. The first 24 months of this deliberate process in which ten local and five national funders undertook to educate themselves, build relationships and co-invest in community-based Jewish teen education and engagement initiatives was thoughtfully documented in a case study issued in January 2015 by Informing Change, entitled, Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way.The first case study highlighted several important achievements of the collaborative in its early years:* Strong leadership from the convening funder which enabled old and new colleagues to engage in open discussions about possible collaborations;* Early commitment of significant financial resources;* Provision of operational and substantive support by an array of consultants;* Development of mutual expectations and articulating shared measures of success.This case study by Rosov Consulting documents the next stage of the Funder Collaborative's development, roughly the 21-month period from January 2015 through October 2016 and reflects the Collaborative's commitment to share its process with others who may choose to embark on their own co-funding endeavor.