Unlocking the Potential of Jewish Day Schools

November 12, 2018

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


There is no shortage of challenging stones facing Jewish day schools. And there is no one school, one community, or one leader with all the answers. Instead, our strength, our ability to move the rock comes when we harness vision and reality alongside our colleagues and peers. Building on the decades of experience from the five founding organizations that merged to form Prizmah, and informed by hundreds of individuals and schools who participated in interviews, focus groups, and surveys, Prizmah has just released our five-year strategic plan entitled B’Yachad/Together: Towards a Vibrant Future for Jewish Day Schools. Together, we begin shaping the next chapter for Jewish day schools.

This is not a strategy for Prizmah on its own. Our blueprint is built from an understanding of that deep and powerful school-community connection – the stronger our schools are, the stronger our communities, and vice-versa. Today’s Jewish day school students, and those who follow in their footsteps, are precious resources.

We believe greatest impact can be achieved by: 1) deepening talent, 2) catalyzing resources, 3) accelerating innovation, and 4) networking to learn.

By deepening talent we mean empowering professional and lay leaders to grow their schools as vibrant centers of learning and Jewish community. Talent drives excellence. Through board self-assessment services like Board Fitness or the recently launched pilot of day school lay leaders at the Kellogg School of Management, lay leaders deepen their ability to serve their schools. Through cohort programs and customized support, heads of school and other professional leaders advance and stay engage.

Catalyzing resources means generating revenue and supporting schools to secure the funding they need to flourish. Most schools generate roughly 75% of their revenue from tuition, with the gap filled by annual fundraising and, for increasing numbers of schools, income from endowment. Prizmah makes a compelling national case for supporting Jewish day schools and builds powerful funder networks, as we are doing today at the inaugural Day School Investor Summit in Miami. We partner with schools and communities to build endowment funds, key for sustainability and successful affordability initiatives.

Educators are natural innovators. By investing in innovation, Prizmah fosters sparks of creativity and creates a space for promising new ideas to shine, attract the attention of funders, and be scaled and adapted for broader application. We nurture a culture of experimentation, in the classroom and in the board room alike.

All of this happens when we come together, activate a network of networks, and enable school leaders to harness the power of connecting. We believe that when we learn together, grow together, and create together, schools are destined to thrive. In that spirit, I welcome conversation about our plan and Prizmah’s future direction.

Read the entire post at eJewish Philanthropy

Updated: Dec. 05, 2018