Today’s Federation is More than Grantmaking

Innovative Partnerships, Bolder Leadership, and Strategic Impact

There is an old story about a son who asks his not particularly religious father why he still goes to synagogue every Saturday. “People go for their own reasons,” the father said. “My friend goes to be close to God. I go to be close to my friend.”

There’s a contemporary wisdom in that old story: it’s not enough just to belong to something. We need to belong on our own terms – in ways that are meaningful to us. We need to belong in order to thrive.

Belonging on our own terms

Recognizing that personal connections, shared identity and common purpose are powerful forces for providing meaning in our lives, our Federation has evolved its approach to our work – pairing fundraising and grantmaking with a model of partnership, Jewish engagement, and community building. With the goal of creating deep and lasting impact, we’re continuing to implement our strategic roadmap – Federation Forward – to double Jewish engagement in the Bay Area in the coming years and guide us to our vision of a flourishing Jewish community that is a force for good locally, in Israel, and around the world.

More than ever before, we’re a complex, diverse, and dynamic landscape of innovators, builders, providers, educators, funders and thinkers. Our role and unique value stem from a combination of our history, experience, and a holistic perspective on the needs and strengths of the entire community.

And the next step begins with a better understanding of our community

Accordingly, we launched an innovative community study: A Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities. Set to be released in early 2018, the Portrait is a comprehensive assessment of community needs, demographics, and key aspects of Jewish life, literacy, and engagement. It will inform and advance the work of the Bay Area’s broad array of Jewish institutions, philanthropists, innovators, and activists in creating vibrant, diverse, inclusive, and secure community for years to come.

Once we have data from the Portrait, we will begin a robust communal process of interpreting, planning and strategizing anew – creating initiatives and programs, problem solving, seizing opportunities, and working in partnership to direct grants at where they are most needed.

Some early examples of our new strategic implementation direction include:

The Affordability Taskforce directly addresses one of the harshest realities facing just about everyone that works and lives in the Bay Area – our astronomic cost of living. While this issue affects us all, it is particularly daunting to millennials who aspire to work for local Jewish nonprofits but simply can’t afford it.

Thanks to a $1.9 million, three-year grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Federation’s Family Engagement Initiative will expand the capacity of Jewish preschools to serve as gateways to Jewish life, supporting Jewish educators and strengthening Jewish engagement.

Our Jenerator program assembles pro bono experts from diverse industries to help our nonprofit partners explore and generate earned income to achieve greater financial sustainability.

The Federation’s Program Officer Liaison team offers our partners a single point-of-contact to help them access resources and opportunities that they might not have known existed. Liaisons serve as partners in problem solving, capacity building, and connecting to the broader community.

A cornerstone of the Federation’s new approach is the concept of Community Building. True communities provide meaning and purpose in people’s lives, connecting us to something greater than ourselves. Community building applies intentional practices and mindsets to knit people together through Jewish experiences that cultivate deeper social networks. It goes well beyond participation in events and activities, giving people common purpose and identity in which each member feels a sense of attachment, ownership, belonging, and responsibility for the whole.

Categories: Community


December 12, 2017


Jon Moskin