AVI CHAI NA Highlights of 2013

by AVI CHAI staff

As we kick off 2014, we want to provide an update on new program development in the year just completed. In 2013, AVI CHAI worked with operating and funding partners to design and/or launch 11 new initiatives. These new programs are fruits of our continued efforts to join with other funders to co-develop programs that advance Jewish day school and overnight summer camp. As we look toward our sunset in 2020 (read the latest report on our spend-down here), we see facilitating the work of other funders in this field as a key priority.

Here is a brief inventory of the new programs in 2013, some of which are already being offered by our grantees, and some of which we expect to be available soon:

  • In the area of day school leadership, we have joined with other funders to enable the launch of three new programs addressing leadership needs in a range of different day school constituencies: RAVSAK’s Head of School Professional Excellence Project, which matches experienced or recently-retired heads of Community day schools with new heads of schools for coaching and mentoring, co-funded with the Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Foundation and an anonymous funder; RAVSAK’s SuLaM 2.0, co-funded with an anonymous funder for the training of lay leadership in Community day schools; and YU Lead, a program of Yeshiva University School Partnership (YUSP) to generate a pipeline of new professional leaders in Modern and Centrist Orthodox schools. These programs augment established programs to enable the day school field to be led by strong and effective leaders committed to Jewish literacy, religious engagement and the Jewish people/State of Israel.
  • In online and blended learning, we joined with Affordable Jewish Education and the Kohelet Foundation to launch BOLD, the first experiment to implement blended learning in established day schools in a dramatic way. We have also been working with YUSP and the Virtual High School, an organization outside the Jewish community, to develop the Online Judaic Studies Consortium, the first effort to develop multi-course, teacher-created Judaic study programs on a collaborative model. Both programs are motivated by the twofold goals of improving the quality and bringing down the cost of day school education.
  • In the area of day school finance, the pilot program iCap will aim to improve student retention in and encourage enrollment of middle income families through capping a family’s total tuition at a fixed percentage of its pre-tax income. The program is being piloted in New York and in Toronto, where it is co-funded with the Centre for Jewish Education – UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
  • BASIS 2.0 is a new version of a program initially funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation in San Francisco. The new program, which works to integrate Israel education across a day school’s curriculum, is set to launch in January in partnership with the iCenter. The AVI CHAI grant will be matched by a contribution from the participating schools.
  • The Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) is an effort to promote high-quality research that informs the policies and practices of Jewish education. It is co-funded with the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation.
  • In summer camping, a pilot initiative is currently being developed that will address affordability and create an innovative way to make Jewish camp more accessible. It will be launched this February, operated by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and funded by a collaboration of philanthropists. (Look for the forthcoming FJC announcement for more details!) In addition, AVI CHAI and the Marcus Foundation funded the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Bringing it Back Home program, which hopes to build on the personal growth gained by Israelis who worked at North American summer camps by connecting them to religious, civic, political and other organizations in Israel. Finally, in partnership with the Steinhardt Foundation and Areivim, we funded the pilot of a day camp Hebrew immersion program at Camp Ramah Nyack. Three JCC day camps are expected to experiment with the model this summer with funding from additional partners in the Areivim philanthropic collaborative.

We look forward to spending 2014 working with our grantees and funding partners to implement and further develop these very ambitious programs. We look forward to updating you about our progress in 2014. You can follow our journey in the coming year on our blog, on Twitter (@AVICHAIFDN), and on Facebook. Additionally, more information about our programs and work in North America can be found on our website.