And the Recipients Are… Announcing Our New Cohort of Educators!

We are thrilled to announce our first cohort for the Darim Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, chosen from among over 50 applicants. Included among them are national educational organizations, congregations, and a day school. We were excited to receive over 50 applications for this cohort, and it was very difficult to make these decisions! We weighed organizational readiness, innovation in institutional design and/or project design, team formation and creativity in thinking and culture, among other attributes. We appreciate all of the work put into the process, and we look forward to continuing conversations with all applicants in one way or another. And now, announcing the 2011-12 cohort! Drumroll please… Centropa Support the work of Centropa’s United States education department and its educators through the use of social media, including curricular resources and professional development. Team Leader: Lauren Granite, US Education Director Congregation B’nai Amoona, St. Louis Create a mission driven vision that takes advantage of social media and other 21st century technology tools to create strong and meaningful connections with a focus on integrating family education, adult education, and experiential education. Team Leader: Jennifer Newfeld, Director of Congregational Learning IKAR, Los Angeles Create family-based learning activities and interacting with Jewish ideas and values through home-based Judaism that complements students’ face to face learning. Team Leader: Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal, Director of Education Jewish Enrichment Center, Chicago Develop a strategic “networked nonprofit” model of leadership that includes school professionals, parents, and volunteers. Team Leader: Rebecca Milder, Director Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston Investigate new meanings of community and develop a Shabbat chavurah to support reconnection of the family and expand the ways members connect and communicate Shabbat experiences. Team Leader: Terri Ginsberg Bernsohn, Religious School Director Matan Develop online professional development events for Matan’s Jewish education institutes and support associated communities of learning for leaders and future leaders in Jewish special needs inclusion. Team Leader: Meredith Polsky, Special Education Coordinator Temple Beth Abraham, Tarrytown, NY Create multiple points of community building and engagement for current and potential congregational members with support from social media and personal learning networks. Team Leader: Pamela Barkley, Director of Education Temple Judea, Coral Gables, FL Strengthen communication and engagement with parents and families in a strategic way to build and augment the synagogue’s educational community. Team Leader: Beth Young, Director of Education The Weber School, Atlanta Use social media to provide students with opportunities to develop social and academic relationships with Israeli teenagers with whom they will be visiting during a 5 week Israel component in the middle of the school year. Team Leader: Rachel Schwartz, Teacher, History and Judaics Departments University of Washington, Stroum Jewish Studies Program, Seattle Develop a localized, interactive, and immersive digital ecosystem for Jewish studies students, beginning at the University of Washington and eventually expanding to other universities. Team Leader: Professor Noam Pianko These teams exhibited exceptional enthusiasm, readiness, and vision and we look forward to working with them this year! We’re thankful to the Covenant Foundation for supporting our work with this cohort. In addition, as part of this funding, Darim will be presenting a series of webinars over the coming year with a focus on innovation and social media in Jewish education, including guest experts such as David Bryfman. All Darim Online members are welcome to join these webinars. Not a member yet? Sign up here. Finally, Darim is running a six part webinar series for congregational educators this summer, starting July 5, in conjunction with NATE and JEA. Learn more and sign up here: NATE members click here and JEA members click here

Jewish New Media Innovation Fund Winners Go Beyond Those Awarded Funds

Today the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund announced the winners of the exciting process that help catalyze our community to focus on new media, our missions, and our strategy for the digital age. It was a fascinating experience to read the applications of the final 30, think deeply about the criteria of the fund, collaborate with an extraordinary team of advisors, and work with three visionary foundations. I am honored to have been part of this pilot year, and I hope that this initiative, and others like it, will continue.

While I’m quite excited about the projects that have been awarded funding, I’m even more excited about the broader impact that this fund has had on established organizations, entrepreneurs, and funders alike. Having worked to advance the Jewish community’s use of digital media for over 10 years now (wow, that went fast), I can see that even the announcement of the Fund changed the conversations among staff and lay leaders throughout the Jewish community. While a social media and mobile strategy might have been pushed to the bottom of the agenda over and over again, the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund forced them to put it at the top of the agenda, and to think about it strategically, not just tactically. Regardless of whether or not these ideas were funded today, providing an incentive, structure and time line I’m sure has deepened and advanced the work of many applicants.

