Addressing Communal Challenges

Addressing Unmet Needs

We're leading the effort to address complex challenges in the community through Federation programs and initiatives.

In addition to the work we do in making grants and building the capacity of our community partners, we have also collaboratively developed a number of initiatives and internal programs that tackle problems and address gaps of service in our Jewish community.

Our issue-based initiatives and programs, carried out in partnership with community organizations and funders, derive from extensive research and needs assessments performed within the Bay Area Jewish community.

Under our larger goal of seeking to increase Jewish engagement within our Jewish community, two major areas that we've identified locally as fundamental challenges are: affordability and access. Specific barriers prevent youths, families and seniors from engaging or fully participating in Jewish cultural, spiritual, social, and communal life. Much of our work has developed to meet this very central need.

Helping Jews explore and connect with the rich diversity of Jewish life. Broadening and deepening Jewish engagement.

  • Community Study: a Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities
    As a first step, we are conducting a comprehensive study to assess community needs, demographics, and key aspects of Jewish life, literacy and engagement. The result will be an important baseline for our larger goal – and future initiatives – as we move forward. The process is expected to conclude in 2017-2018.
  • The Campus Initiative on Israel Engagement
    As part of the Federation’s goal of nurturing meaningful attachment to Israel in the face of the de-legitimization movement, and of fostering positive Jewish engagement, it is partnering with Hillel International, the East Bay and Silicon Valley federations, and 8 local Hillels across Northern California to provide a counterweight to the increasingly anti-Israel climate on campuses. With the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel gaining momentum, Jewish students often find themselves feeling alienated by the rhetoric, tensions and hostility around Israel, and many turn away from the offerings of Jewish life and community on campus. This initiative will direct and grow positive Israel engagement opportunities for students on campus, created through a customized and grassroots approach.
  • Engaging Young Families in Jewish Life
    With membership costs, tuition and program fees that reach into many thousands of dollars each year, more than half of Jewish households in the Bay Area lack the means to participate fully in the organized Jewish community. The Affordability Project provides more than $1 million in need-based scholarships to children and teens for meaningful Jewish experiences, including Jewish preschool, day school, summer camp, and teen Israel trips.
  • Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative
    The Federation's Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative (ECFEI) focuses on engaging Bay Area Jewish families with young children in meaningful Jewish life and community, as well as promoting excellence in the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE). A key premise of the initiative is that preschool years are among the most important for children and their families for learning and joining community, and are indeed a major gateway to Jewish life. The ECFEI includes PJ Library® of the San Francisco Region – free monthly delivery of Jewish books and music to children aged 6 months to 8 years; the Jewish Resource Specialists (JRS) program – mentoring and coaching for Jewish early childhood educators to deepen Jewish learning for teachers, children, and parents both in and out of the classroom; the NextGen Jewish ECE Internship Program – an extensive onboarding program for new professionals to the field, that focuses on establishing best practices in Jewish early childhood education and family engagement; "Reshet" (Hebrew word for "a network") – a program for Jewish family engagement professionals to deepen their Jewish learning and family engagement expertise while connecting the cohort and the families they work with to the larger Jewish community; professional development for educators; advocacy for fair compensation for ECE educators; and other areas.
  • Teen Engagement Initiative
    The Federation has launched a planning process, in collaboration with local community partners, to develop and pilot a teen engagement initiative beginning in the North and South Peninsula – and later expanding to other regions – as part of an effort to significantly increase teen engagement in Jewish education and communal life. The Federation is one of 10 communities selected by the Jim Joseph Foundation to design a major teen engagement initiative, which will be eligible for a one-to-one matching grant over a five-year period.
  • Birthright Experience
    The Federation is a proud supporter and financial sponsor of Birthright Israel. Each year, we send eight buses of 40 participants each on a special Bay Area community trip, staffed with local educators and mentors who can connect participants to Bay Area Jewish life upon their return. The Federation has vibrant post-trip programming for alumni, so that their Birthright experience doesn’t end when they come home.

Partnering with agencies to support our community members’ physical, emotional and economic well-being.

  • Helping Seniors be Healthy and Happy
    Helping agencies locally and globally provide vital health care services, meals, and financial assistance to seniors in need; transportation programs to enhance seniors' mobility; supporting assisted living facilities for seniors; and, funding social programs that keep our elderly active and connected.
  • Supporting Children with Special Needs and their Families
    Building an inclusive Jewish community by partnering with community organizations (including Jewish LearningWorks, Friendship Circle, and Congregation Ner Shalom) to expand the capacity of Jewish organizations to welcome and include more than 9,000 Bay Area children with special needs and their families in Jewish life.