New Investment from Donors and Foundations in 2015-16 Supports Camps, Israel Programs, and Movement-Wide Initiatives
In addition to new foundation grants and donor pledges received by the National Ramah Commission in the last twelve months, individual Ramah camps and Israel programs (see below) have raised more than $14 million for scholarships, endowments, capital development, and program innovation.
National Ramah 2015-16 initiatives strengthened by foundation and philanthropic support include:
- Camp Ramah in Northern California – As “Ramah Galim” begins its first year of summer camp operations, all indications are that this will be a very successful camp, with more than 220 campers enrolled and a full complement of staff hired. The original successful partnership among Camp Ramah in California, the National Ramah Commission, and the local board of Camp Ramah in Northern California has now transitioned to be fully overseen and supported by the local board, which continues to raise the funds necessary for camp operations and generous scholarship assistance to families with financial need. The Foundation for Jewish Camp‘s “New Camp Accelerator” program, funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation, continues to provide extensive consulting support to the new director, Rabbi Sarah Shulman.
- Camp Ramah/Synagogue Initiative for the Bay Area – The AVI CHAI Foundation has awarded the National Ramah Commission a generous grant to deepen the connection between Ramah camps and Conservative congregations. This new initiative, currently being piloted in the Bay Area, partners Ramah staff with clergy members, Jewish educators, youth leaders, and parent ambassadors at local synagogues. These teams, supported by Camp Ramah in Northern California, will develop family and youth programming designed to build a stronger Ramah culture in their congregations and to increase the number of synagogue families sending their children to Ramah camps.
- Ramah Service Corps – Thirty young adult Ramah staff leaders bring the magic of camp into congregational and community life 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 three successful years in the Metro Detroit area, is supported by a generous grant from the William Davidson Foundation.
- Reshet Ramah – With ongoing generous financial support from the Maimonides Fund and The AVI CHAI Foundation, the Reshet Ramah alumni initiative continues to grow and develop in new ways. To date, 6,300 people have participated in Reshet Ramah events, often in partnership with our camps’ alumni outreach efforts. These efforts include holiday celebrations, new retreat and travel opportunities, and university campus Jewish engagement programs. Reshet Ramah is also creating new opportunities for young adults to learn together in various cities, supported by a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation (and in Washington, D.C., The Morningstar Foundation and Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies). Rabbi Rami Schwartzer, director of the D.C.-area Ramah Day Camp, will lead the efforts in DC and southern Maryland to engage young adults, in partnership with Camp Ramah in New England, local synagogues and funders, USCJ and Reshet Ramah.
- Scholarship Support for Families with Economic Hardship – Due to the ongoing generosity of two anonymous donors, NRC continues to provide each Ramah overnight camp with financial assistance to support the registration of campers from families with serious financial struggle. NRC has also raised funds to provide financial assistance to teens to 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 generous 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 generous grant enabling Ramah to expand the capacity of the National Ramah Tikvah Network.
- National Ramah received a generous grant to launch TikvahNet, a project of Reshet Ramah, intended to network staff and camper alumni from all our Tikvah programs.
- Generous donations from Eileen and Jerry Lieberman have enhanced our ability to make our Israel programs more inclusive.
- The Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation has awarded the National Ramah Commission a generous grant for Tikvah staff training.
- National Ramah has launched registration for the 2017 Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip (May 9-16, 2017). These trips, since 2011, have raised over $1,000,000 from more than 7,000 donors for Ramah programs for campers with disabilities. Corporate and family sponsors help underwrite the costs of this program so that almost all of the individual donations can support Tikvah.
- 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.
- New Program Development – With a generous grant from The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the National Ramah Commission is exploring the opening of a satellite Ramah day camp program in Lower Manhattan.
- Open Door Initiative – With generous funding from the Zell Family Foundation and The AVI CHAI Foundation, National Ramah is working with a number of our day and overnight camps to reach out to unaffiliated families for whom the Ramah experience could serve as a gateway to greater involvement in the Jewish community.
Fundraising Updates from Ramah Camps
Camp Ramah in the Berkshires: More than 750 donors contributed over $600,000 for the 2015 Annual Fund, which provides scholarships, programming innovations, and staff professional development opportunities. These donations include first-time donors, meeting the full match for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation‘s Chai Match 3, and the fundraising efforts of the journal dinner honorees. In addition, Ramah Berkshires raised $850,000 in 2015 towards the $1.8 million goal for the “Art Opens Doors” Capital Campaign, bringing the total raised thus far to $1.2 million. This campaign enabled the construction of a Welcome Center that includes administrative offices as well as open program and meeting spaces. The 2015 theater arts funding provided for a trap stage door, dressing rooms, and an outdoor backstage staircase for Bet Am Bet.
Camp Ramah in California raised more than $1.35 million in the past 12 months to support an increase in scholarship giving; to make improvements to the camp’s physical plant in the areas of infrastructure, safety, security, and programming spaces; and to provide seed funding for the purchase of adjacent land to expand the camp’s wilderness programming. Funds raised will also support the inaugural summer of the new Machon edah; in 2016, for the first time in decades, Ramah California will have a division for campers entering 11th grade.
