What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. So it is with educational initiatives. Have they remained exactly as planned or have they changed along the way, keeping to the spirit if not the letter of a proposed project or educational endeavor?

The Covenant Foundation’s Grant Impact and Sustainability Report is a description of Covenant Foundation grants from 2000 to 2007 and an analysis of those that have grown, those that were valiant attempts but are no longer active, and the lessons we have gleaned from these results. The work was conducted by Rosov Consulting, LLC and written by Dr. Tobin Belzer. It was edited by Dr. Meredith Woocher. Dr. Woocher introduced the Lead Impact Categories in order to encourage the reader to examine these projects through diverse lenses.

The Grant Impact and Sustainability Report reflects a long-held notion of the Foundation: 

Waiting and revisiting educational initiatives to determine if they have thrived is a responsible way to measure investment. The knowledge gained from this type of analysis will be valuable to the field and everyone will have learned from experience.

The grants highlighted in the “Grant Results” section of Sight Line focus on grants found in the Grant Impact and Sustainability Report. Interviews were conducted with former Project Directors to create brief summary documents for each grant, and these documents were then coded into seven “impact categories.” The categories are not mutually exclusive; in fact, most of the grants fall into more than one category. While not every grant achieved the same level of impact or sustainability over time, even those that were smaller in scope or shorter in duration achieved successes that changed the Jewish world for the better. 

The impact categories are as follows:

  1. Portals to Jewish Life and Learning
    Creating new venues and opportunities for engaging often underserved populations in Jewish life.
  2. Professional Development
    Growing and enhancing the skills of today’s and tomorrow’s Jewish educators.
  3. New Directions for the Field
    Seeding the field with new visions, experiences, or resources that have a far-reaching impact.
  4. Organizational Change and Capacity Building:
    Helping organizations significantly expand their ability to achieve their goals, or find a new direction for their work.
  5. Creating Community and Connections
    Bringing people and ideas together for networking, sharing, and generating the future.
  6. New Jewish “Texts”
    Finding new ways to express one's Jewish identity and embody the contemporary Jewish experience through artistic mediums including film, art, dance, and performance.
  7. Resources for the Field
    Developing new, enhanced, or expanded Jewish educational tools with the potential for widespread distribution and use.

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