Areas of Focus


The Foundation supports economically disadvantaged individuals and families. We seek programs that promote and strengthen skills and learning to better oneself on the way to self-sufficiency.

The Foundation gives priority to programs from the following fields of interest: family partnering in early education, employment and self-sufficiency, and active learning for preteens and teens.

Family Partnering in Early Education

Comprehensive programs in which parents/caregivers become partners in their child’s education by providing an environment in the home that reinforces learning in school. Top funding priorities include programs which focus on narrowing the achievement gap through early learning skills, language development, reading readiness and math readiness. Supporting the parent/caregiver who is learning and mastering the same skill set to learn alongside their child is equally important.

These areas of interest share many common characteristics including:

• Focus is on prevention rather than remediation
• Adhere to an evolving but well-tested program design
• Focus on critical periods of family and child development and reach families at their most teachable moments
• Work long term with families/caregivers as a whole instead of serving only individuals
• Encourage parental/caregiver input and decision making in the program to ensure cultural competency, accountability and leadership development
• Promote peer learning and mentoring among parents and primary caregivers
• Identify meaningful program outcomes that support program management and planning

Employment and Self-Sufficiency

This program component is intended to help individuals gain economic security through programs that make it feasible to become and remain employed. Foundation criteria require comprehensive delivery of a broad range of educational and/or vocational services. These should include cultural orientation, English language training, interview preparation, job search assistance, job placement and post employment support. An ‘On the Job’ training component is encouraged.

The Foundation seeks to support programs that feature the following characteristics:

• Bring low-income or dislocated workers into the economic mainstream
• Collect aggregate outcome data related to skills advancement, credentialing, job placement, job retention or earnings
• Maximize the use of technology for monitoring programs and outcomes
• Build formal connections with employers
• Develop innovative partnerships with other organizations to maximize client success
• Have explicit retention strategies and post-placement supports

Active Learning

This program component includes after-school or year-round enrichment for preteens and teens through supplemental or alternative experiences.  Programs should  offer hands-on, experiential learning, have real-world relevance ,   support the development of career-specific skills, and build 21st century workplace capabilities such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking. Programs should involve a meaningful commitment over a sustained period of time, such as year-long or school year programs versus summer only*.

The A. C. Ratshesky Foundation is particularly interested in supporting youth-serving organizations or programs with the following design elements**:

  • Real-world relevance
  • Ill-defined problem
  • Sustained investigation
  • Multiple sources/perspectives
  • Collaboration
  • Reflection
  • Interdisciplinary perspective

*Please see Frequently Asked Questions for Active Learning.

**Adapted from Marilyn Lombardi’s white paper: Authentic Learning in the 21st Century: An Overview


Support for Disadvantaged Jewish Populations

In keeping with the Foundation’s original declaration of trust, support for programs that serve disadvantaged Jewish populations are of special interest. These programs must align with one or more of the three fields of interest identified above.