Several Jewish overnight camps that serve local residents have been awarded matching grants in order to improve their facilities to help attract more Jewish campers.
The program, called JCamp 180, is run by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation out of Western Massachusetts that’s named for the philanthropist perhaps best known for starting the PJ Library, which distributes Jewish books and music to young children for free.
Rather than focusing on staff development or programming — which is the purview of the Foundation for Jewish Camp — the initiative’s leaders work with camp boards and staff to improve their fundraising efforts to finance physical improvements and other infrastructure to better compete in the summer marketplace, according to foundation officials.
Over the past eight years, JCamp 180 has contributed more than $11.7 million in matching grant funds to nonprofit camps throughout North America. This year, 25 camps nationally have received new grants — known as Chai Match 2 — including three summer getaways whose offices are in the Philadelphia region.
The grants come in different dollar amounts. Some are offered on a one-to-one basis, meaning that the foundation will match every dollar raised by a particular camp, up to a specified amount. Other grants begin using the one-to-one model for the first phase, then transition to a one-to-three setup for the second phase — meaning the foundation will give roughly 33 cents for every dollar raised.
“We judge our success based on the viability of the camps with attracting campers,” said Mark Gold, who directs JCamp 180. “In the long run, our goal is to give more Jewish children a great summer Jewish educational experience. The way to do that is to make the camps more attractive to more children.”
And that takes money. The grants for area camps are as follows:
• Camp Galil, a Labor Zionist camp in Ottsville, Pa., is eligible for up to $36,000 in matching funds to renew camp facilities and provide operating and scholarship support.
This is the fourth time in eight years that Galil has been awarded a grant from JCamp 180. Over that time, Galil has raised over $400,000 of its own funds through the program, receiving a total of $125,000 from the initiative.
• Camp Pinemere in Stroudsburg, Pa., was awarded up to $18,000. In one prior grant, the camp received $38,000 from the foundation, raising an additional $114,000 on its own.
• Camp Harlam in Kunkletown, Pa., which was awarded up to $54,000 in a new grant, has previously received $53,000 from JCamp 180 and raised an additional $110,000.
Camp Ramah in the Poconos isn’t currently participating but has previously been awarded $73,000 in matching funds, raising an additional $220,000.
Camp JRF in South Sterling, Pa., isn’t currently involved in a matching grant program. But over the past eight years, it has received $325,000 from the foundation, raising $1.5 million on its own.