In support of the necessary goal of achieving financial stability and sustainability of the Jewish day school movement, the Avi Chai Foundation has made a $1.6 million grant to the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University (YU) to support YU’s comparative financial benchmarking work with 30 Jewish day schools in five communities across the country. The goal is to greatly improve their financial operations and planning and help make them more affordable without sacrificing quality.

The three-year capacity building grant, which is designed to match an equivalent amount of funding from local sources, including local foundations and federations, establishes a comprehensive program that involves comparative financial benchmarking, long-term financial planning, and extensive consulting support for those schools.

Local communities, with the support of their area philanthropists who view sustainable day schools as a key communal priority, are actively pursuing participation in the program, and the Institute is currently working on the selection process. The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) will provide consulting support to the program

YU and Avi Chai view the program as a “Phase I” effort, which, if proven successful, would ultimately be scaled up to encompass 200 schools in 30 communities.

“This initiative marks the first time such an all-encompassing effort of comparative financial analysis and long-range planning has been established on a communal level,” said Dr. Harry Bloom, the Institute’s director of planning and performance improvement. “It will provide great transparency into day school finances, from costs to revenue, so that they may achieve significant improvements based on hard facts, while preserving educational quality. Ultimately, our goal is to help these 30 schools achieve a 10% improvement in their finances, with a collective target value of $30 million in benefit to them.”

The initiative is an expansion of a pilot program facilitated by the Institute in several communities across the country, including Bergen County, NJ. That effort employed a “Benchmark Survey” to identify significant school-specific revenue enhancement and expense reduction opportunities.