US fund’s investment in Jewish educator training pays off

Three major institutions produced an unprecedented number of graduate Jewish education degree and credentialed students and educator training programs.

October 30, 2016 01:55
1 minute read.
Experiential Jewish Education Network

The first gathering of the Experiential Jewish Education Network, which brings together graduates from programs of all three institutions of higher education for continued learning and support.. (photo credit: EXPERIENTIAL JEWISH EDUCATION NETWORK)

NEW YORK – After investing $45 million in training Jewish educators over the past six years, the Jim Joseph Foundation has managed to have a significant influence on the field’s workforce, according to an independent evaluation conducted by American Institutes for Research.

The landmark investment, known collectively as the Education Initiative, began in 2010 and was made to three major institutions: the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Yeshiva University.

According to the evaluation, these institutions have, thanks to the initiative, produced an unprecedented number of graduate Jewish education degree and credentialed students; new and better trained Jewish educators; educator professional career advancement; and 20 new educator training programs.

Between 2010 and 2016, the grant supported 1,508 individuals across the entire spectrum of Jewish education.

About one half of the beneficiaries were teachers and administrators in Jewish day schools, one fifth were directors of education in congregations, and one in 10 were youth program directors in Jewish community centers, youth groups or camps.

Among the goals accomplished by the foundation through its investment are the establishment of training programs for educators, an increased number of working educators and the development of infrastructure to sustain new educator programs.

“The Education Initiative significantly increased the number of Jewish educators and laid the foundation for new programs and approaches to train the next generation of Jewish educators and leaders,” Mark Schneider, vice president and institute fellow at American Institutes for Research, said. “There is much to be learned from this initiative, especially with regard to the importance of experiential learning for improving learning outcomes.”

Foundation executive director Chip Edelsberg noted that, “The 1,500 educators from these programs will influence Jewish life and learning for tens of thousands learners throughout their careers. Moreover, as the evaluation shows, the educators themselves experience a critical return on investment in the form of salary increase and job promotions.”

“The foundation is deeply grateful for the leadership, vision, and commitment to experimentation and collaboration of HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU,” Edelsberg added.

“It is a testament to their diligent work and institutional resolve that many of the initiative’s programs now are incorporated into core program offerings.”

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