TORONTO — UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Centre for Jewish Education has introduced a new initiative that aims to double the number of students in supplementary education programs over the next three years.
There are now an estimated 5,000 youngsters, age four to 17, currently enrolled in such programs.
The new initiative – called “WOW!” –was launched in collaboration with philanthropists Phyllis Flatt and Harold Wolfe, who are siblings.
The federation is matching their donation, but the donors have requested that the amount not be made public, according to Ed Segalowitz, executive director of the centre.
“We’re providing significant funding as seed funding to help the organizations coming forward with business plans, to help them raise the bar for their own programming,” Segalowitz told The CJN. “We’re looking at innovative projects.”
The initiative is for “those not choosing to take the day school route,” he said. “We encourage kids to take day school options, but day school options are not for everybody. A significant number don’t go to day school, and here’s a way we’re trying to reach out to them.”
The centre is also “looking at how to address the issues” of day school affordability, Segalowitz said.
The first four beneficiaries of the WOW! program are City Shul, Neshama Congregation of York Region, PJ Library, and Torah High.
Torah High is using the grant to support new initiatives including online courses, night school and summer courses, and an Israel summer program.
Neshama and City Shul, both new congregations, are “reaching out and bringing Jewish education to part of the population that wasn’t getting any,” Segalowitz said.
He declined to provide details on PJ Library’s use of the funding yet, saying only that it’s “a significant opportunity for them and the community.”
The federation portion of the new funding comes from the annual UJA campaign, Segalowitz said. “We are shifting resources within our supplementary education… We give grants to supplementary schools, and we still are.”
As well, the centre recently introduced scholarships for supplementary schools for the 2013-14 school year.
The centre provides $10 million in day school tuition subsidies, and was providing about half a million dollars for supplementary Jewish education before the WOW! project was introduced.
Wolfe, the spokesperson for himself and Flatt, could not be reached at the time of writing, but Segalowitz said the pair had been “expressing interest in this field, and they wanted to do something to help the community, so it was a terrific match.”