Our Stories

SF Federation and Jewish LearningWorks Form New Partnership to Support Early Childhood Educators

By Dana Sheanin, Jewish LearningWorks CEO and Joy Sisisky, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund CEO
Reading time: 3 minutes


The San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, and Jewish LearningWorks (JLW) are thrilled to announce a new partnership to support Early Childhood educators over the next several years. We have always embraced the belief that an early connection to Jewish principles is critical to sustaining community vitality. We also know that access to a quality Jewish education is a powerful launching pad for life-long participation in Jewish life and deepening connection to Jewish values.

Over the past years, the Federation has dedicated significant time, energy, and funding to make the Bay Area a nationally renowned place of development and support for Early Childhood Education (ECE). This effort has included drawing together the players in the ECE space and building new strategies and partnerships, alongside in-house professional expertise that formed some of our groundbreaking and pioneering initiatives—from the Jewish Resource Specialists to annual seminars and conferences. Some of this work has been replicated outside the Bay Area Early and contributed to a more effective ECE sector nationwide.

We deeply appreciate two exceptional leaders who have made unparalleled strides in this field. Janet Harris is a beloved and highly regarded architect and steward of this work. Her role ended at Federation earlier this year. We also credit Denise Moyes-Schnur, who is staying on with the Federation part-time until the end of the school year, leading ECE Directors Forum and the To Teach and to Learn: Higher Education Partnership with American Jewish University.

Beginning in July 2023, a new partnership with JLW will focus on building the community’s talent pipeline through coaching and mentoring, cohort-based learning, and educator affinity groups. JLW will be hiring an additional educator with ECE expertise, to complement their existing team and serve children from preschool through high school. For 125 years, JLW has invested in professional development for teachers in all settings. Our new strategic plan aligns with our mutual vision, focusing on building the community’s talent pipeline, and elevating the field of Jewish education.

The Federation has committed to funding the new JLW educator position and providing program support through the end of the 2025 school year. Dr. Kathy Schwartz, JLW’s Senior Director of Professional Learning, will work with Denise Moyes-Schnur and the ECE director’s council to create a strong foundation for transition this spring. At the end of this grant, we will continue to evaluate the needs of the community alongside local funders, and new national initiatives to determine how best to support the ECE educator and student community.

The Federation appreciates the feedback received from ECE professionals over the past several months. Together, are committed to sustaining the Bay Area’s early childhood programs and professionals, through what we know has been an exceptionally difficult time. We thank you for your patience and support, as we begin this transition.