NewOrg Decision Press Release

January 19, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

Mazal Tov!

We are delighted to announce that Day Schools of Reform Judaism (PARDES), The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), RAVSAK (The Jewish Community Day School Network), the Schechter Day School Network (Schechter), and the Yeshiva University School Partnership (YUSP) have all agreed to move forward towards the formation of a new, integrated North American Jewish day school organization.

And, thank you!

Thank you for your patience during the planning process. Thank you for participating in the focus groups and surveys and one-on-one-conversations. Your feedback and overwhelming support for the concept of a new integrated organization is why we are at this point. Thank you for your best thinking and experience; it has all helped to shape and guide our work. We cannot adequately express our appreciation.

The decision by our respective leadership to move in this direction is an affirmation of the centrality of day schools in Jewish life and reflects our dedication to seeing Jewish learning, literacy, culture and commitment flourish in a rapidly changing world.  At the same time, it reflects the conviction of many in the day school community that we can all benefit from the knowledge, expertise and ideas of others, even if we express our Jewishness differently.  As one organization, we can unify to strengthen day schools, the core of the Jewish educational enterprise.

This new organization, which we are calling NewOrg until we finalize its name) is committed to supporting and enabling financial vitality and educational excellence in Jewish day schools, and to building and strengthening a vibrant, visible and connected Jewish day school field. By pooling the talent, expertise and resources that have been dispersed among our organizations, NewOrg will be able to offer an expanded set of programs, services and networking opportunities to benefit the more than 375 schools and close to 100,000 students one or more of us already serve, and any other schools interested in participating. In short, we are confident that NewOrg will be greater than the sum of its parts. We hope you share our enthusiasm.

Each of our five organizations plays a unique role with the schools we serve, and we are building NewOrg to do that and so much more. NewOrg will maintain and expand on stream-specific offerings, while scaling and developing field-wide programs; it will offer the small network feel, but with the benefits of leveraged resources and expertise. NewOrg will take the best of what each of our organization has to offer its schools, and then innovate and scale it for all schools interested in participating. It will network colleagues and schools of different ideologies and geographies to address shared challenges and capitalize on shared opportunities, while still providing distinct services and counsel to schools from within similar streams. NewOrg will advocate for all day schools. It will convene professional leaders, lay leaders and donors to advance the field, and bring in more resources. And, NewOrg will wield its extensive organizational reach and influence and bring it to bear on behalf of the needs of individual day schools.

We are grateful for AVI CHAI’s pledge of support to our new organization and look forward to partnering with other generous philanthropists – institutions and individuals – who are dedicated to building strength, excellence and vitality in Jewish day schools. A feasibility study we conducted as part of the planning process indicates potential for significant philanthropic investment in NewOrg.

We have initiated a global search for a Chief Executive Officer to lead the new organization and have engaged DRG, a leading executive search firm for the non-profit sector to assist us.  The initial board of directors of the new organization will be composed of one lay leader from each of the founding organizations, as well as from AVI CHAI. A large group of lay-leaders and donors have expressed interest in supporting and being engaged with the organization and will form the pool from which additional board members will be drawn. We have also begun a branding process to select the new organization’s name and develop an identity that reflects a unified, cooperative and fresh vision for the Jewish day school field.

We expect the new organization to launch, subject to the finalization of the formal agreement and necessary state approval, in Summer 2016.

Until then, the five founding organizations will continue to offer their affiliated schools the same services as before. While there will be a transition, our intention is to keep it as seamless as possible. Please be in touch with the executive director of your affiliated organizations with any questions. You can find additional information and updates at www.newjdsorg.org.

As always, we value and thank you for your partnership.

Sincerely,

The Planning Team

PARDES:

Jodi Hessel – Board Chair;

Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director, Campaign for Jewish Youth Engagement – URJ (bsolmsen@urj.org)

PEJE:

Michael Bohnen, Board Co-Chair;

Amy Katz, Past Immediate Executive Director and Senior Advisor (amy@peje.org)

RAVSAK:

Joseph Steiner, Board Member;

Dr. Idana Goldberg, Co-Executive Director (idana@ravsak.org)

SDSN:

Dara Yanowitz, Board Chair;

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, Executive Director (jmitzmacher@schechternetwork.org)

YUSP:

Dr. Scott Goldberg, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning – Yeshiva University;

Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Executive Director (jcohen11@yu.edu)

