Covenant Foundation Grants Announced


Contact: Glenn Rosenkrantz, 646.245.8975,



New York – Feb. 4, 2009 – From an environmental education program infused with Jewish values, to a digital media project teaching children Jewish history and heritage, 16 innovative and trailblazing initiatives are recipients of new Covenant Foundation grants.

Over $1.4 million in grants were announced by the Foundation today as part of its mission to support, advance and recognize excellence and impact in Jewish educational settings.

“The Covenant Foundation is committed to injecting new life and vitality into Jewish educational realms, promoting and encouraging new ways of thinking, and sustaining and growing Jewish community into the future,” said Eli N. Evans, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. “This new set of grant recipients represent some of the most forward-looking projects and ideas on the landscape today. Their potential is far-reaching and significant.”

Foundation grants are divided into two categories: Signature grants, which provide funding for up to $250,000 for five years, and Ignition grants, of up to $20,000 for one year to support new and untested approaches.

“We are particularly interested in acknowledging creativity in Jewish education and traversing unknown territory where risk and innovation are married,” said Harlene Winnick Appelman, executive director of the Foundation. “Our new crop of grantees are generators of ideas and approaches of great promise for success, effect and transformative replication elsewhere.”

Signature grantees include:

  • The Bergen County Y, A Jewish Community Center, Washington Township, NJ: $141,600 over three years for the Kehillah Partnership, a collaboration among synagogues, the Jewish federation and the Bergen County Y-JCC to strengthen and enrich educational programming and create a model for resource-sharing and community building.
  • Canada Israel Experience, Toronto: $149,685 over three years to expand and develop the Birthright Alumni Community Leadership Project, including enhanced training for Birthright Israel trip leaders, and post-trip programming for Birthright Israel participants to inspire and empower them to take active roles in their home communities.
  • Jewish Outreach Partnership, Melrose Park, PA: $150,000 over three years to spread the Reshet Network model for synagogue strengthening and partnering to other communities in North America.
  • Jewish Women’s Archive, Brookline, MA: $150,000 over three years to support Living the Legacy: A Jewish Social Justice Education Project, with creation of educational modules and interactive tools, all digitally available to educators and students, examining the history of the American Jewish social justice movement.
  • Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA: $200,000 over four years for the Induction Toolkit Development Project, to bolster the capacity of Jewish day schools in small communities to support, develop and retain new teachers, and promote the ongoing development of all teachers.
  • Mechon Hadar, New York: $153,612 over three years to establish the Yeshivat Hadar Covenant Fellowship, to empower young Jews who have completed a Torah study program to lead emerging and established Jewish communities.
  • The Moxie Institute, Mill Valley, CA: $42,000 for one year to support educational screenings of The Tribe, an acclaimed film about contemporary Jewish identity, and to offer curriculum and discussion guides and materials to Jewish organizations.
  • RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, New York: $150,000 over three years to expand the scope and quality of its Moot Beit Din program, an application of Jewish text study to contemporary life, in Jewish high schools across North America.
  • Sesame Workshop, New York: $189,600 over three years to develop the website of the Shalom Sesame Project, which aims to teach children ages three to five about Jewish holidays, biblical stories, the Hebrew language and Israel through interactive, digital means.

The new round of Ignition grantees include:

  • The Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, New York: $20,000 for one year to expand the Center’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, which empowers, educates and trains female university students for professional leadership roles within the Jewish community.
  • Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, VA: $20,000 for one year to establish “Together We Can Thrive,” a coalition of early childhood Jewish education programs in small communities underserved by national programs and organizations, in order to share resources and best practices and to advocate for their work and resources.
  • Hashomer Hatzair, New York: $10,000 for one year to develop “Without Walls,” an informal education program in Jewish supplementary schools to create a cadre of Jewish youth committed to becoming active citizens in their communities.
  • The Jewish Community Center of Asheville, NC: $20,000 for one year to develop a curriculum for the Children’s Educational Garden Project, including green activities, lessons, and discussion topics integrating Jewish environmental values for children.
  • National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, MA: $20,000 for one year to establish the Jewish Cultural Fellows Program to bring Yiddish language, literature, cultural and other programming to college campuses across the country.
  • Nishmah: The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project, St. Louis: $5,000 for one year to expand Banot Buddies, which joins elementary- and high school-age girls for mentorship, enrichment and community service projects underscoring Jewish social values.
  • Skirball Center of Adult Jewish Learning, New York: $20,000 for one year for “Projecting Freedom: Cinematic Interpretations of the Haggadah,” through which filmmakers will create short video interpretations of the 15 parts of the Passover text. A resulting DVD and study guide will be used in schools and other educational settings.

Since 1991, the Foundation has granted nearly $17.8 million to develop and support Jewish education and community-building projects and programs in the United States, Canada and Israel.

Past grantees with creative and trailblazing approaches to Jewish education across denominations and settings are highlighted in “A Covenant of Dreams,” a special publication and accompanying DVD created to mark the Foundation’s 18th (“chai”) anniversary last year. Excerpts are featured at

The foundation is currently inviting 2009 Signature and Ignition grant applications. Potential applicants should visit for information and guidelines. The deadline for submitting an initial letter of inquiry is Feb. 26.

The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Foundation and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA).