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October 9, 2018 9:41 am

$12 Million Grant to Support Accessibility Upgrades at Day and Overnight Camps

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Children at summer camp. Photo: Foundation for Jewish Camp.

JNS.org – The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation just announced a $12 million grant to the Foundation for Jewish Camp that will support a new initiative to increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities at Jewish summer day and overnight camps.

“We do not want parents of children with disabilities to have to choose between giving them the meaningful experience of Jewish camp or supporting their children’s needs. With this initiative, we hope to create a world in which this choice is no longer necessary by ensuring campers with disabilities have access to transformative Jewish summers,” said FJC board chair Julie Beren Platt.

Jewish camp is a tool for decreasing learning loss over the summer while building Jewish identity, community and leadership. According to a 2013 Foundation for Jewish Camp survey, camp professionals highlighted two areas that required financial support to better serve children with disabilities: capital improvements to increase accessibility and disability training for staff.

“Through this initiative, the Weinberg Foundation will continue its commitment to serving vulnerable populations by ensuring that all children have access to this formative part of a Jewish upbringing, regardless of race, family economic ability, specific Jewish background or disability,” said Rachel Garbow Monroe, president and CEO of the Weinberg Foundation. “This initiative is especially critical because it will not only benefit the camps that receive direct funding, but will also advance the field with best-practice information regarding inclusion models and training for staff.”

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The $12 million, three-year grant includes $10 million to support capital projects, as well as $1.4 million in program grants ranging between $20,000 and $30,000 to any camp receiving a capital grant. In addition, $600,000 will support FJC’s operation of this initiative, including oversight of an evaluation and development of inclusion-training programs for camp leadership and camp inclusion directors.

Projects funded by this initiative will support individuals with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and physical and sensory disabilities. Examples of capital projects include increasing asphalt/paving to expand accessibility; building or renovating facilities to better serve campers (wheelchair accommodations, ramps, grab bars, lighting, HVAC installation, emergency medical stations); and installing “zero-entry” systems or other mechanisms to make swimming pools accessible in a dignified manner.

Over the next three years, there will be a series of open application periods for camps to submit applications. The Foundation for Jewish Camp will lead the application process.

For more details, see www.jewishcamp.org/accessibility.

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