Announcing Federation Forward

Our Federation is thrilled to announce that, on December 17, our Board of Directors endorsed a new path for the future – “Federation Forward.” This overarching plan is the first step in creating a new road map to achieve the greatest possible impact within our Bay Area Jewish community. To make it happen, we will collaborate with our agency and synagogue partners, donors, and community leaders, with the common vision of a flourishing Jewish community imbued with the richness of Jewish tradition.

We believe that there is inherent and deep value to Jewish life. We strive for a creative, diverse, welcoming, and active Jewish community with thriving institutions, cultural and spiritual entrepreneurs, and many ways to access Jewish life and community.

As we are at the beginning of this new journey, we haven’t yet finalized the formula for success, but here’s where we plan to take our first steps:

A New Impact Goal: doubling engagement in local Jewish life (within 10 years) by working with our partners to expand opportunities for Jews to access Jewish life and learning in order to lead richer lives and to create a better world.

Today, only a small minority of Bay Area Jews are affiliated with synagogues, organizations, schools, camps, activities, or other Jewish programs. We know that the answer to the question “Why be Jewish?” has changed profoundly from previous generations. Fear of survival is no longer a motivation for many younger Jews, and their freedom to identify – or not identify – as Jews has become the new paradigm.

We seek to inspire meaningful Jewish engagement within our community, and to welcome people of all backgrounds to the richness of Jewish life.

As such, in addition to our other impact work, we’re launching three new initiatives that leverage the Federation’s unique role as a convener, funder, catalyst, and coordinator within our community – initiatives that would very likely not be accomplished without our involvement:

  1. 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.
  2. Campus Initiative on Israel Engagement
    As part of our goal of nurturing meaningful attachment to Israel in the face of the de-legitimization movement, and of fostering positive Jewish engagement, the Federation is partnering with Hillel International, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay and the Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, 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. The Federation’s role as the convener of this important collaboration with Hillels, funders, and other critical partners speaks directly to the Federation’s specific role and strength within the community.
  3. Teen Engagement Initiative
    We have 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. We are 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.

Strategies for Success: partnership, transparency, and strategic grantmaking

In an effort to be the most effective organization we can be, to prioritize limited resources most efficiently, to honor the current philanthropic goals of donors, and to approach the Federation’s role from a holistic perspective, the Federation will make several key changes and improvements, including:

  • Deepening partnership with local organizations, donors, philanthropists, and others, which is the bedrock upon which all of our work is built.
  • Transparency in our goals, strategies, and work.
  • Strategic grantmaking, shifting from a traditional legacy allocation model of grants (providing funds to organizations ongoingly) in favor of a strategic partnership model (based on criteria in support of larger goals). This process has been underway for several years and will take effect formally on July 1, 2016. This inclusive view of community needs seeks to maximize philanthropy and impact for the entire Jewish community.
  • Holistic support available to our partners will include:
    • Strategic grants, including Endowment grants (capital, seed and innovation, emergency), impact grant initiatives, and other sources.
    • Capacity building (pro bono consulting, Synagogue-Federation partnership, etc).
    • Stewarding Donor Advised Funds, Supporting Foundations and Restricted Funds
  • We will continue to pursue our goals of strategically Caring for the Vulnerable, Inspiring Jewish Life and Learning, and Strengthening Israeli Society
  • We will continue to serve as the local center for Jewish philanthropy, as the hub for Jewish philanthropists to connect, learn and amplify their impact.
Categories: Community


January 05, 2016