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$18 Million Raised by Ramah Camping Movement

New Investments from Donors and Foundations in 2016-17 Support Camps, Israel Programs, and Movement-Wide Initiatives

The Ramah Camping Movement continues to thrive, serving more than 11,200 campers and staff members this summer, the largest number ever in our 70-year history. We are fortunate to benefit from a growing list of generous individual donors, both small and large, as well as philanthropic foundations, to support the important work we do. These contributions strengthen our camps in numerous ways, help make Ramah financially accessible to more families, extend Ramah programming into life-long and year-round initiatives, and grow more overnight and day camps to serve even more Jewish youth.

The National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary raised a record $4.5 million in new foundation grants and donor pledges in the last twelve months, and individual Ramah camps and Israel programs (see below) have raised more than $13.5 million for scholarships, endowments, capital development, and program innovation. We are extremely grateful for this generosity, an investment in the future leaders of our Jewish communities.

Ramah Sports Academy – The National Ramah Commission received a $1.4 million grant to help us launch the Ramah Sports Academy (RSA), our newest overnight camp, opening in summer 2018 at Fairfield University in southwestern Connecticut. This generous grant was awarded as part of the Specialty Camp Incubator of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, with funding from the Jim Joseph Foundation and The AVI CHAI Foundation. (Click here to request more information about RSA.)

National Affordability Initiative – Due to the generosity of several anonymous donors, NRC continues to provide each Ramah overnight camp with financial assistance to support campers from families with serious financial struggle. NRC has also raised funds to provide financial assistance for 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

  • With 101 riders, hikers, and volunteers participating, the May 2017 Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip raised approximately $475,000 for Ramah programs for campers with disabilities. Since 2011, these biennial trips have raised over $1,500,000 from more than 10,000 donors. Corporate and family sponsors help underwrite the costs of this program so that almost all of the individual donations can support our Tikvah programs.
  • The Genesis Prize Foundation and Jewish Funders Network have awarded a matching grant to the National Ramah Commission. In honor of 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate Itzhak Perlman, the Breaking Barriers Matching Grant Initiative promotes inclusion of those with disabilities in Jewish life. The grant will support operations for the National Ramah Tikvah Network.
  • 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 expand TikvahNet, a project of Reshet Ramah, which networks staff and camper alumni from all our Tikvah programs.

Gesher Ramah – The AVI CHAI Foundation awarded the National Ramah Commission a generous grant to deepen the connection between Ramah camps and Conservative congregations. This new initiative partners Ramah staff with clergy members, Jewish educators, youth leaders, and parent ambassadors at local synagogues. These teams 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.

2016 Ramah Alumni Survey – Conducted by Professor Steven M. Cohen with generous support from Eileen and Jerry Lieberman, this comprehensive survey powerfully demonstrates that Ramah alumni have deep long-term engagement in Jewish life and a meaningful network of lifelong Jewish friends.

Selected Ongoing National Ramah Initiatives Supported by Major Foundation Grants

Ramah Service Corps – This past year, there were 36 part-time Ramah Service Corps Fellows, young adult Ramah staff leaders who bring the magic of camp into congregational and community life year-round across North America. Outstanding role models for our Jewish youth, the Fellows also serve as camp recruiters and are encouraged to consider careers in Jewish leadership.

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, there have been over 9,000 registrants for Reshet Ramah events. These events are often in partnership with our camps’ alumni outreach efforts, and include holiday celebrations, travel and retreats, and university campus Jewish engagement programs.
  • A generous grant from Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) supports a new Ramah-NBN partnership, through which Reshet Ramah creates programs to promote greater Israel engagement among young adults on college campuses and in communities across North America.
  • The National Ramah Commission received a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation to support Reshet Ramah Learning Hubs. This initiative actively engages young adults in ongoing Jewish learning organized by their peers.

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 serves as a gateway to greater involvement in the Jewish community.

Fundraising Updates from Ramah Camps

Camp Ramah in Wisconsin raised over $2 million towards its endowment, capital projects, and camper scholarships. A new Nivonim campus opened for the 2017 season. Pledges for the Givah Campaign now exceed $5 million, with nearly 2,000 gifts from generous individuals and foundations. During this fiscal year, these gifts included a $100,000 grant from the Zell Family Foundation, a $75,000 grant from The Crown Family, and a $100,000 grant from a national foundation.

