ECE Initiative

Leading Funders Announce Sharona Israeli-Roth as Founding President for EarlyJ, a New Initiative Transforming Bay Area Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE)

For Immediate Release 

April 19, 2023

San Francisco — The Rodan Family Foundation and the Koum Family Foundation are pleased to announce EarlyJ, a new joint philanthropic venture aimed at transforming the reach and quality of Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE) across the Bay Area. The project will be led by Sharona Israeli-Roth, the Founding President and Executive Director.

Israeli-Roth comes into this new role with more than two decades of experience as a Jewish educational leader, with a history of building innovative new programs. Most recently, Israeli-Roth served as Vice President of Online Education for the Israeli American Council (IAC) where she spearheaded the OFEK Learning Hub and other programs serving students and educators worldwide. Israeli-Roth is a native of Israel who has called San Francisco home for almost 25 years. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Education from the Open University in Israel and an M.A. in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University.

With a strong pool of candidates from across the country, Yana Kalika, President of the Koum Family Foundation, shared that Sharona Israeli-Roth stood out to us, bringing a lifelong commitment to high-quality Jewish education, a dynamic and creative energy, and a track record of leading teams to develop cutting edge initiatives.Over the coming months, Israeli-Roth will build out a team to launch EarlyJ and invest over $27 million in the next five years to catalyze Bay Area ECE growth.

The Rodan Family Foundation and the Koum Family Foundation have seeded this work with a combined $12 million over five years, in addition to $2 million raised for early East Bay pilot projects. Additional anchor funding partners are invited to contribute to the $13.5 million balance to fully fund this work over the next five years. EarlyJ’s goals include reaching 25% of Bay Area Jewish families with preschool-age children by 2027, which is as high as a 4x increase in some local communities and an additional 10,000 children and families overall.

This new venture builds off a pilot launched in 2019 by the Rodan Family Foundation and its partners in the East Bay, serving as a test lab to learn before scaling across the Bay Area and beyond. We have learned that building a strong and sustainable ECE infrastructure requires a holistic, multi-pronged approach, with significant investments across four key areas”, says Elana Rodan Schuldt, President and CEO of the Rodan Family Foundation.

These areas include:

There will be more to come as the initiative ramps up to serve Jewish families across the Bay Area. For additional information, please contact Mark Reisbaum, Philanthropy Advisor, Rodan Family Foundation, at mark@reisbaum.com, Alexandra LaForge, Director of Programs, Koum Family Foundation, at alexandra@k18n.org or Founding President Sharona Israeli-Roth at sroth@earlyj.org.


EarlyJ is a fiscally sponsored program of the Hopewell Fund.