Camp Ramah in Canada raised $1.5 million toward Phase I of its Capital Campaign and $350,000 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.
Camp Ramah Darom‘s VISION2020 Capital Campaign was publicly launched in June 2015 with a goal of $5 million. To date, the campaign is half way to meeting its goal. VISION2020 has allowed Ramah Darom to launch the Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Program in a cabin designed specifically for this program; build a new cottage to be used both as the gan in the summer and as additional housing for year-round retreat participants; and add a lake house which will provide programming space as well as a changing area. In addition, $460,000 has been raised for Ramah Darom’s Annual Fund and Camp Yofi. To date, $96,000 has been received for the Andrew Silvershein Memorial Scholarship Program, which provides scholarship support for Gesher campers.
Camp Ramah in New England has raised more than $500,000 toward a new chadar ochel in the last year, bringing the total raised for Camp(aign) Ramah to more than $6.1 million. This important new facility will replace the current 90-year-old building. Along with significant support from individuals, Ramah New England’s capital campaign is supported by matching grants from JCamp180, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and another major national Jewish foundation; and a grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. of Baltimore, MD. In addition, camp parents are supporting the Makom Fund, which supports annual site improvements and program equipment, in increasing numbers – with a 20% increase in contributions in the last year, and with an almost doubling of contributions in the last four years.
Camp Ramah in Northern California (“Ramah Galim”) has raised $1.5 million since May 2015. This includes six-figure gifts from eight families; a $250,000 matching grant from the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund; and a $243,500 seed grant from the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund for the camp’s ocean exploration, performing arts, adventure sports, and special needs programs. In addition, NRC and Ramah Galim received a grant from The AVI CHAI Foundation for a synagogue engagement initiative in the Bay Area for camp to work with local synagogues to offer Ramah-style programming and build lasting camp connections.
Ramah Day Camp in Nyack has raised more than $1 million from individual donors and foundations since May 2015. Capital gifts include a $650,000 grant from the Gottesman Family to fund the construction of a new aquatics center, and generous donations from Mordechai and Cheryl Rosenberg and the Rosalie Katz Family Foundation. With the help of a lead gift from the Topal family, this summer Ramah Nyack will open a new hiking trail, Shvil Ramah. Ramah Nyack is the proud recipient of a $20,000 PJ Library Spark Engagement grant to expand its Bim Bam Shabbat programming for Jewish families with young children. The Areivim Philanthropic Group and the Foundation for Jewish Camp continue to provide funding towards the Sha’ar Hebrew immersion program for entering kindergarten through 3rd-grade campers.
Camp Ramah in the Poconos has raised more than $700,000 since May 2015, including a $200,000 gift from Rick and Donna Forman for Yedidim, the new Tikvah edah. Their gift includes the sponsorship of the Forman Mills Tour de Shuls, an annual bike ride to raise funds for Tikvah programs at the overnight camp, Ramah Day Camp, and Tikvah Family Camp. In addition, over $385,000 was raised during the Annual Chai Campaign for scholarship, capital improvements, and programming at all three camps. The untimely passing of Gesher ’92 alumnus, Steve Josselson z”l, prompted the creation of a $30,000 endowment funded by donations from family, friends, and alumni. Lastly, the Legacy Heritage Fund Challenge Grant combined with monies raised from the Tour de Shuls totaled $100,000 to support the new Tikvah program.
Ramah in the Rockies has raised more than $1 million in gifts since May 2015. This includes $437,000 for the completion of a waste water treatment plant and sewer pipes from an anonymous donor, as well as $250,000 from Melinda Goldrich of the Goldrich Family Foundation towards the completion of a second bath/shower house. It also includes $36,000 for a new sensory tent for the Tikvah program from the Harvey and Gloria Kaylie Family Foundation and $20,000 from an anonymous donor for a new plow truck. In addition to the funding for the camp program, Ramah in the Rockies has raised another $338,000 in cash and pledges towards the $500,000 goal to launch their new off-season wilderness treatment program for emerging adults facing life challenges.
Camp Ramah in Wisconsin completed the Koach Campaign six months early in June 2015, raising $2.5 million for debt retirement thanks to a matching gift challenge from the Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation and in addition met the annual campaign goal of $1 million. 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 new Givah Campaign launched this spring, a $6 million, three-year comprehensive campaign to secure the financial needs of both Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and Ramah Day Camp. The centerpiece of the campaign is the construction of a new Nivonim campus at the overnight camp. Two new challenge grants will help meet the campaign goals: a 1:1 match from a national foundation supporting special needs scholarships and programming up to $100,000 per year for the next three years and a 1:1 match from the Halevy family for gifts from new donors and increased giving from existing donors up to $80,000. A renovated and expanded Moadon Tikvah, made possible by a gift from the estate of Waldemar Lelewski through Lynn and Howard Rosen, is under construction and will be ready for the 2016 season.