It’s also important to note that the criteria used to evaluate the proposals has an impact beyond the short term decision making about fund allocation. For example, one requirement was that the projects would be able to launch or achieve results within 12 months. While in some cases this felt like a really compressed time line, the reality is that we are all in a permanent beta mode — we have to throw ideas against the wall, assess their effectiveness, and continue to refine over time. If you’re spending more than a year putting it together, either the idea wasn’t sufficiently thought out to begin with, or you’re not prepared to develop in an agile and iterative process.

The fund also set a priority on innovation – though the term was fairly broadly defined. In many cases, I think the made applicants really think beyond the obvious. I was impressed by how many applications viewed their mission through a new lens as they developed their applications. While the technology employed may not have been so “innovative” and new, the ways that they were thinking about their work clearly were. Kol hakavod to those that busted through the walls of their buildings, put the freedom of exploration in the hands of their users, and researched technologies, platforms and models outside of their immediate sphere of influence, or even their comfort zones.

There are many more lessons to be learned from the applicant pool, process, and over time, the outcomes of the projects funded. Regardless of who receives a check, this Fund was a tremendous gift to our community. I hope that those who used the opportunity to think in new and deeper and riskier ways will still find inspiration and value from the process, and will resolve to continue to take action on these ideas by incorporating these costs into their operating budget where appropriate, writing other grants, and seeking the support of other funders – foundations and individuals – who also recognize that these tools, ideas and approaches are critical to our communal future.

Are you an applicant to the #JNMIF who didn’t get your project funded this round? How are you going to proceed with this work? What non-financial assistance do you need? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Darim Awarded Covenant Grant for Work with Innovative Jewish Educators

Darim Online is thrilled to announce that The Covenant Foundation has awarded us a grant to work with two cohorts of innovative educational organizations in 2011-12 and 2012-13. The program will be a national Social Media Boot Camp for Jewish Educators, combining the best attributes of our Learning Network for Educators, and Social Media Boot Camps.

Participating organizations will bring teams of 3-5 staff and/or lay leaders to a series of online workshops and trainings to learn about the influence of technology and social media on their field, and practical applications of these powerful tools in their work for marketing, communication, professional learning, and program delivery. Participating teams will also receive private and small group coaching and consulting to help them design and implement a technology related project in their work.

Darim is seeking to build a cohort of innovative and risk taking organizations for this program. We define these terms broadly. Applicants need not demonstrate any particular level of technical proficiency or experience, but do need to have a track record of innovation and/or risk taking in some area of their work – from program design or teaching methods to communications or staffing.

Interested? Complete this brief form and we’ll make sure to notify you when the application and more information is available in the coming weeks.

Hey Northern New Jersey, It’s Your Lucky Day

We won the grant, but you’re the real winners. Darim’s running a Social Media Boot Camp in your backyard, and it’s time to apply. Thanks to generous funding from a Berrie Innovation Grant, Darim will be offering a year-long intensive social media training, consulting and coaching experience to 20 lucky Jewish organizations in northern New Jersey.

Social media isn’t just about new widgets and gadgets like Twitter and Facebook. It’s about a rapidly evolving culture, and a fundamental shift in communications, community building and decision making. To succeed in the 21st century, you need to know what this is all about, and how you can align your work in this new era.

The Social Media Boot Camp will kick off with a full day intensive on December 10th, and then provide a webinar series in 2010, as well as private coaching and consulting as your organization designs and implements a social media project. We encourage you to form a team of 3-5 people (staff and lay leadership/volunteers are welcome), and think about what your goals are. We’ll help you determine what social media tools and approaches best fit your needs, and teach you how to use them.

Applications are now available online! Answer a few questions, list your team members, and throw your hat into the ring. It’s thousands of dollars worth of consulting and training, and you’re only responsible for chipping in $500 – the Berrie Innovation Grant pays for all other expenses.

Learn more about the program and sign up here.

Darim Online Receives Berrie Innovation Grant

Darim is thrilled and honored to announce that we’ve been selected to receive a Berrie Innovation Grant to conduct a Social Media Boot Camp in northern New Jersey in the coming year. The program will introduce participants to social media tools and their implications, examining organizational goals, processes and staffing needs, and larger shifts in culture, communications and business models given the paradigm shift taking place.

