Talent Innovation Grants

Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) believes that counselors are the linchpin of the camping experience. And yet, as the world changes, camps are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best staff possible. In October 2021, FJC convened a broad cross-section of the North American Jewish camp community to examine reasons for declining counselor recruitment and retention rates and to make recommendations about how to combat these trends systematically and collaboratively. This process illuminated a great deal about the counselor experience and its many current challenges and opportunities. Working as an ecosystem with a shared belief in the importance and power of Jewish camp, we must move beyond the structures and models that have been stagnating for years and reimagine a new and more resonant version of camp whose value proposition for campers, counselors, parents/caregivers, and the entire community, is stronger than ever.   

Starting now and over the next three years, the field of Jewish camp must invest in and execute an action plan designed to sustainably increase counselor recruitment and retention rates and positively transform the camp experience for the benefit of campers, counselors, and all camp stakeholders. The plan can only be successful, and the desired outcomes reached, if the field has the right support and resources to implement it with excellence.  

FJC will grant funding to individual camps to pilot new and innovative ideas such as new staff positions, increased staff benefits or compensation, and reimagined staff training. Together, we will test these strategies, evaluate them, and scale them to the larger field.   


Apply Now

All applications are due by 11:59pm PT on March 25, 2022 

To preview the application before applying, please click here.

 

Grant Types

There are three types of Talent Innovation Grants available for summer 2022: 

  1. Grants for New Professional Positions – hire a year-round professional to your team, focused on the staff experience, recruitment, and retention.
  2. Grants for Innovations in Counselor Recruitment & Retention – reimagine the future of camp staffing with a big experiment this summer.
  3. Grants for Training for Seasonal Camp Supervisors – significantly elevate supervision at camp this summer with use of the performance management and professional development tools from our partners at e21.
1 - Grants for New Professional Positions

The work of camp professionals has grown in complexity over time. In the rush to meet the expanding needs of campers and their families, many camps do not have the bandwidth to prioritize the counselors’ experience and development. To meet this need, FJC will support camps in adding new professional staff positions to their teams whose portfolios focus on staff life at camp. In this pilot group, FJC will grant funds to six camps to support the hiring of up to six year-round professionals.

These pilot camps will experiment and learn with FJC regarding the ideal responsibilities and scope of these positions, as we scale this opportunity to more camps in 2023. While titles and responsibilities may differ from camp to camp, potential broad areas of focus for those taking on this job would include staff hiring, year-round engagement, staff programming and appreciation during the summer, Jewish education for staff, and supporting the arc of a staff member’s professional growth. The individuals in these new roles will also pilot a field-wide community of practice which will allow them to learn from one another and the FJC team.  

  • Grant length: 2 years (2022-2024) 
  • Number of Grants: 6
  • Grant amount*: Full time position – $40,000 per year; Part-time position – $20,000 per year.

*Balance of compensation and all benefits are to be covered by the hiring camp.  

Grant Specific Eligibility Criteria 

  • A readiness to hire a professional into this role by mid-May 2022 
  • Commit to hiring this professional for two years at minimum 
  • New hire attends a brief virtual gathering the week of May 30th with FJC and other participating camps 
  • Submit audited financials and/or a current 990 document

Note: Camps may apply to use this funding to expand on an existing role (i.e. hire someone who is currently part-time into a full-time role, or expand a seasonal position into a year-round one).  

2 - Grants for Innovations in Counselor Recruitment & Retention

It is time to take a fresh look at how camps are staffed and operated to disrupt the current challenges in staff recruitment and retention. FJC will provide camps with the risk capital and support to try something big and experimental this summer, so we can learn together what exemplary practices in camp staffing of the future can look like. Camps have an opportunity to “blow up” their staffing models by trying new compensation structures, new job titles and responsibilities for those with different skills and interests, and new summer staffing models and schedules. Camps may test new daily schedules that start with staff needs in mind, offer shorter contracts, or hybrid summer experiences that combine work at camp with other enrichment experiences, or another idea that challenges the current norms. With these experiments, we aim to iterate, to evaluate, and to scale successful ideas to the field, reimagining for many what could be the essential role, responsibilities, and structures of being a camp staff member.  

  • Grant length: 9 months – April 2022 – December 2022 
  • Number of Grants: up to 5 
  • Grant amount: $5,000-$20,000

Grant Specific Eligibility Criteria 

  • Submit audited financials and/or a current 990 document 
  • Attend the Talent Grant innovation workshop on April 12th 11am-4pm ET (8am-1pm PT)
3 - Grants for Training for Seasonal Camp Supervisors

Research from the Staff Satisfaction Insight survey shows that a key driver of staff satisfaction and likelihood of returning next summer is the staff member’s relationship and experience with their direct supervisor. Young adult supervisors regularly describe camp positions that leave them burnt out and their direct reports without adequate support to do their jobs. According to SSI results in 2019, only 67% of counselors reported receiving clear and timely feedback on their performance from their direct supervisor. In focus groups, current unit heads and activity area supervisors reported feeling unprepared for their roles and unsure of expectations. Many camp directors reported feeling pressed for time to adequately train this group and expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the training they do provide on essential supervisory skills. Bolstering seasonal camp supervisors (unit, age group, and activityarea heads) will enhance the overall work environment, camp culture, and ultimately the satisfaction of staff, campers, and their families.  

 

In partnership with e21, a cohort of camps will be selected to participate and gain access to the outstanding performance management tools and professional development resources provided by e21. Through the e21 frameworks and training, Jewish camps will professionalize the supervision experience, improve staff performance, enhance staff communication, and much more. Learn more about e21 at https://www.e21.org/ 

  • Grant length: 2 years – Summer 2022 and Summer 2023 (prep work with e21 begins in late March 2022) 
  • Number of Grants: 10 
  • Grant amount: $10,000 ($5000/year) – these funds will be paid directly to e21 to cover the cost of camp’s participation and are not awarded to the individual camp.

Grant Specific Eligibility Criteria 

  • Attend an approximately 3-hour, virtual, pre-summer on boarding meeting with the e21 team during the first week of April  
  • Camp may not have previously participated in e21 
  • Camp may not already be receiving other grant funds specifically for e21 participation this summer 
  • Commit to 2 years minimum of participation with e21’s performance management system 

Timeline

All applications are due by 11:59pm PT on March 25, 2022 

Applications Open  March 1, 2022 
Application Deadline  March 25, 2022 
Grantees Informed  March 30, 2022 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for any of the 3 grant opportunities, camps must: 

  1. Have a desire to increase staff recruitment and retention and to meaningfully enhance the overall staff experience at camp and for the entire field.  
  2. Have full-time, year-round professional leadership with a track record of success and delivering programmatic excellence.  
  3. Participate in the Camper Satisfaction Insight Survey and the Staff Satisfaction Insight Survey each summer that grant funds are awarded 
  4. Commit to providing FJC with timely feedback as part of its overall counselor experience research by completing all required evaluation surveys and participating in any qualitative evaluation discussions regarding the grant. 
  5. Meet all of FJC’s network criteria.  All FJC network camps, both day and overnight, in the United States and Canada, are invited to apply.

 

With questions, please contact Teri McGuire, Program Manager at teri@jewishcamp.org.