Federation Support of Jewish Day Schools Soars

CHICAGO — More than $1.5 million will go to 15 Jewish day schools that benefit from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Jewish Day School Guaranty Trust Fund — a 20-fold increase in the two years since JUF launched its major innovation in supplemental day-school funding.

The annual distribution is 43 percent higher than last year’s payment from the Trust Fund, which was created to guarantee a permanent source of cash the schools can rely on every year. Since the breakthrough funding initiative was announced in early 2006, the Trust Fund’s endowment has skyrocketed to nearly $27.5 million in commitments.

Distributions from the Trust Fund are in addition to more than $3 million the Federation allocates each year to those schools, which serve students from every denomination. Combined, that translates to an average of more than $1,100 per student.

The Federation also provides extensive social, medical and other services to the schools through its affiliated agencies, supports and administers grants for them from outside organizations, and has committed to more than $23 million in loan guarantees for capital improvements at several schools.

“Day-school education is one of the most effective ways to ensure Jewish continuity, community, identity and values,” said John Lowenstein, Vice Chairman of the Federation Board and a key figure in the Trust Fund initiative. “But the financial demands on the schools and families have been huge. This effort means our schools now have a perpetual and growing source of funds to defray the costs of making a quality day-school education more affordable and accessible to families that seek it.”

“These results highlight once more how religious and communal leaders of different denominations and backgrounds are coming together to benefit the entire community,” said Federation President Steven B. Nasatir. “What Chicago has created is looked at as a model for other Jewish communities, one that potentially can benefit thousands of students across the country. And, of course, the best part is that this funding is forever.”

The Day School Trust Fund initiative is the product of unprecedented cooperation and effort. Pre-eminent spiritual leaders, including the Orthodox community’s Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin and Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, and the Conservative Movement’s Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, among others, plus communal leaders such as Rabbi Morris Esformes, Andrew Hochberg, Eric Rothner, Elliott Robinson and Gary Elkins all have taken active personal roles. To date, more than 100 donors have contributed to the endowment, most committing from $100,000 to $1 million or more.

The dramatic increase in the Trust Fund’s distributions to the schools Ð $1,532,868 this funding year, compared to $72,000 in 2006 Ð is the direct result of the tremendous outpouring of support from donors coupled with the Federation’s breakthrough approach to calculating those payments.

Although donations to the Day School Trust Fund may be paid over 10 years, the Federation “front-loads” the commitment. Distributions of the Fund’s income are based on the entire amount pledged, not just the actual cash received. That significantly increases what the schools get in the early years, allowing them to meet critical immediate needs while also growing an endowment that will support them in perpetuity.

Under a deadline extension announced earlier this year, the Federation will continue to front-load donor commitments of $100,000 or more made by Dec. 31, 2008, provided they meet certain conditions.

In addition to the front-loading, the Federation also added a 10 percent match to payments that were received by the end of 2007, and to gifts of $500,000 or more that are paid by 2010.

Gifts to the Trust Fund, part of the Federation’s Centennial Campaign, are over and above the donors’ annual gifts to the Jewish United Fund and to the individual day schools they may support.

Participating schools, which receive distributions based on enrollment, include:
Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School
Arie Crown Hebrew Day School
Bais Yaakov Girls High School
Chicago Jewish Day School
Chicagoland Jewish High School
Fasman Yeshiva High School (HTC)
Hannah Sacks Bais Yaakov Girls High School
Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School
Ida Crown Jewish Academy
Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov/Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi
Keshet Day School
Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School
Solomon Schechter Day School
Telshe Yeshiva High School Program
Yeshivas Shearis Yisrael

For complete details on the Jewish Day School Guaranty Trust Fund program, contact the Federation’s Legacies and Endowments Department at 312-357-4853 or legacy@juf.org.