The Barrack Foundation announced it created a $1 million scholarship to assist academically strong students with leadership qualities in attending the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr.
The Madlyn Abramson Fund for Excellence in Education and Community Leadership will provide awards and scholarship assistance to students from middle-class families “who demonstrate outstanding academic performance and exemplify Jewish communal leadership qualities,” according to a news release.
Head of School Sharon Levin said the scholarships will allow the school to attract top students.
“We will really be able to put out to the community … that Barrack is a place where if you show not only academic potential but leadership, too, we want you,” she said. “We want to take every child who wants to come.”
Chief Operating Officer Alex Stroker said the scholarship serves to address a potential vacuum of future leadership akin to families like the Abramsons and Barracks, which have offered support for the Jewish community for years.
“They can feel comfortable that there will be a next level taking over for them,” he said.
Levin noted that independent schools like Barrack can be expensive, which can restrict the potential applicant pool.
“There are many people who will never look at us,” she said. “If they look at us, we have a great conversion rate … This will put Barrack on the radars of more families.”
Like all independent schools — Jewish or otherwise — Barrack, which has 337 students enrolled this year, faces a constant challenge in attracting students, Levin said. She pointed out that many schools are still rebuilding from the 2008 Great Recession, and the pandemic is creating a level of uncertainty going forward.
“We have yet to know what this year of COVID will do,” she said, adding that the school also raised $1 million for COVID-related emergency scholarships this year.
Both the Abramsons and Barracks have played a key role in the development of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy.
Madlyn Abramson died on April 15 at 84. She and her husband, Leonard, the former CEO of US Healthcare, founded the Abramson Family Foundation, which has made multiple contributions to educational initiatives.
“Our Jewish future depends on making sure that we pass on our mantle of leadership to the next generation,” Madlyn often said, according to Len Barrack, who runs the Barrack Foundation along with his wife, Lynne. “Lynne and I felt that creating this fund would be quite appropriate to pay tribute to and honor the memory of Madlyn.”
“These are the things that were important to our dearest friend, Madlyn. We have always spoken about the need to provide financial assistance to the best and brightest students in our Jewish community,” Lynne Barrack said.