Federation CJA, Montreal

Federation CJA, Montreal

Federation CJA, Montreal: Breaking Down Silos and Embracing A Common Language

Led by Federation CJA, Passport to Jewish Life (Passport) is a funders collaborative* created in 2018. A bold theory of change was developed to increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of Jewish opportunities and programs in Montreal. Professional Development for educators across the Montreal Jewish community was a core pillar and a seminal piece to creating the type of systems-change envisioned.

*The Funder Collaborative is comprised of the Azrieli Foundation, the Sylvan Adams Family Foundation, the Claudine & Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, the Morris & Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation, the Alvin Segal Family Foundation, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal, and Federation CJA.

Challenge

Federation CJA and the Passport Funders Collaborative believed that Jewish education would only be as good as the Jewish educators who facilitated it. Experiential and informal educators often did not have access or budgets for excellent professional development opportunities. If and when they did, the professional development opportunities were often episodic and did not connect the network of Montreal educators with one another to share a common language of education and tools to implement change.

Solution

In order to increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of experiences, a key strategy was to invest in a model that focused on motivating and equipping a team of educators who were most likely to lead change as well as create a structure for systemic collaboration and deep impact. This model would need to focus on developing, supporting and strengthening the capacity of educators currently leading the educational system, and facilitate systemic change by building teams comprised of the educational supervisors and the executives of the key organizations. As such, Federation CJA contracted M² to design this process and work intensely with the cohort to help cultivate and adopt shared educational frameworks, enabling them to collaborate, support, and challenge one another. Through our unique value-centered approach to teaching and learning, Fellows learned how to identify and infuse Jewish values into their programs. They gained exposure to core and contemporary methods that promote experiential learning, and toll to help their learners make meaning and cultivate stronger identities. The fellows also explored real-life challenges in the Montreal community and presented their recommendations to community leaders. The shared language that they gained enabled Fellows to collaborate for the purpose of differentiation, as each fellow helped the other focus more deeply on their respective educational programs. Fellows came to view one another as partners and peers, working in a shared environment with an overarching common purpose. At the end of the 18-month program, it was clear that the journey for these Fellows had just begun, with the seeds of leadership, growth, and innovation planted and beginning to bear fruit.
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