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$15 Million Raised by Ramah Camping Movement This Year

Huge Growth in New Investment from Donors and Foundations in 2014-15 for Camps, Israel Programs, and Movement-Wide Initiatives

The National Ramah Commission has received foundation grants and donor pledges of $3.6 million in the last twelve months, while individual Ramah camps and Israel programs (see below) have raised more than $11 million for scholarships, endowments, capital development, and program innovation.

National Ramah 2014-15 initiatives that have been strengthened by foundation and philanthropic support include:

  • Camp Ramah in Northern California – The local board raised $1.1 million as part of an ongoing $2.5 million campaign to begin a new Ramah camp on a rental facility. They approved a proposal to have NRC hire a director, find a camp site and begin operations in the summer of 2016. The Foundation for Jewish Camp‘s “New Camp Accelerator” program, funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation, will provide extensive consulting support to the new director, Sarah Shulman.

  • Young Adult Leadership Development – The Jim Joseph Foundation has provided a grant for the Ramah Camping Movement and Young Judaea to partner in an initiative that aims to connect camp alumni to Jewish learning and to greater engagement within their Jewish communities. The first two local partners to join the project are the Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies and The Morningstar Foundation, which have each provided grants to help build the Washington, D.C., Learning Hub over the next two years. The Alan B. Slifka Foundation provided funding for a cohort of young professionals to come together for a leadership and planning conference. These initiatives are all a part of the ongoing development of Reshet Ramah, which is extending the Ramah experience into adulthood among thousands of alumni through a wide range of programming and social and professional networking.
  • Ramah Service Corps – Thirty young adult Ramah staff leaders bring the magic of camp into congregational and community life and college campuses year-round through part-time and full-time initiatives across North America. These leaders also serve as outstanding camp recruiters and are encouraged to consider careers in Jewish leadership. These part-time fellowships are supported by a large grant from an anonymous foundation. The full-time model, now completing two successful years in the Metro-Detroit area, has just been renewed for two more years by a generous grant from the William Davidson Foundation.
  • Scholarship Support for Families with Economic Hardship – Three anonymous donors provided gifts to NRC totaling $400,000. An additional $160,000 was raised for teen travel to Poland through Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY)and Ramah Israel Seminar, and for the creation of a new outdoor adventure track on Ramah Israel Seminar.

    • Ramah camps partner with many of their regional Conservative synagogues that support Ramah camping through generous allocations of scholarship assistance to their member families. These funds, along with the significant amounts raised through camp lay leadership fundraising efforts, help many of our campers attend Ramah.

  • Disabilities Programs / Tikvah
    • National Ramah received a $350,000 grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation to support the establishment of new Tikvah programs at Darom and Poconos; to expand vocational education programs at California, Canada, New England, and Wisconsin; and to continue the TIPTOE (The Inclusion Project: Through Our Eyes) inclusion-themed video contest for all Jewish camps in North America.
    • The Leo Oppenheimer & Flora Oppenheimer Haas Foundation has provided the National Ramah Commission with a grant of $70,000, enabling Ramah to expand the capacity of the National Ramah Tikvah Network.
    • The expansion of opportunities to include teens with disabilities on Ramah Israel Seminar is being supported by a generous grant from the New York Teen Initiative, which is jointly funded by UJA-Federation of New Yorkand the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Jewish Education Project serves as lead operator of the Initiative. Generous donations from Eileen and Jerry Lieberman further enhance our ability to make our Israel programs more inclusive.
    • Ramah and the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) partnered to produce the Inclusion Training Guide for Jewish Summer Camps, a comprehensive resource guide for all Jewish camps seeking information and support for their disabilities and inclusion programs. This resource guide was funded by a generous grant to FJC from the UJA-Federation of New York – Neshamot Fund.
    • The Covenant Foundation sponsored a September 2014 conference on the topics of “Creating a Vision for Tikvah” and “Ramah as Leader in the Disabilities Field.”
    • The 2015 Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip raised $446,000 from more than 3,000 donors for Ramah programs for campers with disabilities. Corporate and family sponsors provided an additional $65,000.

  • RamahDate – Generous funding for marketing and public relations for Ramah’s new partnership with JDate was provided by the Platt, Kopin, and Tenzer families, and others.

