Jewish Community Federation Announces $1.75 Million Grant from Jim Joseph Foundation to Expand Jewish Education for Preschools in the Bay Area

San Francisco, CA – Today, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation) announced that its Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI) will receive a $1.75 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation for the Federation’s Jewish Resource Specialist Program (JRS), a program designed to deepen Jewish curricula at local schools, engage parents, and encourage families to choose Jewish education for themselves and their children. The 3-year pilot program, launched in 2011 at five Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE) sites in the Bay Area, has had significant success in engaging families in Jewish life during and after the preschool years. Thanks to the new grant, the Federation will expand the JRS program from 5 to 15 Jewish ECE sites in the Bay Area, broadening this hands-on Jewish learning program to include hundreds of local children.

"We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, which will triple the number of schools in the JRS program.  Under the umbrella of our ECEI program, more local schools will be resourced and supported to engage families in a vibrant Jewish communal life. The JRS program equips schools and teachers with the tools to deeply increase Jewish learning opportunities for families with young children,” says Sandy Edwards, associate director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “We are very excited to expand the program to more schools, and to help position schools to make the JRS program sustainable. Building on the learnings and success of the pilot phase, more schools will be able to offer families dynamic and meaningful Jewish life and learning experiences.”

- Jim Offel, Interim CEO of the Federation

The Jewish Resource Specialist program

The JRS program is a professional development program in Early Childhood Education for Jewish preschools. The pilot program is currently being implemented in five Bay Area schools: Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, Temple Sinai in Oakland, Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, Oshman Family JCC Preschool in Palo Alto, and Chai Preschool in Foster City.

Now in its third and final year of the pilot, the JRS program has become a central program of the Federation’s Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI), funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. 

The JRS model is built around an expert teacher who receives funding for an additional 10 hours per week in order to serve the entire school in implementing a Jewish curriculum, planning Jewish educational programs for families, and connecting parents to the broader Jewish community during and after the preschool years. The JRS teacher develops relationships at the school site, reaches out to fellow teachers and parents, and becomes a resource and connection to deepen Jewish learning.

Based on the success of the current pilot program, the Federation’s ECEI will expand the program to 10 additional schools in August 2014. In addition to the $1,754,044 grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Federation will contribute $512,370 over the next three years.

The JRS program expansion will draw on best practices and lessons learned from the pilot phase. In particular, the model includes:

  • A coaching and mentoring component, featuring individual onsite coaching sessions, community of practice meetings, and professional development.
  • Sharing of educational resources among the cohort of schools.
  • Support for each school to make the JRS program sustainable.

In the winter of Year 2, the curriculum will include a 10-day study trip to Israel in order to deepen the teachers’ personal relationship to Israel and Judaism, and to provide teachers tools to infuse their curriculum with relevant and compelling content.

The JRS program builds into its model a process by which schools develop their own capacity to maintain and extend the program. With an eye towards sustainability, JRS includes ongoing support from JRS faculty, who work with schools to develop site specific sustainability plans to ensure that the program continues after the three year formal JRS period.

“The Resource Specialist lives and breathes Judaism…They help me implement changes, and are instrumental in our Jewish curriculum.”

“JRS is a phenomenally supportive program. I have a wonderful relationship with JRS staff. They could not be more responsive or helpful.”

- Quotes from various teachers

“I appreciate the way we’ve deepened our understanding and observance of many traditions and holidays, particularly the ones I never celebrated as a child. Being involved in the school has allowed our family to make new connections in the Jewish community.”

- Parent

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

June 18, 2014


Ilan Kayatsky