The AVI CHAI Foundation:

Yossi Prager, Executive Director, North America

Dr. Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy and Education Planning

NewOrg Decision Announcement

NEW NORTH AMERICAN JEWISH DAY SCHOOL ORGANIZATION

TO BE FORMED THROUGH HISTORIC INTEGRATION

New York, January 19, 2016 – Realizing a vision of a more unified field of Jewish day schools, five of North America’s leading Jewish day school organizations and networks –Day Schools of Reform Judaism (PARDES), The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), RAVSAK (The Jewish Community Day School Network), the Schechter Day School Network (Schechter), and the Yeshiva University School Partnership (YUSP) —  have all agreed to move forward towards the formation of a new, integrated North American Jewish day school organization.

This decision recognizes that a combined day school organization (NewOrg for now, until a name is finalized) will more effectively meet the diverse needs of local schools by pooling the talent, expertise and resources originally dispersed among its founding agencies. The new organization will offer an expanded set of programs, services and networking opportunities to benefit the more than 375 schools and close to 100,000 students currently served by these separate groups, and any other schools interested in participating. Whereas schools today are limited to what they are offered as members or affiliates of one or two organizations, they will soon have access to comprehensive, leading-edge offerings.

NewOrg is committed to improving financial vitality and educational excellence in Jewish day schools, and supporting a vibrant, visible and connected Jewish day school field. It will work directly with schools, cohorts of schools, and individual professional and lay leaders to strengthen skills and build capacity in areas of teaching and learning, leadership, governance, affordability, recruitment, retention, fund development and endowment building. As an integrated organization serving and strengthening all streams of Jewish day schools, it will work on advancing the Jewish day school field across North America as well as on advocacy efforts for day schools locally and regionally. NewOrg will promote greater communal and funder engagement with local day schools, and will work with schools and communities to strengthen enrollment.

Jewish Day School Intermediary Update

June 25, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has only been a few months since we were last in touch, and our work assessing the viability and potential impact of a new national Jewish day school entity has already begun to take powerful shape.

As a planning team of representatives from each of the five Jewish day school organizations, we join together with a deep array of knowledge and experience. We passionately believe in the potential of day schools to enrich and sustain Jewish life. We believe that together we have the capacity to be stronger and more viable than alone.

The notion of a single entity that would work across the entire Jewish day school field is game changing. Building on the strength of the prior collaborations between our organizations, the goal moving forward is to provide programs and services that will link day schools across denominations and geography; offer greater financial and technical capacity; and serve as a hub for sharing educational and operational best practices.

Toward that end, we are delighted to provide you with an update on the following initiatives:

  • We have hired an exceptional team of planning, communications and development professionals to facilitate our process. With their expert guidance, we are deep in conversation regarding issues of vision, structure, governance, technology, financial models, fundraising, communications, leadership and training;
  • We have begun a nationwide mapping of the programs and services available to day schools, in order to identify more acutely the strengths and challenges of the current structure. The goal is to determine ways in which this new entity could make its greatest impact and to identify partners, within and outside of the Jewish community, with whom it can advance the field;
  • We have begun to explore a framework for vision, strategies and outcomes (Theory of Change) for the day school field.
  • We have begun to share our initial vision, and the outcomes we hope this entity can achieve, with colleagues and stakeholders in the field;
  • We have hired an executive search firm to help us identify the expertise and qualities necessary of a chief executive to lead this new entity;
  • Finally, as previously announced, we look forward to holding the next NAJDS conference in 2017. In the interim, we are also postponing our individual conferences so that we can focus, collaboratively, on this new entity. Our plan is to create ongoing opportunities to keep you connected and informed about the status of this work.

We understand that this new entity must be informed by far-reaching thinking within the Jewish community and by models outside the community from which we can draw. We understand that the day school field must change, advance and adapt in order to be competitive. We also understand that Jewish day schools, rich with talented professionals and dedicated volunteers and donors, are overstretched and underfunded.

Our commitment remains to all of you, as the administrators, teachers, board members and donors of our schools. The goal for any new entity is to build on the strengths that currently exist within each of our organizations and work together to create responses to the areas of still unmet need.

Thank you for all that you do in our schools and in our communities. We look forward to being in touch over the summer and fall – for feedback and to continue to test assumptions around the concepts we are exploring.

Please note: We recognize that some of you may receive this communication more than once and, for this, we apologize. Please bear with us as we streamline communications and technology. As always, we encourage you to contact any of us with ideas or concerns.

