Announcing Federation Forward

San Francisco, CA – The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation) is pleased to announce that, on December 17, its Board of Directors endorsed a new path for the future – “Federation Forward.” The plan is the first step in creating a new road map to achieve the greatest possible impact within the Bay Area Jewish community. To make it happen, the Federation will collaborate with its 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,” said Danny Grossman, CEO of the Federation. “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.”

“Our goal is to inspire meaningful Jewish engagement within our community, and to welcome people of all backgrounds to the richness of Jewish life,” said Tom Kasten, Chair of the Federation’s Board of Directors.

The plan includes:

A New Impact Goal: doubling engagement in local Jewish life (within 10 years) by working with 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,” noted Danny Grossman. “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.”

In addition to its other impact work, the Federation is launching three new initiatives that leverage its unique role as a convener, funder, catalyst, and coordinator within our community – initiatives that would very likely not be accomplished without its involvement:

  1. Community Study: a Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities
    As a first step, the Federation is 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 the larger goal and future initiatives. The process is expected to conclude in 2017-2018.
  2. 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 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
    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.

The Federation’s Strategies for Success:

  • Deepening partnership with local organizations, donors, philanthropists, donors and others.
  • Transparency in its 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 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
  • The Federation will continue to pursue our goals of strategically Caring for the Vulnerable, Inspiring Jewish Life and Learning, and Strengthening Israeli Society
  • The Federation will continue to serve as the local center for Jewish philanthropy, as the hub for Jewish philanthropists to connect, learn and amplify their impact.    
The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund connects people of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives to the power of the Jewish community to improve the world. We partner with donors, organizations, and foundations to address pressing issues facing our community, and develop innovative strategies that result in deep and lasting impact locally, in Israel, and around the world. Learn more at

For immediate release

January 05, 2016


Ilan Kayatsky