Harold Grinspoon Foundation provides $25 million for Jewish summer camps


Next summer will see improvements for Jewish overnight camps as JCamp 180 — a core program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation — has announced that it will be supporting more than 100 camps over the next five years with a $25 million grant.

Children at a summer camp funded in part by grants from JCamps 180 (Courtesy of JCamps)

The “Forward Together” matching grant will help nonprofit Jewish summer camps afford physical improvements they may not be able to undergo otherwise. It functions as a 1:3 matching grant where for every $3 the camp raises, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation will provide an additional dollar.

Camps included in the effort will start out with a base allocation of funds. If they manage to quadruple that amount within the grant period, they will receive an additional bonus of $10,000.

Harold Grinspoon, the foundation’s founder, never actually went to a Jewish summer camp as a child, but views this time with peers as being extremely important to the development of Jewish youth.

“I know they are crucial ways for young people to plant the roots of lifelong Jewish connections,” he said. “I was overjoyed to have visited multiple camps in person this past summer after two summers away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I saw camps brimming with life, although continuing to struggle with significant mental health, staffing and infrastructure challenges after the pandemic. The Forward Together grant renews my commitment to helping position Jewish nonprofit overnight camps for long-term sustainability for generations.”

In the past 28 years, JCamp 180 has been the primary outlet through which Grinspoon has invested his wealth. Before the Forward Together grant was announced, he had contributed a total of $55 million to various summer camps.

Currently, JCamp 180 has partnered with 100-plus nonprofit Jewish overnight camps and 40 Jewish day camps to provide them with monetary aid, training and other resources.

“They make their own determinations as to which camps may qualify for different grants,” said Havi Goldscher, CEO of Capital Camps, one of the recipients of the Forward Together grant. “It takes a huge onus off the individual camps so they do not have to make specific requests to the foundation.”

Goldscher works out of the camp’s office in Maryland. Despite Capital Camps’ Pennsylvania location, they primarily serve campers from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Capital Camps plans to use the money they receive from the grant not only to improve the camp itself but to leverage community support.

“The intention and motivation of the grant is just as important as the utility of the funds for our philanthropic community and campaigns, and for our alumni to understand that there’s a national recognition that needs support on this level to be able to plan for the future,” said Goldscher. “That’s a really important story for us to share with our communities and with our philanthropic partners.”

‘Really important that people understand the impact’

Habonim Dror Camp Moshava, which has offices in North Bethesda and is located in Street, Md., is also a recipient of the Forward Together grant. JCamp 180 also offers similar matching grants to Jewish day camps across the country, though Forward Together is exclusive to overnight camps.

“I think [the Harold Grinspoon Foundation] deeply understands that it’s a tremendous philanthropic endeavor to support camps,” said Goldscher, “and to do it through meaningful substantial resources in order to sustain the work we’re doing now and into the future. I think it’s really important that people understand the impact of JCamp 180.”

Sarah Eisinger, who serves as the director of JCamp 180, said that “this support will give the camps the resources and tools to maintain and steward their current donors and attract new ones.”

The grant, she continued, is very timely for camps who want to improve upon the past successes they have had with fundraising, and “we hope this match gives the camps the confidence to continue sharing the power of Jewish camps so they can be sustainable into the future.”

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