With the power of a $3.1 million grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation over three years, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) has stimulated a six-figure investment from three communities in North America to address the very real challenge of day school affordability. The Generations pilot program, a three-way collaboration between PEJE, a federation or central Jewish agency, and AVI CHAI, seeks to transform the way schools fund their budgets by raising endowment and legacy gifts. The Generations program offers communities and schools expertise in building endowments through customized coaching, local and national training programs, assistance with potential donor identification, cultivation and stewardship, and the establishment of a national knowledge center to share best practices.
Generations will be piloted in three Jewish communities: THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore; Builders of Jewish Education (BJE), in Los Angeles; and a community to be announced. This first cohort will be launched in fall 2011. Working with PEJE, each community will select up to seven schools to receive coaching, training, marketing support, and incentives to create and achieve individual endowment and legacy campaign goals.
After 10 years, as endowment giving becomes embedded in a school's giving culture, Generations' goal is for schools to grow the value of their endowment funds to $20-$30K per student. The ROI for each community is expected to be more than 100 times its investment. PEJE expects the program to be fine-tuned and expanded in “Cohort 2,” which begins in fall 2013.
In a blog post about Generations, Deena K. Fuchs, Director of Strategic Partnerships at AVI CHAI wrote: "This is the time to invest in the long-term sustainability of Jewish day schools and Generations is timely, critical, and within the Jewish community’s control."
She based this on a few things that AVI CHAI have learned from field studies:
- Jewish day schools can become sufficiently sophisticated to approach the industry standards already set by secular private schools.
- The previous generation of Jewish day school families is at a prime age for legacy giving.
- The federation system is equipped to manage Jewish day school endowments.
- Many schools have already indicated considerable interest in this project.