Day school grants in exchange for learning

Posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2013
Intermountain Jewish News

ROSE Community Foundation and the Kohelet Foundation have partnered to fund a Denver program that covers part of day school tuition in exchange for parents’ commitment to study Jewish texts.
RCF has commited $52,000 over two years and the Kohelet Foundation has commited as much as $120,000 over two years.

Families will earn $1,000 per year when one parent completes the two-year program and $1,250 per year if both parents complete it.

For Jewish day school parents, the grant is made directly to the family’s day school and applied as a tuition credit.

ECE families participate in the learning program together with the day school parents and then “bank” their grant to be applied if and when their child enrolls in a Jewish day school.

This pilot program aims to strengthen connections between current and prospective day school parents.

The program’s introduction to Denver was prompted by Denver native, Aaron Greenstein, now a first-year medical student in New York, and a former award-winning intern at the Intermountain Jewish News.

After his graduation from Yeshiva University, Greenstein was a presidential fellow at YU’s Center for Jewish Future, where he focused primarily on the fellowship. A Denver JDS graduate, Greenstein saw it as a perfect fit for his alma mater. Having served on the Rose Youth Foundation board during high school, Greenstein also understood that RCF would identify with the goals of the fellowship.

He reached out to the local parties, and a partnership was born.

ON Oct. 9, 92 parents of students at two Jewish day schools and five Jewish early childhood education centers in Denver attended an orientation for the Kohelet fellowships program.

At the orientation, the parents engaged in an evening of high-energy text study in small groups, some seated with friends, and many with fellow Jewish day school or Jewish ECE center parents they’d never met.

Shayna Friedman, director of admissions at Denver JDS, and Rabbi Daniel Alter, head of school of DAT, greeted the parents from the various schools, whose convergence for Jewish learning together is unprecedented.

The five ECE centers are those at The Denver Synagogue, Rodef Shalom, HEA and the Loup JCC.

The Kohelet fellowship partners with two educational providers: the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, and YU’s Center for the Jewish Future.

JLI courses are taught by Rabbi Yossi Serebryanski.

YU administers the one-on-one chavruta learning, in which parents may learn with their partners by phone, skype or in-person.

In both tracks, parents learn exclusively with other parents in the program.

Kohelet fellows study Jewish texts together, either in the courses or one-on-one, participate in school learning events, and explore the lessons with their families.

THE Kohelet Foundation funds the development and administrative costs of the multi-city program.

The program’s goal is to promote day school affordability combined with adult Jewish education, and to sustain life-long Torah learning among all day school parents in a community, as a means to generate Jewish communal responsibility for and commitment to day schools.

“Holly Cohen, executive director of the Kohelet Foundation, is “thrilled to bring the program to Denver in partnership with the Rose Community Foundation.

“Our hope is that participation in the Kohelet program, with its focus on the importance of Jewish learning, will fortify parents’ commitment to their children’s day school education and further strengthen the excellent Jewish day schools in Denver.”

Lisa Farber Miller, senior program officer at RCF, adds:

“We are so pleased to partner with the Kohelet Foundation to bring this innovative learning program to parents at Denver day schools and ECEs.

“The Kohelet fellowships build community through learning, bringing parents from seven diverse institutions together for a common purpose.

“While the primary beneficiaries of this program are parents, the fellowships will help schools increase learning across generations while reducing the financial burden on their parents.

“We know that after two years, this highly educated cohort can be mobilized for the good of the schools and the Jewish community.”

Rebecca Goldberg directs the Kohelet Fellowships Program at the Kohelet Foundation, Rabbi Mendel Popack is the national administrator of the JLI for the the program, as well as the new Chabad shaliach in Stapleton, and Rabbi Avi Narrow-Tilonsky is the national administrator of YU CJF for the program.

The program engages 500 parents in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Kansas City and New York as well as Denver, and has had cohorts in central New Jersey, Long Island, Memphis and Philadelphia.

1,500 parents around the country have participated in the program to date.

The Kohelet Foundation is founded and funded by Philadelphia’s David Magerman.


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