Highlights of recent fundraising activity at our camps include:

  • The Ramah Berkshires annual fund raised more than $555,000 in 2014-2015 from over 750 donors. Funds raised by alumni and friends in memory of Eric Steinthal, z”l, Gesher ’96, were used to renovate the Stadium Basketball Court. A generous gift from alumni Rabbi Stuart Saposh and Linda Holof-Saposh, in memory of Norma and Harry Holof and in honor of their children and grandchildren, provided for the restoration and renovation of sections of the Bamat (Beit Midrash Le’Torah). A $100,000 gift from the Ilberman Family Philanthropic Fund in memory of Mel Ilberman, z”l, has been dedicated towards the renovation of Beit Am Bet (theater).
  • Ramah California has raised nearly $1.5 million since last summer in support of its plan to add a new 11th grade edah, extending camp by one year, which will parallel all the other Ramah camps. The camp is in the process of developing plans for the new facilities and the new programming for this significant and historic change for Ojai.
  • Ramah Canada has raised close to $1.5 million this year, including $1.2 million in seed funding for a capital campaign and nearly $300,000 toward the camp’s Annual Chaverim Campaign. The camp is currently using the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Chai Match 3 program as a catalyst to raise more than $1 million over three years to help support growing scholarship needs.
  • Ramah Darom launched “Vision 2020,” a $5 million multi-phase capital campaign that will provide enhanced sports facilities, arts and media studios, and additional programming space; $1.9 million has already been raised. This campaign includes the creation of The Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Program, which began this summer. In addition, $425,000 has been raised for the camp’s Annual Fund, $62,000 for the Camp Yofi family camp program for families with children with autism, and to date over $90,000 for the Andrew Silvershein Memorial Scholarship Program, which provides scholarship support to Gesher campers.
  • Ramah New England has raised more than $1.2 million toward a new chadar ochel (dining hall) in the last six months, bringing the total raised for Camp(aign) Ramah to $5.7 million. Strong giving in recent months has brought CRNE much closer to its goal for this important new facility, which will replace a 90-year-old building. In addition to significant support from individuals, CRNE’s efforts are supported by matching grants from JCamp180, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and another major national Jewish foundation.
  • Ramah Nyack has raised $300,000 from individual donors and foundations. This includes a $50,000 capital grant from Adeena and David Rosen and $16,000 for Makom Shlomo, a permanent sukkah dedicated in memory of Sol Yousha, z”l. A $10,000 grant from UJA-Federation of New York is funding Ha’dor Yizkor, evenings of learning that bring together Nyack alumni in their 20s and 30s with survivors of the Shoah, in partnership with Reshet Ramah. A generous grant from the Areivim Philanthropic Group continues to support the new Sha’ar Hebrew immersion program.
  • Ramah Poconos has raised close to $1 million this year, including a $300,000 lead gift to renovate both guest and staff housing. In addition, the Annual Chai Campaign for scholarship, capital improvements, and programming for Ramah Day Camp, Camp Ramah in the Poconos and Tikvah Family Camp raised over $325,000. Poconos’ Gesher 2000 alumni made a gift of $32,000 that was used to set up an endowment in memory of fellow campers Michael Levin, z”l, and Andy Schloss, z”l, as well as to renovate the Gesher bunks. And thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia’s Real Estate Division (JFRE), poolside bathrooms and showers are now a reality. Lastly, in addition to the $250,000 raised last year, grants totaling $150,000 were received for the new Tikvah residential program opening in 2016.
  • Ramah in the Rockies has raised over $900,000 over the past year in new pledges. In addition, Ramah in the Rockies completed the construction of the Beit Kesher retreat center thanks to a generous gift from Francine Lavin Weaver. The retreat center was dedicated in August 2014. This summer, the camp constructed three new tents for staff and campers, funded by the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation and two anonymous donors as well as a Tikvah sensory room funded by the Harvey and Gloria Kaylie Foundation. New funding will support ongoing capital projects to accommodate ever-increasing enrollment needs.
  • Ramah Wisconsin has raised over $1 million for the Koach Campaign, which is being matched 1:1 by the Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation. In December, the camp received a $100,000 grant for annual programming from the Zell Family Foundation and a $75,000 grant for scholarships, staff training, and Tikvah programming from The Crown Family. The camp also recently received gifts from two donors totaling $400,000 to strengthen and expand programs for special needs campers and inclusion programming across the camp.
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