Baltimore, MD - Oct. 17, 2018 - A family incurs staggering credit card debt to ensure that their children’s day school education remains sound, and to avoid public school at any cost. A parent foregoes a dental visit if there’s a co-pay, instead putting the money toward day school tuition. A mother literally loses sleep at night worrying about where tuition will come from, and when she receives assistance feels that it’s a gift from G-d.
These are all real stories of dedicated parents, in Baltimore, who know that the Jewish day school experience is a powerful anchor that keeps young people engaged in their Jewish communities, and their faith. But it comes at a cost, literally.
As students return to school, parents are faced with mounting pressures to pay for day school education for their children. When the costs add up, parents often need to depend on outside resources for help.
Dr. Michael Elman, who serves as co-chair of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Day School Commission, says that his team, which is comprised of all sectors of the Jewish community, works to address “common issues and solutions” and “to work for the good of all of the day schools” to help them, and the Jewish community, remain strong.
Each year, The Associated’s support reaches more than 5,000 students and ranges from scholarship assistance to educational resources.
Over the past 15 years, Baltimore’s Jewish day schools have received more than $62 million in scholarship assistance from The Associated, through per capita grants distributed annually. Those dollars come from The Associated’s Annual Campaign and through additional fundraising on behalf of the day schools and the children they serve.
Elman first learned about resources The Associated could provide for day schools in 1993, when he was chair of the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, now in its 101st year.
“After the 75th anniversary, T.A. encountered very serious financial concerns,” Elman said, “and we really didn’t know where to go, so we went to The Associated.”
Then-Associated president Darrell Friedman, “taught us how to turn the school around. The business of The Associated board of directors was the business of the Talmudical Academy,” Elman said. “They got us new financing for the mortgage which was in foreclosure. They helped us fundraise, they helped us get the house in order.”
Attorney Elizabeth Green, also a member of The Associated’s Day School Commission, advocates for Jewish day schools from a unique vantage point.
Green currently serves on the board of Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore and is a vice president on The Associated’s Baltimore Jewish Council, where her resolute advocacy for day schools helped to land her on Gov. Larry Hogan’s BOOST task force (non-public school funding allocations for need-based scholarships). She’s currently serving her third term.
“What I’ve been able to bring to BOOST is an awareness of the issues of families who are low income, who desire to send their children to a Jewish day school,” she said.
“I've been able to educate the members on the fact that because we believe a Jewish day school is a necessity not a choice, families will sacrifice just about anything to get their child into, and keep their child in, a Jewish day school.
Because of her work on the Bnos Yisroel board, Green has experienced The Associated’s support first hand. She was part of “a very intense two-year program to educate schools on building an endowment. The Associated and The Russell Family Foundation paid for the Baltimore schools to participate, and even gave a bit of cash to start the endowment.”
The process included each school working with a coach for two years to help with endowment plans and fundraising, and The Associated also provided assistance in managing the endowment funds.
“They’re committed. The leadership, they’re on board. It goes beyond the individual allocations — The Associated addresses a number of issues. They really have our backs in making sure that schools are made viable and that goes beyond dollars,” says Elman.