Chicago Early Engagement Leadership
[Skip ahead to the Expression of Interest form]
The URJ's new vision of “Expanding Our Reach” has to date provided congregations with opportunities to examine and learn about how families with young children can connect with each other and engage with the Jewish community. Our Community of Practice strategy (CoP), launched in January 2013, has begun to shift the paradigm regarding families with young children in 10 congregations across North America by participating in the Pursuing Excellence Through Your Early Childhood Center CoP.
With support from the Chicago-based Crown Family Philanthropies, the URJ will deepen its commitment to expand Jewish engagement by creating a pilot program focused on early childhood centers. These centers will seek to engage young families through curriculum excellence, experiential Jewish learning and strengthening meaningful relationships.
The grant provides the opportunity to create an innovative Chicago-based cohort of 12 Jewish early childhood centers open to congregations from various denominations, JCCs and other local organizations. Professionals in the community expressed their interest in such an initiative a year ago with building a diverse coalition of organizations devoted to engaging families with young children as a key goal. This unique aspect of learning together and supporting one another in these efforts is appealing to both the directors and the larger Chicago Jewish community.
By participating in the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative (CEELI), early childhood centers will further their efforts to build a network of collaborators that is adaptable, responsive and opportunistic. Together, these 12 centers will be better equipped to handle the demands of changing structures
within their organization and the expansion of federal initiatives leading many early childhood programs to grow into full-day programs. The cohort of CoPs will also become the nexus for serving young families in their community; together they will expose thousands of Jewish families with young children to a variety of programs and opportunities for meaningful engagement and long-term involvement in the Jewish community.
Applicants will be selected based on various criteria including level of support from the host institution and their commitment to work in a collaborative environment. Centers will develop outcome measures regarding enrollment, teacher development, program excellence, family relationships, operational flexibility
and marketing. After studying the field, lay and professional teams from each center will assess their current approach to early childhood education and family engagement. While exploring new models leadership teams will learn with
each other and with local partners including the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Center directors and lead teachers will receive stipends to encourage experimentation and to provide educators with strong professional development opportunities
Susan Zukrow has been named the Project Director for the CEELI. URJ staff including Cathy Rolland, Lisa Lieberman Barzilai and Natalie Kianoff along with an outside consultant Amy Asin serve as advisors to this endeavor. Centers in
the CEELI will have opportunities to share their successes with the broader Chicago Jewish community and throughout the Reform Movement, helping to raise early childhood excellence and early engagement as community-wide priorities across North America.
EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FORM
Tell us about your congregation so that we can begin to get to know you. This is the first step in the application process for the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative.
Please note that this initiative is limited to synagogues that have an existing Pre-school/Early Childhood Center.
Contact our Project Director, Susan Zukrow, with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org