Camp and academic scholarships help support life-changing experiences

By Todd Sandler • Development Officer


Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis is proud and privileged to be able to administer scholarship support for both summer camp and post-secondary educational opportunities. While each of the 30-plus programs and services we make available to our community are incredibly important, and have tremendous impact, it is my personal, biased opinion that easing the burden on families to provide their children with camp and college experiences literally changes the lives of both the parents and their children in a phenomenally unique way.


In fact, ensuring that kids, young adults, and those returning to school have access to camp and college influences each of us. Our community grows stronger, more connected and more informed with every dollar spent investing in its future.


Fees to attend camp vary greatly, especially when comparing day camp and overnight camp experiences. However, the cost has undoubtedly increased, to no fault of individual camps. According to the American Camp Association, “the average weekly fee for resident camps ranges from $200 to over $1,500 per week, and the average day camp fee is $100 to $275 per week.” So while kids are incredibly thankful for their nearly 12-weeks of summer vacation, the financial strain placed on families to keep their children engaged, learning and safe can be crippling, costing well over $1,200 on average for each child.


While many of us are familiar with the rising cost of attending summer camp, attending college or pursuing a post-secondary educational opportunity has also become more expensive (an understatement!), and often cost-prohibitive. Nevertheless, it is imperative that communities place great importance on creating educational access so those we love or consider our friend or neighbor – and frankly any person living among us – has the opportunity to better themselves academically and provide more value to society.


According to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, “During the recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, workers without postsecondary education suffered tremendous job losses. The recovery has been virtually nonexistent for less-educated workers.” This has resulted in the cementation of the fact that “a college degree continues to be the most important economic asset for those who want to succeed in the labor market.”


While on paper it may appear that families have the resources necessary to make attending summer camp or college a reality for their child, expenses add up quickly. The cost of daily necessities such as groceries and clothing coupled with unexpected medical bills, car accidents and emergency home fixes can make it difficult to maintain financial stability, and no tax return can succinctly tell that story.


JFCS employs a holistic approach to meeting the needs of those we serve, and with that, place great emphasis on getting to know each individual we interact with so as to maximize impact and success. We take special note of narratives that parents write and provide to us when they apply for camp scholarship support, or when an individual submits an application for academic scholarship support.


Thanks to the investment that community members, family foundations and estates have made in JFCS’ endowment funds and unrestricted giving, along with Minneapolis Jewish Community Foundation funds operated by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, JFCS was able to provide the following in way of camp and academic scholarship throughout 2017:


  • Over $57,000 was provided in camp scholarship to over 170 kids
  • 11 JFCS ACT program participants had the opportunity to attend camp for their first, or second time!
  • Support for kids to attend one of 14 different camps – with a majority that operate in or near the Twin Cities
  • Over $64,000 was provided in academic scholarship to over 45 applicants, effectively lowering each applicants reliance on loans
  • Academic financial support was provided to: 37 undergraduate students; seven students pursuing a graduate degree, or are returning to school to increase their potential earning power; 19 students attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; three students pursuing the Rabbinate and/or a degree in Jewish education


My takeaway:


In 2017, JFCS provided over 200 scholarships to members of our community. These scholarships will mitigate stress and lower the financial burden on recipients pursuing integral development experiences. These experiences will undoubtedly pay back dividends for each of us, as together we are propping up, empowering and demonstrating a real sense of compassion for fellow community members to achieve the best versions of themselves.


One time or another, each of us will find ourselves in a vulnerable position. How lucky are we to have JFCS standing by, waiting to lend a hand to provide essential services to people of all ages and backgrounds to sustain healthy relationships, ease suffering and offer support in times of need?!


Support camp and academic scholarships by making a contribution HERE.