Dec. 1 Webinar: Live Participant Case on Building Peer Networks, with Adene Sacks from the Jim Joseph Foundation

Jim Joseph Foundation's notes from the conversation:

About JJF:
  • JJF is 5 years old. Granted over $250M in its first five years.
  • Broadly, supports the education of Jewish youth and young adults.
  • Grantmaking strategy focuses on:
    • Professional Development of educators
    • Immersive learning experiences.
    • Peer to Peer learning
    • Field building
  • Goal: that greater number of young Jews choose to make Jewish values and Jewish life a part of who they are in the world.

JJF and Networks:
  • About 18% of the total portfolio is invested in Networks.
    • Networks of professionals
    • Networks of teens and emerging adults
    • Spotty weaving of organizations in this space.

Peer Assist:
Want to focus this incredible opportunity to brainstorm with my colleagues on the work that we are doing fostering networks of individuals.
Currently, Jim Joseph is largely focused on funding networks of Jewish young adults – and has gravitated to funding organizational platforms that build networks based on the age of the person – one for teens, one for college students, one for the post college set. The goal around the funding is to build peer networks for purposes of identity formation, peer support and learning.

The issue is that once you age out of the teen network – there is really not a natural bridge to the network at college and so on. The organizations are not integrated, there is no strategy for handoff and the networks seem to have a more closed structure. This makes the transmission of relationships to this new setting complicated and highly variable.

The strategy we’ve alighted on, to date, is to focus our work on integrating the organizations with the assumption that the networks will follow. We’ve done this in a couple of different ways.

1. Convene them.
  • Last year we brought together our key grantees in this space for a conversation their vision of themselves as a field. Monitor Group actually facilitated this conversation for us.
  • This was set up as a discrete event and the conversation was very rich. At the conclusion, we asked these grantees to come back to us with a proposal of what they could do together. After a few follow up meetings and some noises about sharing online space and data sharing, the conversation died. What we heard from them that funders convene them often and that they don’t have the time/resources for the groupthink.
  • Advice I’ve gotten and what I’ve gleaned from the literature is that to do this right, we need to incentivize these grantees and also play a much more active role as weaver, facilitator and resource. We would need to commit to a significant time investment with a very clear goal around knitting the field for the purposes of growing impact.
  • Questions:
    • Is this a good strategy?
    • Will the work with these organizations mean that the networks they each build will be increasingly more integrated?
    • Or is the organizational investment not going to lead to more integration between the various networks?

2. Use evaluation as a bridge
  • All of our grants include a sizeable budget for independent evaluation.
  • What we often find is that we are measuring for the same outcomes across the different grantees.
  • From the Foundation’s perch, it seems fairly obvious that there is a set of shared outcomes that would be more easily attained if collaboration and coordination was the name of the game.
  • We’re considering bringing together the evaluation teams as a bridge to the conversation about shared metrics and collaborative outcomes.
  • Question:
    • This will no doubt lead to greater efficiency and standardization in measurement, but will it impact the function of the networks or the integration of the networks?
    • Is evaluation a good lever for shifting your work and that of your grantees to a more networked mode of working?

Other strategies? Is there a more ‘networked’ approach?

  • Stephanie McAuliffe – Packard Fdn. Director of Human Resources and Org Effectiveness.
  • Janet Shing and Susie ? – Monterey Community Foundation
  • Kathy Reich – Packard Foundation, Org effectiveness.
  • Carrie Sotherland – Hawaii Community Foundation
  • Meghan Callcari – Moore Foundation. Marine Conservation in Canada.
  • Marie Souder – Gates Foundation

  • Feel like social mapping might be helpful especially of the leadership. Perhaps map the leadership and make explicit the connections between them. Follow these folks through time and what impacts their experience in the Jewish world. Maybe could identify what serves as constants in their experience.
  • Would be important to the leadership to be present in the network. Ask them what the
  • Is there something about the org culture that makes it hard for them to collaborate?
  • Feel like if the joint evaluation with streamlined reporting might be a carrot that will walk them into the bigger conversation. Especially if more than one of their funders are at the table.
  • Have stipended participants and incentivized organizations. Not sure would do it again but not sure if participation grant didn’t get the project off the ground (Hawaii and Moore Fdn both gave participation grant and also allowed them to jointly hire a facilitator)
  • Facilitation is key –need to staff this outside of the organizations themselves. Someone who was credible and neutral.
  • Look at Seafood Choices Alliance – Group of orgs that develop standards for seafood consumption and also get people to adopt those standards. Their facilitator was a separate grantee. Fdn also paid for the convenings. Condition of the individual org grant was to participate in the Alliance. Also paid for a weaver. Not sure if the organization work had broader impact on the network. Also very hard for the Fdn to back out.
  • Moore Fdn – Housed facilitator at a neutral place (Tides Fdn). Also provided small fund for the facilitator to help organizations do some analysis, etc. Fund
  • On a shared space: Again need a carrot for participation.
  • Hawaii: YouthMatters – organizations came together to get a joint vision together.

  • Group endorses working with the organizations to promote network health but no data on whether the greater range impact is happening.
  • Add another strategy which is engage the youth leadership themselves. Map the youth leadership and have them make explicit what they want from the network.
  • General agreement: Evaluation might be a great place to start a conversation especially if the carrot can be greater efficiency for the grantees.
  • Have the network work on something together. Vision for the future
  • Network doesn’t have to be consensus driven. Can be relational. Making the connections is important.