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Jewish Education Gains New Funder

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The Jim Joseph Foundation, a new philanthropy devoted to enhancing Jewish education, is slated to bring on board its first, and so far, only employee this week. But that could be the start of something big.

Technically, the San Francisco-based private organization has been in existence since 1987, awarding grants totaling roughly $500,000 to $1 million a year. Soon, though, it will be able to contribute far more, most likely to Jewish private schools, youth groups, camps, and other organizations contributing to the education of Jewish youths.

When Mr. Joseph, a Bay-area real estate developer, died in December 2003 at age 68, he left many assets, including his real estate company, Interland Corp., to the foundation. The assets, valued at over $500 million, will pour into the foundation this year. Federal law requires private foundations to disburse 5 percent of their assets annually.

“The impact is going to be substantial,” said Mark S. Charendoff, the president of the Jewish Funders Network, located in New York City. “It’s a foundation that is only focused on Jewish education, which is very rare. The world of Jewish education is not that big— you’re talking about a limited population.”

According to Charles M. “Chip” Edelsberg, the foundation’s newly minted executive director, the organization has been reincorporated but still retains Mr. Joseph’s original purpose of supporting and creating new opportunities for Jewish education.

“The purpose has always been Jewish education for children and youth,” said Mr. Edelsberg, who was the vice president of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland through last month.

Mr. Edelsberg plans to confer with his six-person board and decide how the philanthropy’s money can best be put to work. He said the foundation will make grants by invitation only through at least 2007.

“We’d like to try to identify what’s working; … then, what might we support that’s working?” he said, citing camps, day schools, youth groups, and Jewish educational organizations as likely recipients. “And then we need to look for new opportunities.”

Vol. 25, Issue 27, Page 7

Published in Print: March 15, 2006, as Jewish Education Gains New Funder
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