SF Jewish Community Federation Receives $1.75m. to Expand Jewish Education for Preschools

The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation) 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. The new grant will allow the Federation to 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.

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.