To solve the problem of unaffordable Jewish education it is incumbent upon the community to think of approaches that reach outside the “usual” way of doings, that are new, that have not yet been tried here, that are more revolutionary than evolutionary.
Steve Freedman, the head of Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit has written an article for Jeducation World entitled Does a “Loyalty” Tuition Grant Program Work? in which he describes such a new approach at his Hillel Day School.
He writes, “The school launched a new tuition grant program to address affordability for families who are not eligible for tuition assistance, but who nevertheless worry about the high cost of tuition. In partnership with a major local foundation, the Hillel Tuition Grant program, for first through eighth graders, not only insures that tuition will never be higher than the first year a child enters Hillel, but that it will actually decrease in each subsequent year. Each year, through eighth grade, the value of the grant goes up by $1,000.”
“Those of us who have been working closely on this grant believe that it has made a difference — and that the impact is only beginning. …” Freedman writes.
The key message for us is not necessarily the specifics of the Hillel Day School program, although it commends itself to community leaders here for study and possible application. Rather, the key message is that Freedman’s school in Detroit is demonstrably trying new, innovative ideas. Merely demonstrating to parents of children in our schools that something new is being tried to help them manage their onerous tuition costs will go a long way to encouraging parents who are struggling financially to keep their children in the school to have hope for the future.
“The purpose of the grant becomes more powerful each year,” Freedman continues. “Eligible families, dedicated to Hillel Day School receive a larger grant each year, rewarding their loyalty, and providing families increasing financial relief as their children get older…”
Freedman concludes with a statement that GAJE wholeheartedly endorses.
“A Jewish day school education has a disproportionate positive impact on the Jewish community; we believe that it is in the larger Jewish community’s best interest that Hillel, and other Jewish day schools, in addition to offering financial assistance, develop and sustain programs that assist the middle- and higher-income families that are stressed over maintaining the quality of life they work hard for, while investing in day school education.”
The annual Limmud Toronto conference takes place this year on March 19 at St. Andrews Club & Conference Centre in downtown Toronto. The program includes the following sessions:
- Jewish Education: Do We Want it? Can We Afford It? – Jeffrey Stutz
- A Viable Alternative to the Financial Crisis in Jewish Education – Sholom Eisenstat
Other sessions also focus on Jewish education but from different perspectives.
Readers are encouraged to consult limmud.ca for the full schedule of events.
We urge GAJE members to register for the conference.