The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Expands Investment in Families with Young Children

National PJ Library® grant will further strengthen Federation’s efforts

Washington, DC—The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington recently received a grant from PJ Library, the flagship program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that provides free books to families raising Jewish children all over the world. The grant is great news for area families with young children, who will now have even more engaging opportunities to participate in Jewish life within the local community.

The grant will be used to fund REFUEL: Relational Engagement for Families Using Enhanced Learning. Specifically, Federation will use the grant funding to support the Federation-funded JFamily Ambassadors (JFAs) programs run through the area’s three local Jewish Community Centers. The JFAs will embark on a year-long training on the foundations of Relationship-Based Engagement with the DC-based organization, Gather, Inc. Federation estimates that as a result of this effort, JFAs will continue expanding their outreach to families with young children and expects to see family participation in those programs double in the next few years.

Gather, Inc., a pilot project of the successful relational organization GatherDC, will engage JFAs in conversations around their groundbreaking Relational Based-Engagement model. Gather’s unique set of modules and principles prioritize enhancing personal relationships and strengthening ties across the landscape of the Jewish community.

The JFAs will apply the principles learned from Gather, Inc. to their work to deepen engagement with an estimated 4,300 families with children under six years old in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Montgomery County.

“Our 18 JFamily Ambassadors and managers will receive training and coaching from Gather, Inc. to build on their current work connecting with and supporting families,” notes Federation’s PJ Library Manager, Sarah Rabin Spira. “Bringing together these many partners will benefit thousands of local families as we prioritize connections and relationships and build a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community in Greater Washington.”

“We are excited and honored to begin this work with Federation’s JFamily Ambassadors,” says Gather, Inc. CEO Rachel Gildiner. “Relational work is at the heart of how we truly connect with our communities and one another. This engagement will not only increase opportunities for those already involved but will ultimately help reach more families and engage them more deeply in Jewish life.”

The goals of REFUEL are to work in coordination with the JFA programs and generate low-barrier, meaningful opportunities for families with young children to engage in Jewish life. Specifically, those opportunities will mean a greater connection with the local Jewish community, building a greater sense of belonging and participation and inspiring collaboration among individuals, families, institutions, and organizations. This work is set to begin in fall 2021.

The project’s partners and beneficiaries include The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, PJ Library in Greater Washington, Bender JCC of Greater Washington, Edlavitch DCJCC, Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia, and Gather, Inc.