created at: 2014-03-12The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has launched BunkConnectTM, a new program that matches eligible families with high-quality nonprofit Jewish summer camps at a more affordable price. This philanthropic business venture has been developed in collaboration with forward-thinking business executives and leading philanthropists.

“BunkConnect marries best practices from the business world, new technologies and learnings from the hospitality industry, and takes a fresh approach to addressing affordability in Jewish life,” said Michael Leven, president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., former camper and counselor, and key program funder. “I am excited for what this can achieve in getting more kids to have an experience that was so meaningful to me many years ago.”

Jewish overnight camp offers children the opportunity to discover who they are and build connections to the Jewish future while having the time of their lives. The experience is widely viewed as an essential part of fostering Jewish identity in children and creating a robust Jewish community.

This is how BunkConnect works: After income-eligible families of all Jewish backgrounds supply some basic, confidential information into the new online tool, BunkConnect matches them with available camp sessions at low introductory rates. This initiative is modeled after the success of FJC’s One Happy Camper program – a need-blind grant initiative for first-time campers.

“Families want to send their children to Jewish camp. By matching their desire with available summer experiences, we are opening new avenues of access,” said Jeremy J. Fingerman, CEO of FJC. “BunkConnect has the power to change how we look at scholarship, affordability, and capacity for Jewish camp and beyond.”

Len Leader, former president of the Venture Group of AOL Time Warner Investments and BunkConnect funder, said, “By using sound economic principles and leveraging market dynamics, we are seeing in BunkConnect an exciting new philanthropic business form. This is a model designed to be ‘the gift that keeps giving’ to all parties involved, especially the campers.”

BunkConnect will pilot in February 2014 in the Northeast, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions with 35 participating camps, representing various movements and denominations. The program is for first-time campers. It bases eligibility on a family’s adjusted gross income, number of dependent children, and place of legal residency. For example, through BunkConnect, a family with two children living in Pennsylvania with a maximum adjusted gross income of $142,000 can realize the dream of Jewish camp. Jewish day school families are welcome.

BunkConnect is a program of Foundation for Jewish Camp with The Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy (CEJP), made possible by generous funding from The AVI CHAI Foundation, The Leader Family Foundation, The Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation, and The Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund.

“The philanthropists we advise challenged us to create an outcome-driven business approach that capitalizes on the enormous impact of Jewish camping,” said Joseph Hyman, president and founder, CEJP. “BunkConnect is potentially a game-changing initiative that sets a standard for other philanthropists and organizations to follow.”

For more information, or to determine eligibility, please visit www.BunkConnect.org.

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