Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Program makes camp affordable


NEW YORK— The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has launched BunkConnectTM (BunkConnect.org), a new, national program that matches eligible families with high-quality nonprofit Jewish summer camps at a more affordable price. This philanthropic business venture has been developed in collaboration with forward-thinking business executives and leading philanthropists.

“BunkConnect marries best practices from the business world, new technologies and learnings from the hospitality industry, and takes a fresh approach to addressing affordability in Jewish life,” said Michael Leven, president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., former camper and counselor, and key program funder. “I am very excited to bring this program to a national stage and see how we can help more kids have a summer experience like those that were so meaningful to me many years ago.”

Jewish overnight camp offers children the opportunity to discover who they are and build connections to the Jewish future while having the time of their lives. The experience is widely viewed as an essential part of fostering Jewish identity in children and creating a robust Jewish community.

BunkConnect is an easy to use online system. After income-eligible families of all Jewish backgrounds supply some basic, confidential information into the new tool, BunkConnect matches them with available camp sessions at low introductory rates (40 percent-60 percent off list prices). This initiative is modeled after the success of FJC’s One Happy Camper program—a need-blind grant initiative for first-time campers.

“Families want to send their children to Jewish camp. By matching their desire with available summer experiences, we are opening new avenues of access,” said Jeremy J. Fingerman, CEO of FJC. “BunkConnect is changing how we look at scholarship, affordability, and capacity for Jewish camp and beyond.”

Len Leader, former president of the Venture Group of AOL Time Warner Investments and BunkConnect funder, said, “By using sound economic principles and leveraging market dynamics, we are seeing in BunkConnect an exciting new philanthropic business form. This is a model designed to be ‘the gift that keeps giving’ to all parties involved, especially the campers.”

BunkConnect launched nationally at the end of November with 75 participating camps, representing various movements and denominations. The program is for first-time campers, basing eligibility on a family’s adjusted gross income, number of dependent children, and place of legal residency. For example, through BunkConnect, a family with two children living in Illinois with a maximum adjusted gross income of $145,000 can realize the dream of Jewish camp. Jewish day school families are welcome.

BunkConnect is a program of Foundation for Jewish Camp with The Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy (CEJP), made possible by generous funding from The AVI CHAI Foundation, The Leader Family Foundation, The Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation, and The Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund with additional support from Eileen and Jerry Lieberman.

“The philanthropists we advise challenged us to create an outcome-driven business approach that capitalizes on the enormous impact of Jewish camping,” said Joseph Hyman, president and founder, CEJP. “BunkConnect is a game-changing initiative that sets a standard for other philanthropists and organizations to follow.”

For more information, or to determine eligibility, please visit http://www.BunkConnect.org.


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