In recent years many of us have become even more concerned with the affordability of Jewish life in North America. The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) continues to work hard to find ways for more children to benefit from unparalleled Jewish summers at camp, which research clearly shows, leads to more active engagement in the Jewish community later in life. I am excited to share the launch this week of BunkConnect™, a new program that will match eligible moderate- and lower-income families with high-quality nonprofit Jewish summer camps at a more affordable price.

BunkConnect is truly a pioneering initiative for families who think that camp may not be affordable for them. It also allows FJC to further our mission of increasing the number of children benefiting from immersive summers at a Jewish camp. And, it represents a powerful philanthropic, collaborative model.

In 2014, BunkConnect will pilot in the Northeast, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions with over 35 participating camps, representing various movements and denominations. The program is geared toward first-time campers and takes into consideration a family’s adjusted gross income, number of dependent children, place of legal residency, and if they have children attending Jewish day school. There are currently over 1,200 opportunities available for children to experience Jewish camp through the platform.

While this is an exciting new enterprise to address a pressing need in our community, BunkConnect is a true innovation and collaboration with our partners and forward-thinking philanthropists. BunkConnect is a program of Foundation for Jewish Camp in partnership 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. We are grateful for the role Joseph Hyman, president and founder of CEJP, played in making this initiative possible. Each participating funder imparted invaluable perspective, insight, and expertise into this venture and has made it much better as a result.

I am very proud of the entire team that enabled this innovative program to come to fruition. We are thankful for the camps who not only gave helpful input but also trusted and partnered with us to develop this potentially game-changing approach to affordability.

We will be monitoring and refining the program in the coming months and I look forward to updating you on expansion to other regions, its impact on our community, and the fruits that we will all bear as more children attend Jewish summer camp. In the meantime, please feel free to spread the word to anyone who may think camp is out of reach, because it’s not anymore!

I encourage you to take a moment and read Rabbi Jason Miller’s article on BunkConnect which appeared in the Huffington Post this week, “Using a Business Model to Make Jewish Summer Camp Affordable.”