Yeshivat He'Atid Wins OU Day School Affordability Challenge Grant

Yeshivat He’Atid is thrilled to announce that we have been selected a recipient of the Orthodox Union’s national “DAY SCHOOL AFFORDABILITY CHALLENGE GRANTS.”  The goal of the $150,000 in collective challenge grants is to develop “innovative and replicable solutions to address day school affordability.” The grants were announced on Monday at the two-day “Summit on the Affordability of Jewish Education” arranged by the OU to stimulate discussion and planning on dealing with this critical issue in Orthodox  life.

A brief description of our grant proposal: Yeshiva He’Atid 21st Century Judaic Studies Curricula Project, Bergenfield, NJ  -- Yeshiva He’Atid is anticipated to open in the fall of 2012. The school‘s goal is to create a new model that incorporates 21st century educational methods to increase the quality of education while also reducing tuition costs. The OU grant will be targeted toward the creation of a blended learning Judaic curriculum for K-2nd grade, which we believe can be used by other day schools throughout North America.

Check out the other challenge grant recipients below or read the official press release here:

·         Project Education Tuition Affordability Campaign, Project Education Council, Brooklyn, NY --The OU will fund program development and marketing for the campaign to change the culture of giving within the Sephardic community in Brooklyn, resulting in more dollars staying within the community for Jewish education.  According to its grant application, Project Education is a “new non-profit corporation in the Sephardic community with a mission of finding solutions that will alleviate tuition education costs” in a “community that has more than 10,000 children enrolled in more than a dozen yeshivot in New York and New Jersey.”

·          Corporate Citizenship, Denver Academy of Torah, Denver, CO -- The OU’s funds will be used to match a foundation grant for website development and graphic design of the Corporate Citizenship program which would allow businesses to give five percent to the Denver Academy of Torah (DAT) from business generated through the program.  Unlike traditional scrip programs, this initiative uses other business, like mortgage bankers and real estate agents. According to the application, DAT “has secured relationships with 11 businesses thus far,” which include two supermarkets, two realtors, a jeweler, an accountant, a mortgage broker and an investment advisor, as well as an online clothing store, meat store and tricycle store.”

·          Hillel Without Borders, The Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School, North Miami Beach, FL -- The OU will fund afterschool and adult education activities at the school.  The goal of these programs is to bring community members into the school with the goal of eventually increasing community involvement with the school.  According to the grant application, “Hillel Without Borders is a multi-phased initiative aimed at reenergizing the Jewish Education Support Circle of our community…by opening Hillel’s borders to the greater Jewish community of Miami Dade, allowing us to share and maximize the utilization of our valued resources (human, intellectual, physical and financial),” thus strengthening the local Jewish community.

·         Edollars, Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA -- The OU will provide funding for enhancement of the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh’s current “timebanx” program, which allows parents to volunteer at the school and receive monetized credits, in lieu of tuition for their volunteer commitment.  The OU grant will be targeted to mutually agreeable enhancements to the system that can assist other schools interested in implementing the program. In its application, the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh notes that “schools can save up to $250,000 in expenses per year in payroll areas such as the IT department, substitute teachers, lunch monitors, landscaping, building maintenance, administrative assistants, etc.” The program “has the direct dollar value of $50-$100 per hour. Parents earning that amount are receiving its exact value in exchange for tuition costs.”

·          The National Jewish Cooperative Day School Project, The Jewish Cooperative School, Hollywood, FL -- The OU grant will fund production of an online “Jewish Cooperative Day School Handbook,” that will assist parents across the country to form and manage their own Jewish cooperative day school or for day schools which seek to increase parent participation within their schools.  “A Cooperative Day School is one in which parents are required to bear the burdens of a school’s costs collectively and directly,” the grant application explains.  “There is no more efficient way to reduce Day School tuition costs while maintaining high educational standards than to empower motivated parents.”  This handbook will describe the experience of this school in creating and maintaining a cooperative structure.

·         The Online Resource Room, Scranton Hebrew Day School, Scranton, PA -- The OU will provide funding for eight students in four day schools for six months to allow demonstration that providing distance learning for special needs youngsters can be successful and cost saving.   The program began as a pilot project last year at the Scranton Hebrew Day School in which its resource room director “learned with six students across the country online in their homes as well as in school. In each live session,” the teacher “was able to replicate the quality and interactive techniques of my regular resource room… The Online Resource Room will literally reach out to every geographic area of the country irrespective of the size or location of the student’s community.” The OU’s Rabbi Isaacs, the grant program’s administrator, added, “We want to monitor the children to see if distance learning results in cost savings for the schools while meeting the needs of its students.”