Ramah in the Rockies received capital campaign gifts of $250,000 towards building a new arts pavilion from the Goldrich Family Foundation, $80,000 towards kitchen updates from an anonymous donor, $200,000 towards winterizing the camp’s water system, and $20,000 from an anonymous foundation and The Oreg Foundation to construct a three-season greenhouse. Ramah in the Rockies also received over $80,000 in camper tuition scholarships and over $200,000 in new pledges towards opening the BaMidbar Wilderness therapy program, which opens in January 2018. In addition, the camp restructured its debt with the help of a foundation. This resulted in over $125,000 of annual debt relief and Ramah in the Rockies taking title to its ranch.

Camp Ramah in the Poconos raised over $800,000, including gifts from the 2016 Annual Chai Campaign totaling $470,000 for scholarship, programming, and capital improvements. Over 1,600 individual gifts were made in the past year. Endowments grew with contributions of over $60,000, both for named endowments and unrestricted funds. In addition, $80,000 was donated to the camp’s Tikvah programs for campers with disabilities, and camper families donated $12,500 to the camp’s Staff Appreciation Fund.

Ramah Day Camp in Nyack raised $415,000, which included $144,000 for camper scholarships and $275,000 for capital projects. Construction was completed this spring on a new $2 million kitchen, and a lead gift from John Ruskay and family supported the construction of an amphitheater and outdoor kitchen.

Camp Ramah in Northern California (Ramah Galim), in just its second year of operation, is growing in many ways, including the number of donors investing in the future of the camp. Over the last 12 months, Ramah Galim raised over $23,000 in scholarship funding and $550,000 in unrestricted funds to help with camp operations. This year, a lead gift of $250,000 came from the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund. Combined with the generous support received from the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties; SF Humanities Inc.; The AVI CHAI Foundation; The Morton and Amy Friedkin Supporting Foundation; and individual donors, Ramah Galim was able to meet and exceed its 2017 goals.

Camp Ramah in New England raised $150,000 to complete its $6.25 million capital campaign. The final project in the camp’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign is a new 23,000- square foot chadar ochel, which was officially dedicated on July 23 with over 500 people in attendance. This modern and winterized facility replaces an aging and much smaller facility. Members of CRNE’s Tikvah Vocational Education Program are learning food service skills in the new facility. Earlier in the campaign, Camp Ramah opened three other new facilities: the Bet Am Gadol, K’far Nivonim, and the misrad/omanut building.

Camp Ramah Darom raised $1.6 million in the past 12 months to support Camp Yofi, the annual fund, endowment, and the VISION 2020 Campaign, which to date has raised $3.2 million of its $5 million goal. Recent additions to camp include an outdoor cooking facility, five new cottages to be used for senior staff and retreat guests, and a new boardwalk from the main campus to the welcome center. Thanks to a recent generous grant, Ramah Darom updated the interior and exterior of the Marcus Building, which provides accommodations for senior staff and retreat guests.

Camp Ramah in Canada raised $1.1 million toward Phase II of its Renew the Vision Capital Campaign. The Ab and Phyllis Flatt and Harold and Carole Wolfe families generously pledged an additional $500,000 as part of a 2:1 match to help inspire participation in Phase II. Phase I, which was completed in time for kayitz 2017, included a new infirmary and a new Beit Am Agam. The annual Chaverim Campaign raised $300,000 to support camper scholarships.

Camp Ramah in California raised more than $4.1 million. The annual campaign raised $1.5 million to support camp’s greatest needs and for scholarships. The merged New Machon/Property Capital Campaign raised $2.7 million in the last 12 months and $4.4 million over the last three years. Capital proceeds were used to purchase adjacent land to expand the camp’s wilderness programming. Generous gifts were received to name the Roslyn & Abner Goldstine Machon Shetach and the Rachel & Lee Rosen Mercaz Manhigut (Center for Leadership). In addition, five families at least doubled their initial capital contribution of $100,000.

Camp Ramah in the Berkshires completed the final phase of its $1.8 million Art Opens Doors (AOD) Capital Campaign. The first phase included a new welcome center and camp office, and the final phase, completed in June, focused on building a state-of-the-art fine arts center. The AOD campaign received large gifts from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and an anonymous foundation, as well as gifts from more than 300 individual donors. During this year, the camp raised approximately $800,000 for camper scholarships, capital improvements, programming innovations, and staff professional development. In December 2016, the camp raised $214,000 at its annual dinner in honor of outgoing camp director Rabbi Paul Resnick.

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