Partners in the News

Day School Endowments In L.A.

– by The Jewish Week

February 12th, 2015

The Jewish WeekGeorge Rohr’s op-ed provides us with a salient and powerful message: Day
schools help ensure a vibrant Jewish future (“Tackling The Day School Affordability Crisis,” Education Supplement, Jan. 30). And in order for day schools to
 survive and thrive, they need long-term viable income streams. Investing in 
and building endowments for day schools addresses that critical need. Over the past several years, Los Angeles has also been investing in day
school endowments.

A lead gift commitment by the Lainer family in 2007 
initiated development of the Simha and Sara Lainer Day School Endowment Fund,
a 1:4 match to incentivize schools to build endowments. In 2009, in
partnership with BJE-Los Angeles and the Jewish Federation, the Jim Joseph
Foundation provided a generous grant (The Los Angeles High School
 Affordability Initiative) that provided resources for coaching and training,
 built schools’ development infrastructure, created a culture of giving, and
provided middle-income tuition assistance while the high schools raised 
endowments to sustain these tuition grants.

Over the past six years, at the participating high schools, fundraising culture 
changed dramatically, as existing donors were educated and new donors were
brought on board.
 To date, the five participating high schools have collectively raised nearly
$17 million for endowment, matched by an additional $4.25 million from the
 Lainer fund. More importantly, each school now has a growing endowment that 
will generate distributions for tuition assistance beyond the grant period.

And endowment has caught on in a big way in Los Angeles. To date, 12
elementary/middle schools have participated in the Generations project,
sponsored by PEJE and The AVI CHAI Foundation, and have collectively raised 
over $10.5 million, with a new cohort of schools scheduled to begin later this
 year. Are the schools done? Of course not. As Mr. Rohr points out, it is
critical that endowments continue to expand and grow to meet the needs of 
future families and students.

The two programs in L.A. are models for other communities and BJE, with the 
support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, has created a website,, where donors, schools, and communities 
interested in undertaking endowment development can obtain detailed
 information on what we have learned and how to implement similar initiatives
in their own school or community.