• Charles Cohen

    This is really helpful. It’s crucial for schools to understand the difference between sustainability and affordability – if you’re addressing one, you’re not necessarily tackling the other.

  • Rachel

    As a point of correction, in Los Angeles it is BJE: Builders of Jewish Education that is currently working with 12 day schools to help them build endowment. While the Federation is certainly a partner in that BJE is the lead central agency and the recipient of 2 significant grants from Jim Joseph Foundation and AVI CHAI Foundation to address both affordability and sustainability through endowment and planned giving.

  • Patricia

    Our research at Measuring Success supports your point about the importance of perceived value. This is a central theme in a white paper we put out with PEJE and Avi Chai – http://bit.ly/10MD6uC.

    You’re completely correct too, that it is crucial to tease apart the concept of affordability from the true issue of sustainability. That tip made it to #1 on our list of top things to remember when thinking about affordability (see the list here – http://bit.ly/16FmoC9)

  • Adam

    Thanks Patricia for the links. It looks to me like the author of the CJN article is the same author as the Measuring Success white paper – Daniel Held. He’s spreading the gospel of affordable and sustainable Jewish education wide and far.

  • Isaac Shalev

    Affordability and sustainability are different, and kudos for drawing the distinction. However, it’s also important to separate out the customers. Schools actually have a pretty sophisticated approach to pricing. Much like airlines, schools use differential pricing to match tuition pricing to ability to pay. There are schools where families who earn over $200k annually are nonetheless on “tuition assistance”, reflecting a reality that tuition prices are set based on the capacity of the wealthiest parents, and then discounted down the income spectrum.

    The focus on ‘perceived value’ is really just a way of saying that schools need to compete more effectively against other spending priorities. That schools need to market themselves more effectively, prove their value and importance, and appeal to potential donors in a more compelling way. Certainly, this could help. But it doesn’t really address the central issue: Day school, and private school more broadly, is an elitist institution. While it has many merits, when it competes against other funding priorities, it will have only a limited broad appeal. The answer for day schools is the same in the secular and Jewish world – alumni themselves. Schools need to look to endowments, legacy giving, and much better alumni relations and stewardship of its own constituents.