SEATTLE, December 8, 2021 – The largest Jewish philanthropy in Washington State has launched its first youth enrichment and engagement open Request for Proposal (RFP) in 27 years to support a wider breadth and depth of youth programming across the State of Washington. During the Foundation’s strategic planning process, completed in the winter of 2020, Samis confirmed the organization’s strategic priorities and defined a clear path forward for fulfilling its longstanding mission of supporting high-quality intensive and immersive Jewish educational experiences in Washington State, including its commitment to Jewish day schools, camps, and Israel experiences, and vital initiatives in the State of Israel. And, in the process, Samis identified a strategic impact goal to increase accessibility and participation in high-quality experiential Jewish education for Jewish youth in Washington State. The new RFP is a first step in actualizing this goal.
Samis Foundation CEO Connie Kanter, recently explained the rationale and strategy for developing an open request for proposal for youth enrichment and engagement programs. “We see the RFP as a fantastic opportunity to support the expansion of existing youth programs, foster cross-communal collaborations and support new program creation through our newly launched Samis Experiential Education Incubator Fund. Our investment will help us to meaningfully reach more kids across the state, particularly those living in smaller communities outside the Seattle area.” Jerome Cohen, Chair of Samis’ Experiential Education Sub-Committee emphasized, “Experiential Jewish education is a vibrant and growing field of Jewish education which provides families with the opportunity to select the program that best fits the unique needs and interests of their child. Many families are not choosing formal Jewish educational settings to convey Jewish content and knowledge to their children today, so this initiative allows us to have a greater impact across a broader cross-section of youth.”
Experiential Jewish education features a diverse array of intensive and immersive educational options including camps, teen Israel experiences, youth groups, and other youth enrichment and engagement programs. The Samis Foundation has invested nearly $9 million since inception in support of experiential Jewish education. Support for the three Washington State Jewish overnight camps and need-based camp scholarship programs represent the bulk of grant-making to date in this area. In recent years, the Foundation expanded its experiential education philanthropy by launching a grant pilot program in teen Israel experiences, supporting teens attending a variety of summer and academic year programs.
Samis philanthropy in the youth enrichment and engagement category began in earnest in 2017. From 2017-2021, Samis executed a youth enrichment and engagement pilot program, providing six different Jewish youth programs based in the Seattle area with three-year grants. As a direct result of Samis’ strategic plan to shift towards data-driven decision making and assessment, in the Summer of 2021 the Foundation hired Rosov Consulting to conduct its first formal program impact evaluation survey. The findings affirmed that experiential Jewish youth programs build Jewish identity, increase Jewish knowledge and commitment to Israel, and serve as pipelines for further engagement in the Jewish community.
The objective of the RFP process is to inspire program development and identify a cross-section of programs throughout Washington State that can reach youth with intensive, immersive Jewish experiential educational programs. The Foundation is interested in funding programs serving youth in K-12th grade. Eligible programs include those with an emphasis on knowledge and connection to Judaism, the Jewish community, and the Jewish people; historical and cultural knowledge; connection to the State of Israel and the Hebrew language; Israel advocacy and knowledge of antisemitism and how to combat it; and philanthropy and citizenship through a Jewish lens. Jewish youth groups, new and existing youth serving programs, and synagogue-based experiential programs are eligible to apply.
Samis is encouraging organizations to submit proposals for different types of programs, to consider collaborating with other organizations for program development, and to apply for grants to support youth program directors’ professional development. Priority consideration will be given to programs that demonstrate connections and collaborations with other organizations, serve youth in K-8th grade, and represent a new initiative.
“This RFP has tremendous potential to increase accessibility to programs and participation rates of Jewish youth in experiential education” said Ariel Lapson, Samis’ Program Officer for Experiential Education. “Substantive, high-quality and relevant Jewish youth programs are imperative for cultivating Jewish identity and ensuring our young people remain inspired to continue their involvement with the Jewish community well into the future. We are excited to expand our philanthropic footprint by making strategic investments in this area in the years to come!”
In 2020, the Samis Foundation reached a milestone of $100 million in philanthropy, supporting more than 150 programs, organizations, and initiatives since its inception. This includes grants to Seattle-area Jewish day schools; Jewish overnight camps in Washington State; youth enrichment and engagement programs in the Seattle area; and teen Israel experiences. Initiatives in Israel have been focused on improving the lives of at-risk populations on the peripheries of Israeli society including support for immigrants, higher education and technical training, domestic violence programs, supporting the poor and social mobility programs, widows and orphans, and on preserving and developing Israel’s wildlife and archaeological riches.
Questions? Check our RFP FAQ
To learn more about the Samis Foundation’s Strategic Plan for Philanthropy, visit https://samisfoundation.org/vision-and-mission/
About the Samis Foundation Founded in 1994 to fulfill the charitable mission and vision of Samuel Israel, the Samis Foundation is Washington State’s largest Jewish philanthropic organization. The Foundation supports intensive, immersive Jewish education in Washington State, and strategic initiatives in the State of Israel. Key funding priorities in Washington include Jewish day schools, overnight Jewish summer camps, teen Israel experiences, and youth enrichment and engagement programs. Priority program areas in Israel include support for people on the peripheries of Israeli society and investments in archaeology and wildlife conservation.