Project Focused Learning Initiative Grant for Jewish Day Schools and Congregational Schools | Facing History & Ourselves

Project Focused Learning Initiative Grant for Jewish Day Schools and Congregational Schools

Learn more about our Project Focused Learning Initiative Grant, see some highlights from previous schools, and apply to join

About the Grant

The Project-Focused Learning Initiative fosters teacher leadership and enhances student creativity. This cross disciplinary learning experience, involves several teachers from across a school to support students in developing a project that deepens their study of the Holocaust. This project goes beyond the classroom to impact the greater school community. Under the Project Focused Learning Initiative grant, schools apply to receive Facing History funding to develop a year-long project on the Holocaust and related aspects of Jewish history.  Facing History provides selected schools with expertise, mentorship and generous financial support to conceive, develop, and implement school projects for two consecutive years. Additionally, the educators involved in these projects will convene in-person once a year to share their learnings and grow in their own practice for future years of implementation.


Some highlights from the projects made possible by the grant include an art exhibit about Jewish resistance throughout history, including during the Ancient period and the Middle Ages and up to World War II. This participating school, Yeshivah of Flatbush, worked with the education department at the Museum of Jewish Heritage to conduct workshops on curating exhibits. Yeshivah of Flatbush students created a dynamic, hands-on exhibit called “living Resistance” which was displayed at the Museum of  Jewish Heritage in New York City.  The teacher who led the art component of the project commented: “Art has been linked to anti conformism throughout the ages. The greatest asset to any hate group is conformity, the willingness to not say something. Art is saying something.”

Another project, at Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, included a year-long study on portraiture in which the students learned how a thoughtful photographer tells a story in a single portrait by capturing the subject in all his or her complexity. Students used this study to take their own portraits of survivors in their community and are hosting an exhibit for parents and community members.

Pamela Joye, portrait photographer, facilitated a workshop for the students on portraiture. She commented: “It is interesting that in today’s world kids take photographs all the time, more than at any other time in history.  Instagram and other social media provide a platform for that and make it so easy.  But it is a disposable culture of pictures. I tried to get them to slow down and encouraged them to think about how to photograph someone in a way that is meaningful. I encouraged them to spend time with the person they would photograph, and find out who they are. ”

The Facing History and Ourselves’ funding has allowed for additional ways of using art to think about Sinai Brookline’s connection to and upholding of Jewish values. In celebration of Hanukkah this December, Sinai Brookline hosted Brighter Ignited, a light-inspired art installation created by Boston artist Tova Speter. Our students, their families, and additional adult congregants engaged with the piece to conceptualize what it means to create change in their communities. As Tova describes it, Brighter Ignited is a “super-sized interactive light display [which] features illuminated artwork by hundreds of participants who were asked: when there is something you are passionate about, dedicated to, and ready to stand up for, how do you ignite action?” Sinai Brookline staff encouraged students and congregants to think about the causes they care about and the qualities they possess that might ignite change – and how they can draw upon Jewish history and values to stand up for what they believe in. On one of the shortest days of the year, participants collectively illuminated their answers against the backdrop of winter’s darkness.

Apply to join Project Focused Learning Initiative Grant for Jewish Day Schools and Congregational Schools here.