PJ Library Engagement Grants for Implementing Partners Awarded

PJ Library Alliance Partners

On behalf of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, we are excited to present the recipients of this year’s PJ Library Engagement Grants for Implementing Partners. Over $300,000 has been awarded in grants ranging from $8,000-$25,000 to expand and deepen engagement opportunities for families raising Jewish children across the United States and Canada.

A vibrant family engagement community is one that actively reaches out to find new families, builds relationships between and amongst families, engages them in high-quality Jewish experiences, and empowers parents to take the lead in their family’s Jewish life. This year’s grant recipients all reflect these key practices through three primary tracks: Growing Boldly, Partnering for Impact, and Empowering Parents.

We are grateful to our PJ Library Alliance partners who have joined the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in funding these engagement grants: William Davidson Foundation; The Marcus Foundation, Inc.; The Azreili Foundation; Genesis Philanthropy Group; Jim Joseph Foundation; The Micah Foundation; Sam Berman Charitable Foundation; Carl & Joann Bianco; The Crown Family; Marilyn Einstein & Steven Sim Charitable Fund; Dr. Steven Grinspoon; One8 Foundation; Howard & Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; Stephen and Bebe Saks Family Foundation; Sherrie R. Savett Family Foundation; Mike & Sofia Segal Family Foundation; Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah, & Aaron Winshall; Zucker Family Foundation; and three anonymous partners.

This year’s selected initiatives are listed below. Each recipient will join a community of practice that offers ongoing peer support and collective learning along with renewal grant recipients. We look forward to working with these partners and seeing all their innovative initiatives come to life.

Growing Boldly

Baltimore, MD
Cleveland, OH
Indianapolis, IN

These communities will focus on increasing the number of children enrolled in PJ Library overall AND reaching those families in Jewish communities that are under-represented among PJ Library families, such as those living in outlying geographic areas, Jews of color, and LGBTQ, interfaith, and multicultural families. Communities will also be required to allocate time to meet one-on-one with a representative sample of new families to hear their stories and identify their needs.

Partnering for Impact

Generation Gratitude: Families Cultivating Gratitude Together, Jewish Federation of Dutchess County, Mid-Hudson Valley, NY

Generation Gratitude is designed to be an immersive experience for PJ Library families (with children ages 0 to 3) to intentionally develop ways to cultivate gratitude as a family, and a cohort. Through yoga, mindfulness exercises, and parent education, our Generation Gratitude mentors will share proven techniques and Jewish rituals to empower families to cultivate gratitude in their homes, including the Modeh Ani and the Shema prayer.

Find Your Voice, Jewish Federation of Reading, Reading, PA

Find Your Voice is a program for emerging and existing PJ Our Way families. Tweens will learn about finding their voice to become more self-aware, build confidence, and be an example of peace in our community. Through the lens of social justice, our program will explore books with a variety of characters of different nationalities, races, and genders. Authors will meet with our group and help the young readers develop the skills and confidence to become leaders in their schools and communities. In between author visits, Find Your Voice will include service opportunities focusing on social justice and visits to leading museums highlighting history of minority groups. Find Your Voice is a partnership program with a local public library, Jewish Federation of Reading, and other faith communities.

Exploring Uncertainty, Finding Ourselves: A PJ Library and Jewish Studio Project Collaboration, Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester, Rochester, NY

PJ Library of Rochester and the Jewish Studio Project (JSP) will collaborate on a project designed for PJ Library parents using creativity and Jewish learning to explore mindfulness, art and culture, and Jewish identity. Two cohorts, one comprised of parents with young children and one of parents of children with special needs, will be the target audiences for this unique exploration.

Empowering Parents

emPARENTment, Jewish Community Board of Akron, Akron, OH

In order to foster community and create opportunities for families to better connect and build lasting friendships, we will create chavurot gatherings centered on holidays and Shabbat. Families will be provided with all materials needed for holiday celebrations and will be matched with other families geographically who have similar aged children.

It’s in the Bag! An Interactive Way for Young Families to Engage, Be Inspired, and Stay Sane in the Time of COVID-19, Birmingham Jewish Federation, Birmingham, AL

Connecting with ourselves, our families, and each other in meaningful ways will help us stay on top of it all! Families will receive a bag focused on staying healthy through mind, body, and spirit activities. PJ Library parents will lead virtual activities and connect with families in between activities.

CU in PJ’s! Champaign Urbana Jewish Federation, Champaign/Urbana, IL

PJ parents will help plan virtual or in-person experiences for PJ Library families and reach out to other Jewish families in the community. Through small groups, families will be carefully matched to include similarly aged siblings to participate together in craft or cooking projects, book exchanges, story times, dance parties, and holiday-related or tzedakah projects.

Shabbat Unplugged, Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Shabbat Unplugged is about being present as a family and making the day different. Inspired by Tiffany Shlain, small cohorts of families will learn together and motivate each other to embrace Shabbat and create screen-free time, providing much needed respite that restores us all week long.

Parent Leadership Training, Jewish United Fund, Chicago, IL

Parent connectors have the potential to be leaders not only within their neighborhoods but also within the broader Jewish community. As such, PJ Library Chicago’s Parent Leadership Training program will provide parent connectors with a tailored and robust set of education and engagement skills to help them be effective Jewish leaders throughout their lives. PJ Library in Chicago will partner with two nationally renowned Jewish organizations, M2: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Learning and OneTable, to facilitate the Parent Leadership Training program.

Great Connections, Jewish Colorado, Colorado

Three parent connectors will create and foster sustainable relationships and friendships between families that share common Jewish values in similar neighborhoods.

JWB Empowered Parents Initiative, Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, Military

JWB will hire 5 committed and passionate parents with valuable personal experience and involvement in their communities to create inclusive, fun, and engaging programming for 40-50 Jewish military families on their installations. These parent connector gatherings will be designed to enable families to find lasting meaning in Jewish life.

Finding Your Connections Through PJ Library, Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC, Milwaukee, WI

Finding Your Connections (FYC) through PJ Library is a program that empowers parents to become connectors, building new relationships and co-creating Jewish experiences with other families. Three parent connectors will catalyze new relationships and deeper engagement in Jewish life for underserved groups in the western suburbs, the Russian-speaking Jewish community, and new-baby families.

Seattle PJ Parent Connectors Program 2.0: Empowering Parents at Home, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Seattle, WA

Seattle PJ Parent Connectors Program 2.0 is all about meeting families where they are and empowering parents to take the lead in building their Jewish community. Parent Connectors model how to do Jewish at home and inspire other families to do the same. By expanding our program, we will reach unaffiliated families and those in additional geographic regions.