PJ Library Implementing Partner Engagement Grants Awarded

On behalf of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, we are excited to present the fifth cohort of PJ Library Implementing Partner Engagement Grant recipients, which have been awarded $200,000 in grants, ranging from $8,000-$25,000, to expand and deepen engagement opportunities for families raising Jewish children across North America.

The 13 selected initiatives emphasize building social connections over time among families raising Jewish children as well as connecting families to local opportunities to engage in Jewish life, programming, or learning.

To extend Jewish engagement in North America, generous PJ Library Alliance partners have joined the HGF in funding these grants as part of a five-year engagement strategy.

Alliance partners are the William Davidson Foundation; The Marcus Foundation, Inc.; Genesis Philanthropy Group; The Azrieli Foundation; Jim Joseph Foundation; Diane and Guilford Glazer/Jewish Community Foundation of LA; The Micah Foundation; The Sam Berman Charitable Foundation; Carl and Joann Bianco; The Crown Family; Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; The Sherrie R. Savett Family Foundation; Mike and Sofia Segal Family Foundation; Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall; Zucker Family Foundation; and three anonymous partners.

This year’s selected initiatives, listed below, are divided into four categories; each category will serve as a community of practice, offering ongoing peer support and collective learning along with Cohort 4 renewal grant recipients. We look forward to working with these partners and seeing all their innovative initiatives come to life.

Ongoing Neighborhood Programming

More Family Fun, Congregation Children of Israel, Athens, GA

Continuing the momentum of Family Fun Shabbat, this initiative will engage newcomers and connect them to other Jewish families, empower parents to take leadership roles, and provide a variety of low barrier, attractive Jewish experiences throughout the year. Events will be created and implemented by parent volunteers, including social programs in public spaces, home-based Shabbat dinners, parents’ night out, and collaborative programs with University of Georgia Hillel.

PJ Library Family Camp and Shabbat Bunks, Jewish United Fund, Chicago, IL

PJ Library Family Camp is the first in the Chicago area designed exclusively for families with preschool-aged children. Partnering with two different camps, parent connectors will recruit families to participate in this immersive engagement experience through pre-camp programming. After family camp, parent connectors will continue to gather families together through home-hosted Shabbat dinners.

Shalom Baby/Young Family Welcome Basket, Knoxville Jewish Alliance, Inc., Knoxville, TN

This initiative is designed to welcome new families and new babies to the community through personal outreach and a high-quality welcome basket. Four parent captains will continue making these families feel a part of the community through monthly neighborhood meet-ups designed to further connect families to each other and the larger Knoxville Jewish community.

Home-Based Shabbat Programming

Come to Our Table, Jewish Federation of Lane County, Eugene, OR

Families will participate in monthly home-hosted Shabbat dinners in small groups focusing on underrepresented populations. Community-wide Shabbat programs and workshops throughout the year will allow participants to create family heirlooms like challah covers and candlesticks to enhance Shabbat celebrations in their homes.

Community Connectors

Houston Community Connectors, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Houston, TX

Community connectors will build relationships and connect families to one another through programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of their micro-community. Through these engagement touch points, families will be connected to Jewish communal opportunities in their area and the greater Jewish community of Houston.

PJ Library Ambassadors, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, South River, NJ

Four family engagement ambassadors will create and lead ongoing home-based and public space gatherings for families that are less engaged in institutional Jewish communal life. Ambassadors will be responsible for building relationships with families, connecting families to one another, and developing local small-scale programs, designed around the wishes and needs of the families. Ambassadors will also connect families with larger family-friendly community opportunities for engagement.

PJ Library Jax Baby Club, Jewish Family & Community Services, Inc., Jacksonville, FL

Parent connectors will find, meet, and connect families with children ages 0-2 to each other and to local Jewish resources. Monthly programming will take place in homes and public spaces in the same neighborhoods and will be modified as the children get older. Each parent connector will design programs to connect Jewish mothers to each other and create relationships that will extend beyond these programs.

PJ Library Minneapolis Connectors, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN

Two parent connectors will lead bi-weekly gatherings for families with children ages 0-3. Activities will include a semiannual Shalom Baby Shower, ongoing baby programs, monthly playgroups, and parent nights out offered both on weekdays and weekends.

GenMTL PJ Library Ambassadors, Federation CJA, Montreal, Quebec

Four PJ ambassadors will focus on families with children ages 0-3 in distinct underserved neighborhoods. They will be responsible for planning niche programs, building relationships with parents, and tracking data.

Parent Connector Program Expansion, Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County, Orange County, CA

Four neighborhood connectors will serve in four unique geographic regions that are Jewishly underserved, with intent to build community and connect families to meaningful Jewish opportunities at home and in their neighborhoods.

PJ Library Parent Connectors for Families with Young Children, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, San Francisco, CA

Three parent connectors will engage interfaith and Jewish families of color with children ages 0-3 in 3 distinct neighborhoods. Through peer-to-peer family connections, connectors will build friendships and inspire Jewish engagement in their local community. Activities will include park playdates, stroller walks, in-home Shabbat dinners, and more to weave a sense of community and belonging.

Neighborhood Captains

PJ Library Ambassadors, Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

To maximize family engagement in this community where families are dispersed throughout a large geographic region, parent ambassadors will create networks of families in specific neighborhoods to develop hyper-local programming that fits the needs of families in their area.

PJ Library’s “Play Together!”, United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, Stamford, CT

“Play Together!” is a series of bi-monthly get-togethers in four underserved neighborhoods led by a parent ambassador to create community and social connections. Each neighborhood group will meet twice a month – once for a monthly home-hosted playgroup and the second for an outing to a variety of public space locations decided upon by the playgroup.