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New survey on innovation landscape

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Jumpstart and several U.S. and European foundations are set to begin a broader follow-up to the "2008 Survey of New Jewish Organizations" and "The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape" report.

The "2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives," which began by invitation Wednesday, will ask a number of probing questions to Jewish organizations formed over the past 10 years to find out who runs them and how they have fared during the recession.

Several changes to this year’s survey will make it different from the one that Jumpstart conducted in the fall of 2008.

For one, the survey is expanding to Europe. Along with its partners from the first survey, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation and Natan, Jumpstart is now working with the Pears Foundation and ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators to figure out the innovation landscape in Europe.

Jumpstart also has launched a Web site where organizations can self-register to take the survey if they qualify. Check out The Fundermentalist blog to read more about the survey.

And visit survey.jewishecosystem.org to take the survey.

Fundermentalist’s take: If Jack Wertheimer’s “Linking the Silos” report was the seminal study of the early part of the last decade, one could make the case that “The Innovation Ecosystem” was certainly the report that has been cited most often over the past year-and-a-half.

The follow-up should provide interesting data and insight into how the Jewish world has evolved over the past 10 to 15 years, and raise important questions about the way forward.

Say this new survey finds that the past decade’s most successful Jewish start-ups have been started generally by people who graduated from day schools or had serious Jewish upbringings either in terms of family life or structured Jewish extracurricular activities. Would foundations and donors who have been wrapped up in finding the next best sexy thing suddenly shift more attention to old stand-bys like day schools?

And what if the survey discovers that Birthright alumni have started few new organizations? Would some of the big money behind Birthright begin to question whether what is currently the largest expenditure in innovative Jewish programming is actually the right investment?

I posed the questions to Shawn Landres, the co-founder and CEO of Jumpstart. 

“If we found out that absolutely everyone went to day school, I would not say that funding should shift, but we should ask, ‘What is it about a day school education that is producing this — and how could day schools be better equipped to produce more?” he said. “If we found that nobody [we surveyed] went on Birthright, it wouldn’t mean Birthright is not effective. It would mean that maybe Birthright is creating new lay leaders.”

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