DFW, Houston meet to talk incubator grant strategy
Submitted photo Childhood care groups from Dallas and Houston met in the Metroplex recently to compare notes and exchange information. Front Row: (from left) Heidi Kutchin, Lisa Gerstenfeld, Judy Morgan, Denise Sztainberg, and Nikita Williams. Second Row: (from left) Shoshana Isaacson, Leslie Slatko, and Aliza Plotkin. Third Row: (from left) Kelli Cohen, Faye Casell, Shelly Riklin, Tali Machfud, and Meredith Sakowitz. Back row: (from left) Leah Keller Crosbie, Alyse Eisenberg, Pam Jenkins, Helen Morgenstern, Gail Mabel, and Lindsey Retan.

By Ben Tinsley

DALLAS — Alyse Eisenberg recently had a second shot at employing her favored “support and collaboration” group principle.
Eisenberg’s very first opportunity came in August 2014, when she was awarded the Incubator Incentive Grant from the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
That grant was specifically provided for her to create a special group from which she and other early educators who work at Dallas Jewish early childhood centers could benefit. The group was titled “Dallas Early Childhood Community of Practice.”
Last month, Eisenberg received another chance to employ this principle.
She and members of her group invited some of their Houston counterparts to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in February and hosted them for a very special weekend.
The visiting group, titled “Houston Jewish Early Childhood Community of Practice,” came into existence a bit differently than their Dallas counterparts, explained representative Aliza Plotkin.
“We met through our interests in early childhood and started talking — we knew this was something that we wanted to have happen,” Plotkin said. “So we went to our (Houston Jewish) Federation for help. They didn’t have any grants but they wanted to support us. So we have been working it through.”
The February event began with a Sunday dinner during which both groups met for the very first time.
Much like the first culmination of Eisenberg’s dream to unite the Dallas Jewish early childhood community together, the weekend visit was a smash hit.
Fantastic ideas and new friendships abounded.
“We all met and we all became friends,” Eisenberg said. “I had always dreamed we would be able to meet.”
Aliza Plotkin said her crew had a great time.
“It was incredible,” Plotkin said. “We got so much out of it. There were teacher-leaders really emerging from our communities.”
The Houston group included Faye Casell, Pam Jenkins, Shelly Riklin, Helen Morgenstern, Meredith Sakowitz, Leslie Slatko, Shoshana Isaacson, Nikita Williams, Aliza Plotkin, and Denise Sztainberg.
The Dallas-area group included Heidi Kutchin, Leah Keller Crosbie, Eisenberg, Lindsey Retan, Gail Mabel, Tali Machfud, Kelli Cohen, Lisa Gerstenfeld and Judy Morgan.
Alyse Eisenberg said the Houston group had the opportunity to visit the schools with which Dallas participants are connected.
Eisenberg said this was a great activity to add to the momentum of her group’s two-year grant, which concludes at the end of this year.
CJW is on the verge of awarding its second wave of the Incubator Incentive Grants — available for anyone partnered with a 501(c)3 who wishes to impact Jewish education in Dallas.
In the first year, the grant awarded a total of $47,000. This year it will be a total of $40,000.
The awarding of this next round of grants will be announced at the Night to Celebrate Jewish Education in September, said Nina Stenzler, director of the JFGD’s Tycher Library.
“We have some great applicants and are excited about the possibilities for Jewish education in Dallas,” Stenzler said.
The grants are made possible by proceeds raised at the CJE’s Night to Celebrate Jewish Education, honoring local stakeholders in Dallas’ Jewish education landscape.

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