Amy, Bradley, Idana, Jane, Jon, Dara, Jodi, Joey, Michael, Scott

Members of the Intermediary Agency Collaboration Working Group:

PARDES
Jodi Hessel, Board Chair
Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director, Campaign for Youth Engagement, URJ

PEJE
Michael Bohnen, Board Co-Chair
Amy Katz, Immediate Past Executive Director and Senior Advisor

RAVSAK
Joseph Steiner, Board Member
Dr. Idana Goldberg, Co-Executive Director

SDSN
Dara Yanowitz, Board Chair
Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, Executive Director

YUSP
Scott Goldberg, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Yeshiva University
Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Executive Director

AVI CHAI Foundation
Yossi Prager, Executive Director, North America
Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy and Education Planning

Schechter Day School Network Annual Update

We are pleased to share with you highlights of our exciting year!  You can read the ways our impact can be seen through the lens of our core programmatic areas.

Our schools have connected to one another in new ways and have successfully navigated through professional transitions and big picture issues with our support. Our teachers and administrators have been inspired by new professional development and learning opportunities, and our students have celebrated their learning using 21st century tools.

SDSN Annual Update_Page_1SDSN Annual Update_Page_2SDSN Annual Update_Page_3

Post-Conference Update

April 20, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It was thrilling to see so many of you at this year’s NAJDSC. At the opening of the conference, we announced the exciting news that the five Jewish day school intermediaries are engaged in serious conversations about deep collaboration in order to better serve the field.  During the announcement, we informed you that we would be extending our stay in Philadelphia to meet together, and promised to share a summary of that meeting within approximately one month.  It has been a busy and productive month for all of us, and we are pleased to share some highlights and updates.

First, our organizations have engaged La Piana Consulting to guide us through our process. La Piana is among the most recognized national non-profit consulting firms with expertise in strategic planning and organizational collaboration and restructuring.  We are confident that we have found the right team to help us identify effective strategies for serving the field and new ways to work together towards that end.

Second, each organization has committed to an intense and structured process that will bring the best of what we have to offer to the table and draw on the wisdom and energy of the field. We will meet regularly and expect to convene in person every two to four weeks over a six to eight month period. We have begun to vision the possibilities for what might be different and better, and are energized by the potential to strengthen and expand the level of support provided to our schools and to ensure that the collective voice of Jewish day school education is part of both the national Jewish conversation and the national conversation on education.

Finally, we want to assure you that our continued commitments remain with all of you – the administrators, teachers, board members and donors at our schools. As we move forward in this process, we will be working with La Piana to develop methods for engaging schools (professionals and lay-leadership), service organizations, and community and national funders in an inclusive process.  These opportunities for input and feedback will ensure that the result of our work truly meets your needs and amplifies the impact of the work already being done across the field. In the meantime, we invite you to contact any of us to share your thoughts, opinions, ideas, or concerns.

Thank you for all that you do in our Jewish day schools every day.  At this year’s NAJDSC, we were once again reminded of the power of our movement and the potential impact we can have on our children and communities.  We are excited by what our five organizations might accomplish together.

We look forward to sharing updates as the process unfolds and of learning from you soon so that we all might go from strength to strength.

Amy, Bradley, Idana, Jane, & Jon

Dara, Jodi, Joey, Michael, & Scott

 

Members of the Intermediary Agency Collaboration Working Group:

PARDES

Jodi Hessel, Board Chair

Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director, Campaign for Youth Engagement, URJ

PEJE

Michael Bohnen, Board Co-Chair

Amy Katz, Executive Director

RAVSAK

Joseph Steiner, Board Member

Dr. Idana Goldberg, Co-Executive Director

SDSN

Dara Yanowitz, Board Chair

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, Executive Director

YUSP

Scott Goldberg, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Yeshiva University

Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Executive Director

AVI CHAI Foundation

Yossi Prager, Executive Director

Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy and Education Planning

Schechter Network February Newsletter

Click this link to get the most up-to date info on what the Schechter Network has been up to this February. This issue includes:

  • #teenEli Contest with Eli Talks
  • Registration is still open for the NAJDSC Conference in 2015. We can’t wait to see all our Schechter schools there!
  • a spotlight on Solomon Schechter Day School Of Metro Chicago!
  • Mechon Hadar Summer Institute
  • SREL Applications are now open!

…and much more!