Brand, who facilitated a retreat Feb. 8 to 10 for the project directors, spoke to a group of energetic, passionate and determined officials as they absorbed and developed insights to help them continue and strengthen their unique journeys to bolster Jewish education – and their individual programs – with creativity, solutions and results.
Discovering strategies to drive innovative thinking were woven through the fabric of the retreat. Storytelling, problem solving, exploring alternative pathways, technology and creative applications, and nurturing new possibilities formed the core of the formal sessions and informal discussions. How, for example, can grantees create an emotionally charged, poignant true story about their projects to encourage more support? Or, can educators develop exciting games to solve challenging communal problems?
In light of the current economic climate, a session on sustainability helped the directors think about project viability from several perspectives, including ways to redirect resources to ensure continuation of their programs.
“Living within the margins of ambiguity is incredibly difficult and yet often breeds new ingenuity and innovation,” said Harlene Appelman, executive director of The Covenant Foundation.
Consistent with the Foundation’s mission to cultivate excellence, effectiveness, and creativity in Jewish education, Appelman noted that the Foundation’s grants represented permission to think big, and she urged project directors to think forward and carve out space to drive transformational change.
“Adding to the list of ways in which The Covenant Foundation is truly a visionary organization is the forethought to convene, network, and support its grantees. I came away from the grantee retreat with so many new, inspirational colleagues and greater clarity as how to ensure the success of the RAVSAK Moot Beit Din,” said Marc N. Kramer, Ph.D., executive director of RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network.
The retreat in New Jersey attracted 35 project directors and others affiliated with programs, projects and initiatives currently receiving support from the Foundation.
“These were an incredible few days,” said Naava Frank, founder of Knowledge Communities, “from the mind-expanding topics to the incredible group of talented peers.”
“It’s rejuvenating to be surrounded by creative colleagues who are encouraged to be creative together,” said Rabbi Josh Feigelson of the Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University and the HowDoYouJew online initiative. “We spend a tremendous amount of time and energy – physical and emotional – putting together curricula, resources, lessons, and experiences. As a group, we would benefit greatly from a central digital hub for these kinds of resources. The meeting got me excited about the possibility of creating such a resource.”
The Covenant Foundation recently announced a new group of grantees. [read the press release]