February 6, 2012 – Boston, MA – Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) announced today that it is the recipient of a $1.89 million grant for serving Jewish day school students with a wide range of special learning needs. CJP will receive $1.69 million from the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) and $200,000 from the Ruderman Family Foundation.

CJP, partnering with Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, based in Newton, MA, and Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership in New York, will work with six Boston-area Jewish day schools to create “whole school” models for serving students with a range of learning needs. The grant will establish professional development and training programs to build the capacity of teachers and school leaders so that they are well-equipped to better address the needs of all students.

In the current education landscape, students with special needs are often the responsibility of special education staff and a limited number of school administrators. The goal of this program is to create a holistic approach. A school’s entire staff will become involved and responsible for students with a wide range of abilities. This will ultimately make Jewish day schools accessible to a wider population.

CJP will select six day schools in June to participate in the program: a first cohort of three schools will begin the program in September 2012 and a second cohort of three schools will begin in September 2013. Following a rigorous review and analysis process, CJP hopes the project will serve as a template for education across the United States.

The program is only one of CJP’s recent education initiatives aimed at ensuring that a Jewish day school education is accessible to a broad range of students and affordable for their families. Since 2005, CJP and Gateways have made a sustained effort to support schools in serving special needs students. Last year, CJP also expanded the “Discover Day School” initiative, which seeks to make day school more affordable for families.