PJ Library Implementing Partner Engagement Grants Awarded

We at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation are excited to present the third cohort of PJ Library Implementing Partner Engagement Grant recipients, which have been awarded $170,000 in grants, ranging from $4,000-$25,000, to expand and deepen engagement opportunities for families raising Jewish children across North America.

The 12 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.

Part of a five-year strategy to extend Jewish engagement in North America, these grants are funded through the PJ Library Alliance. Our partners in the Alliance are the Azrieli Foundation; Carl and Joann Bianco; William Davidson Foundation; Jim Joseph Foundation; William and Audrey Farber Philanthropic Fund; Diane and Guilford Glazer/Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; the Marcus Foundation, Inc.; Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall; and two anonymous partners.

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

On-Going Neighborhood Programming

PJ Cares, Minneapolis Jewish Federation and Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN

A series of monthly service-learning events, PJ Cares offers a meaningful way for families with young children to volunteer in the local community. Parent-only events and neighborhood activities will add to the building of social connections among the families.

My Munchkin and Me, Congregation Beth Israel, Monterey Bay, CA

A monthly parenting group with parallel child-friendly programming, My Munchkin and Me will help build friendships between families in an area with a sparse Jewish population. Neighborhood parent captains will create family programming and a closed Facebook group to further encourage social connections.

Food with Friends, United Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, Princeton, NJ

Four to six PJ moms will serve as neighborhood ambassadors, reaching out to their social networks to bring together PJ parents to take part in Food with Friends, an ongoing program that builds community around socializing, cooking, social justice, and sharing food and recipes.

Upper Valley Neighborhood Captains, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Western MA

Eight neighborhood captains will focus on distinct neighborhoods throughout the Upper Valley communities of Western Massachusetts to connect families to neighborhood-based activities and engage them in programs such as Shabbat dinners, hikes, PJ Library storybook hours, social action activities, parent nights out, and playgroups.

Home-Based Shabbat Programming

Shabbat @ Home, Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI

Between four and six families who participated in PJ Library Get Togethers, a previous grant initiative, will host a consistent group of less-engaged families in their neighborhoods for monthly Shabbat dinners.

The Halifax Shabbat ProJect, the Atlantic Jewish Council, Atlantic Provinces, Canada

Monthly Shabbat family programs will take place, alternating between Shabbat workshops and home-hosted Shabbat dinners, including a community-wide Tot Shabbat dinner and PJ Havdalah party.

Guess Who’s Coming to Shabbat Dinner?, Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, Harrisburg, PA

Five PJ Library families engaged in the Jewish community will host two to four less-engaged families living in their neighborhood for three Shabbat dinners throughout the year. During the months in between the Shabbat dinners, all families will be invited to participate in workshops and experience new ways to bring Shabbat into their homes.

Community Connectors

PJ Baby Connectors, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

Three community connectors will lead weekly gatherings in three underserved neighborhoods to form local communities. Each connector will focus on families with children ages 0-2, connecting families with each other as well as additional local Jewish resources.

Dallas Connectors Project, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Dallas, TX

Three community connectors in three distinct geographic areas will focus on reaching and engaging harder-to-reach families with children between the ages of 0-4. Connectors will create meaningful relationships with individuals as well as provide small group events in homes, book shops, and other public space venues.

Miami Community Connectors, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami, FL

Three community connectors will reach out to engage families with children ages 0-3 in three different geographic regions. The focus on newer parents will help connect those who feel isolated and seek out friendships with other parents at the same stage of parenting.

Engage and Connect, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, South Palm Beach, FL

Three community connectors will help engage families by offering a series of fun experiences for the whole family, connecting families with each other before, during, and after programs, and connecting them to local Jewish resources. Social media, coffee dates, and small community-based Jewish programs, will bring together parents of newborns through age 2 and parents of children ages 2-4.

Sing Schmooze and Celebrate: PJ Family Adventures, Jewish Communities of Vermont, Vermont

Two parent connectors will work in Montpelier and in Burlington to deepen families' engagement with Jewish life and help them create a circle of friends raising Jewish children. Monthly PJ family holiday adventures will be augmented by ongoing neighborhood playgroups planned, organized, and led by parent connectors.

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