The Narberth-based Kohelet Foundation is teaming up with the national AVI CHAI Foundation to provide up to $3 million in matching funds in an effort to expand the base of donors supporting Jewish day schools throughout North America.
This is the first time the local foundation has helped seed the MATCH program, which the Jewish Funders Network and Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education organized on three previous occasions since 2004, with funding from AVI CHAI and other partners.
"We're trying to draw attention to the idea that day schools aren't just about the kids who attend day school, it's about the community," said philanthropist David Magerman, who funds the Kohelet Foundation. "It's a community institution" and "should be supported by the whole community."
In fact, Magerman, of Gladwyne, said he first became involved in day school philanthropy through MATCH, using the national initiative to leverage a gift to Torah Academy not long after he moved to the area about five years ago.
Since then, he established his foundation and has funneled more than $15 million into tuition incentives, staff, special programs and capital improvements that have benefited all the day schools in the area.
Magerman said he believes there are many more local donors who could support day schools, and maybe matching grants will bring them out.
"People feel very good about getting leverage on their money, so it's an effective approach on donations in general," said Magerman.
Ideally, the incentive will trigger new relationships with donors that endure long past MATCH, just like what happened with Magerman, added Holly Cohen, executive director of Kohelet.
Kohelet and AVI CHAI have pledged 50 cents for every dollar donated through MATCH, up to $3 million. To be eligible, new donors must give at least $10,000 and cannot be parents of current day school students. Those who have donated to day schools before may also leverage the funds if they donate at least five times the amount of their largest previous gift.
While schools are encouraged to solicit as many donations as possible through the program, each school can only receive up to $50,000 in matching funds.
Applications from donors will be accepted from Aug. 1 through Jan. 15, 2013, and the matching funds allocated on a rolling basis until the entire $3 million has been disbursed, along with at least $6 million in donations, infusing a total of $9 million into day school education.
Right now, so much of the funding for day schools comes from parents, "and everyone's a little bit panicked about that," said Avi Zollman, director of communications for the Jewish Funders Network.
"Day schools are a community resource," Zollman continued, "a critical part of building the Jewish community for the entire community, not just the parents who can afford to be there."
For more information about MATCH, visit: www.dayschoolmatch.org.