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PJ Kids Roadshow

PJ Library is an international, award-winning outreach program committed to increase and deepen Jewish identity and connection by mailing free, high-quality Jewish children’s books and music to families raising Jewish children. UJA Federation has piloted PJ Library in York Region and is committed to securing funding to take the program across the GTA. In just one year over 1,500 families in York Region with children between the ages of 6 months and 5½ years old have registered. Parents and children are sharing quiet moments together reading and talking about the Jewish concepts and ideas presented by the books and participating in periodic programming. PJ Library has created a trusted brand for these parents, many of whom are unaffiliated with the organized community. We are seeking support, both financial and intellectual, from SixPoints JVPF to build on and extend the PJ Library brand and platform to create PJ Kids Roadshow. PJ Kids Roadshow goes beyond the books and general programming to meet the demand for excellent, affordable, in-home, educational programs offered through a Jewish lens. This will be done by building a professional network of the best educators, storytellers, musicians and entertainers to deliver in-home programming for young Jewish families and creating online tools for our target audience to learn about, access and provide feedback for these programs. Our goal is to create welcoming, Jewish-focused in-home and online opportunities for families to connect to one another, build community and affiliation.


• Across the Greater Toronto Area there are 14,000 Jewish pre-school age children living in 9,660 families
• 60% of Jewish children, including pre-school age, receive no formal Jewish education
• 20% of Jewish marriages are interfaith, 59% of the children in these households are being raised as Jews
• 50% of Jews do not attend High Holiday services, an indicator of limited affiliation to organized religious life
• Most parents are unaware of the Jewish programs offered in their community and choose secular programs that are more visible (“Jewish Early Engagement in New York,” UJA Federation of New York, 2010).
Many of these unaffiliated, under-affiliated and/or intermarried families are still looking to connect to other young Jewish families. This is exemplified most clearly where you see young families ‘affiliate through their mortgages,’ paying a premium to live in a Jewish area. While they want to live in a Jewish community and associate with other Jewish families, these families are not willing, or not able to commit to the financial burden of synagogue memberships or day school tuition. Other families live in neighbourhoods with very few Jews and would like to connect with other Jewish families to give their children a sense of community.
PJ Kids Roadshow is an innovative way to incorporate Judaism into family life at a time when parents are exploring how they want to raise their children and looking to engage and connect them with community. As an extension of The PJ Library brand, this unique initiative will attract unaffiliated, young Jewish families by increasing points of access, lowering barriers to participation and integrating Jewish engagement with everyday life.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

• Continue to leverage and deepen the relationship with 1500+ young families developing through The PJ Library experience
• Attract young Jewish families in York Region and across the GTA that are currently unaffiliated with the organized community
• Meet families & connect to them where they are most comfortable
• Integrate Jewish engagement with everyday life
• Increase levels of affiliation & connections to the Jewish community

• Create a roster of storytellers, entertainers, educators, musicians to provide in-home, Jewish-focused
programming for young Jewish families:
- Provide training and support to this roster to ensure excellence in Jewish content
- Identify up-and-coming presenters to ensure PJ Kids Roadshow is synonymous with excellence and innovative programming that parents won’t want their kids to miss
- Use SixPoints funding to sign contracts with the roster ensuring their availability as the initiative is rolled out. These funds will be replenished through fees paid by participants and will be used to seed programming initiatives
• Provide a one-stop, mobile-friendly web portal to locate, register, recommend and rate programs including video content. Participation on the site may be enhanced using game mechanics
• Offer social networking tool to connect like-minded parents
• Promote current programs and services for families in the Jewish community
• Identify gaps in services and opportunities to increase levels of affiliation

Defining and measuring success will come from monitoring growth in repeat customers, referrals and continued engagement. Each program will require its own protocol for accountability and evaluation. Quality and impact will be evaluated. A data driven approach will be initiated to identify strengths and weaknesses, setting goals and generating improvements by:
• Designing intake interview protocols in focus groups
• Facilitating a dialogue on a strategic approach to these issues
• Developing a comprehensive work plan
• Developing an active communication plan
In addition, the customer relationship management system (CRM), already in place in UJA Federation, will help us track participation rates and facilitate relationship building with young parents and families to better understand their needs and make them aware of services and programs in the Jewish community.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

There are many ways in which support and input is desired from the SixPoints Fund members:
• Web site & technology services
• Business development, analysis & marketing
• Teaching & Education
• Graphic Design
• Social media expertise
• PR & media networking

Time Frame: 

January 2012-December 2013


PJ Kids Roadshow is an extension of PJ Library in York Region, a Jewish identity program spearheaded by UJA Federation, and supervised by UJA's Jewish Information Serivce of Greater Toronto (JIST).

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

PJ Library in York Region has a proven track record with young families. Through one-on-one conversations, monthly newsletters and programs, Elyse Tytel, Coordinator has developed a relationship with PJ parents and grandparents, the 200+ families outside of York Region on the wait list for PJ Library as well as community partners who want to connect with these families.
Elyse is an experienced PJ Library professional with a background in marketing, event coordination and as a print, radio and television reporter. These give her a unique skill set to act a resource as PJ Kids Roadshow is developed and launched, to manage the program after the first year and to continue to build relationships with young families.
This initiative will be under the supervision of Jewish Information Service. Barbara Barak, JIST's Senior Coordinator has over 30 years of volunteer and professional experience in the Jewish community. In addition, she has an educational and work background as a Librarian specializing in Children's Services and was the lead staff person launching and now managing the community engagement section of UJA's website.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

New & innovative - This concept of one-stop-shopping for Jewish programming has yet to be explored on this scale. Individual classes may exist but are not Jewish-centric and involve extensive research. Nor is there a way to connect to other young Jewish families searching for the same.
Sustainable - At the end of SIxPoints funding, PJ Kids Roadshow will generate sufficient revenue from registration to cover all costs including website maintenance and marketing. Ongoing management of the program will be done by existing PJ Library and JIST staff.
Scalability - This program could include many different categories of in-home educational programs for school aged children, bar mitzvah age children, teens and adult education with a natural progression to partnerships within the Jewish community.
Replicable - The concept and tools can be made available to communities throughout Ontario and Canada and shared wherever PJ Library is launched (currently in 140+ communities in North America and Australia).
Leverage - This program will build on the relationships that already exist through The PJ Library. PJ Kids Roadshow will partner with established networks including The PJ Library (national), Jewish Information Service, Centre for Jewish Education, The Koffler Centre of the Arts and the Schwartz/Reisman Centre.