Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting B’nai B’rith Camp on the Oregon Coast with several of my professional colleagues and volunteer leaders. All I can say is Oregon is so fortunate to have such an incredible Jewish overnight camp. The children there were having a FANTASTIC time. Moreover, they have a beautiful camp site with many new building additions (with an exciting plan for further development), are nationally recognized, have received national grant funding for every “leading edge” idea in camping, and have incredible volunteer and professional leadership.
I want to make special mention of “Mama Cheryl” and the wonderful Kehilla inclusion program happening at BB Camp. About 10 years ago, the Jewish Federation provided seed funding to help the camp support children with special needs. That program has continued to grow and expand. In fact, BB Camp is one of only six camps in the country to have received a three-year Foundation for Jewish Camp/Ruderman Inclusion Initiative grant and one of only 13 to receive the Let’s ALL Play: National Inclusion Project grant, both ensuring that support staff are available to meet the individualized needs of all campers. These grants enabled BB Camp to hire Cheryl Peizner (aka Mama Cheryl) as a dedicated inclusion specialist. I spent over an hour listening and learning from Cheryl about the camp’s efforts with individual campers, counselors and the camp community. It is a beautiful concept to watch in action.
I wish all the campers from Portland (attending 11 different Jewish overnight camps across the country) a great experience this summer!
Last week, I shared with you our special overseas project allocations. This week I would like to share with you more about our local allocations (without a laundry list of each and every allocation).
This year, the Jewish Federation provided an 8% increase in funding to our local community – all due to your support of our Annual Campaign. For many years, Federation focused its funding on 10 partner agencies for operating support. This funding was often viewed as an annual grant with the expectation that every year the organization should receive at least that much money or more. With communal changes, some of those agencies no longer exist and new partners have been established. In addition, the Allocations Committee begins its process by focusing on the priority needs of our community – not prior year funding. The bulk of our allocations, however, continue to go to general operating support and almost every organization received more funding than last year.
Beyond general operating support, the growth in the annual campaign allowed for additional funding to be available for specific initiatives at many of the agencies, which include:
- Financial assistance to provide bus transportation for children attending Portland Jewish Academy living on the eastside.
- Funding to enhance Maimonides Jewish Day School as they embark on their accreditation process and strengthen the Mittleman Jewish Community Center by paying half their dues for the national Jewish Community Centers Association.
- The Oregon Jewish Museum made a special request for funding for event security.
- Maayan Torah Day School received funding to enhance their technology, art, and physical education programs.
- BB Camp received funding for their “Camp in the City” initiative for year-round programming.
- Resources for our college campuses were made available for Israel programing at Greater Portland Hillel and the University of Oregon to assist in the continued growth of the new Oregon State University Hillel program.
- Chabad at Reed College is our newest partner and received funding for their Jewish activities at that campus.
- And, we expanded our funding for each of our community’s Jewish youth groups with money available for convention subsidies and programming.
Beyond our local partner organizations, the Jewish Federation continues to fund communal programs (many coordinated by the Jewish Federation). I am proud that based on our successes and new initiatives, funding in these areas increased by 20%. Some examples include:
- Our newest community initiative -- Jewish Right Start, an incentive grant program to encourage Jewish children to attend Jewish pre-school. Over 80 new Jewish children will be entering into one of our ten local Jewish pre-schools and most will be receiving an incentive grant of between $500 - $2000.
- PJ Library is expanding to age 8 (previously books were only mailed to children age 6 and below). We are excited by this new opportunity and look to grow PJ Library recipients to well over 1,250 children per month.
- The integration of the inter-group outreach efforts of the Oregon Area Jewish Committee into Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council required additional funding for programming and staffing needs.
- Recent communal initiatives including GrapeVine and One Happy Camper (incentive grants to increase enrollment in Jewish overnight camp) continue to grow and expand.
- We continue to provide resources for Jewish Young Adult activities, immersive teen experiences in Israel, Portland Mitzvah Network volunteer initiatives, maintenance of the current community mikveh, local Israel programming and speakers, and chaplaincy efforts.
In late August, our Annual Report will be made available to the entire community and showcase our efforts to enhance Jewish life. I encourage you to review the incredible depth and breadth of our funding (both local and overseas). Plus, if you have any questions or would like more information before the Annual Report is published, please do not hesitate to contact me.
THANK YOU – YOU made this possible! And special appreciation to Federation’s volunteer Allocations Committee for their hard work and efforts.
Shabbat shalom and have a safe and celebratory July 4th holiday weekend.