The program represents a new area of focus for Darim, taking the lessons learned from The Darim Online Learning Network, and applying it to a longer term and deeper experience for organizations ready to think deeply and take action. Darim is now accepting inquiries from Jewish organizations in northern New Jersey, and shortly will be announcing guidelines, details and posting an online application. Participating organizations will take part in live events, attend skill building webinars, and receive private coaching and consulting as they develop and implement projects throughout the year.

The Berrie Innovation Grants, which were announced in the New Jersey Jewish Standard this past week, were awarded to organizations which are creating innovative programs that help transform the Jewish community. Last fall, the Russell Berrie Foundation entrusted the group of 43 members of the Berrie Fellows Network (the Fellows Network, part of the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program coordinated by UJA Federation of New Jersey, is an intensive education and leadership program, funded by the Russell Berrie Foundation that combines leadership and Jewish learning). With $100,000 for the purpose of supporting innovation in northern New Jerseys Jewish community. The guidelines the Fellows came up with were straightforward — recipients had to demonstrate out of the box thinking for programs that would be both innovative and transformative; and they needed to have a positive impact on the Jewish community. After a 6 month process reviewing over 100 applications, the Network has chosen four organizations to receive the grants: Darim Online, The Curriculum Initiative, Mechon Hadar, and The Jewish Outreach Institute.

Angelica Berrie, President of the Russell Berrie Foundation, commented that, The Russell Berrie Fellows were selected as leaders with the potential to meet the needs of our community in the 21st Century. We wanted to spur the Fellows to re-imagine what our community can be, and gave them the financial resources to make change happen. With the BIG process the Fellows have shown a commitment to innovation and to inclusiveness, we are eager to see their continuing involvement as champions of the programs they have selected.

According to Laura Freeman, BIG Project co-chair with David Rosenblatt, each organization represents innovative programming in a different area of Jewish life in northern New Jersey. Added Rosenblatt, Each met our criteria and most importantly was reviewed for their ability to execute and build sustainable programs.

Darim is excited to launch our Social Media Boot Camp pilots in northern New Jersey, funded by this “BIG” grant, and on Long Island, funded by UJA Federation of New York, and look forward to expanding the program into other communities in the near future. If you have questions about bringing a Boot Camp to your community, please contact us. Do you represent a Jewish organization in northern New Jersey? Learn more about our “BIG” Boot Camp here.

Calling Long Island Synagogues!

Thanks to funding from UJA Federation of New York, Darim is launching our first Boot Camp on Long Island. The Boot Camps are a year long program intended to infuse new knowledge and skills into participating organizations, coach a team from each organization as they take on a social media project (a new plan, a blog, a Facebook strategy, launching a Twitter stream, etc.). Built on a community of practice model, we will encourage knowledge sharing and examine case studies of successful adoption and impact in other organizations.

The Long Island project grew out of a discussion among local Rabbis. Eager to learn about social media, and with the awareness that the tools, skills and mindset were essential to engage and serve especially the younger generations, they worked with the SYNERGY program of UJA Federation of NY to fine tune their interests and goals. Darim’s new Boot Camp model fit the bill perfectly.

We’ll be hosting webinars this month for representatives from Long Island congregations to learn a bit about social media, and to get more information about the year long program which will kick off just after High Holy Days this fall. Synagogues will be invited to apply for the program this summer.

Are you from a Long Island congregation? Know someone who is? Pass along the information! The introductory webinar is free, and we’re offering it at 4 times, for maximum convenience. But you have to register. Staff, lay leadership and volunteers from Long Island congregations are invited. Multiple representatives from a single congregation are encouraged! Learn more and sign up here.

Legacy Heritage Innovation Projects:Grants for Music Integration and Israel Engagement

Attention, creative synagogues (yes, thats YOU!): the Legacy Heritage Fund is sponsoring two exciting new grant programs to support synagogues in North America.

Check out these two grant opportunities of up to $25,000 to selected synagogues for:

  • innovative work in integrating music throughout congregational life
  • innovative work in deepening congregants engagement with the history, culture, and people of the State of Israel

So get your groove on and get your applications in!

Applications are due Monday, May 11, 2009. See the Legacy Heritage site for details!

Note: Congregations may apply for one Legacy Heritage Innovative Project track each year.