Marcus Foundation re-ups on camp “MBA” program
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Marcus Foundation re-ups on camp “MBA” program

The Atlanta-based Marcus foundation has re-upped on a grant to help better train leaders of nonprofit Jewish overnight camps.

The foundation has given $850,000 to the Foundation for Jewish Camp to help give camp directors executive training through its Executive Leadership Institute.

The program, which the FJC likens to an MBA program for camp directors, provides intensive training in business management, fundraising, and leadership skills.

Some 36 camp directors have gone through the program since it was started in 2006. 

In total the Marcus Foundation has now given $3 million to the FJC for the initiative.

Here’s the press release:



The Marcus Foundation Commits to Support Jewish Camp Director Training for a Third Time 

The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), the only public organization dedicated to nonprofit Jewish summer camp, has generously received a third-time grant from the Marcus Foundation to support a new cycle of its successful Executive Leadership Institute (ELI).

This grant brings the Marcus Foundation’s total donation to FJC to almost $3 million and provides continued support for an innovative project with a proven track record of success.

The first two cycles of this initiative, which began in 2006, have already graduated 36 directors and has had a direct impact on the more than 18,000 campers and the thousands of college-aged counselors they serve each summer. This pioneering professional development program for the 21st century camp director, characterized as an executive MBA program, provides intensive training in business management, fundraising, and leadership skills.

Camp directors work year-round, confronting challenges and dealing with issues a mayor of a town might meet including overseeing multi-million dollar budgets, hiring and supervising a staff of several hundred, managing communications, supervising physical sites, working with a boards of directors, initiating new programs, and much more.

This one-of-a-kind program weaves together the best of private sector leadership and management training with Jewish values and ethics to create the premier training program for Jewish camp professional leaders.

The camp directors who made up the first two ELI cohorts tout the benefits they and their camps received from this intensive professional development program:

•As a result of her ELI participation, Michelle Koplan, Director, B’nai B’rith Camp in Neotsu, OR, is successfully working with her board in a master planning process which has already resulted in achieving independence from the camp’s former sponsoring organization. It also enabled the camp to raise nearly $2 million in a capital funds and the ability to welcome an additional 100 campers.

•David Berkman, Director of URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA, is using his ELI training to create and oversee lay committees that offer strategic oversight and development, ensuring his new camp’s success and sustainability. •Michael Wolf, Director of Camp Ramah in Canada in Utterson, ON, credits ELI with training him in public speaking, improving his physical stance, eye contact, pacing, and intonation among the small yet important new communication skills.

Now, while on recruitment visits he is able to more clearly communicate his camp mission and history, introducing brand-new families to his camp.

•Many other camps have also benefited from their director’s new fundraising skills including Camp Young Judaea Texas in Wimberley, TX, Camp Ramah New England in Palmer, MA, and Camp Tawonga in Groveland, CA.

“To put it simply, ELI made me a better director,” explains Doug Lynn, Director, Wilshire Boulevard Temple camps, Malibu, CA “Throughout the program, we as a cohort were pushed to examine camp and ourselves through a new lens and a new paradigm. Many (if not all) of us came up through the ranks of camp as people who were very good at working with children and with staff but none of us were trained to run multimillion-dollar not-for-profit organizations with major facilities, boards, and fundraising responsibilities.

ELI provided me with the tools, skills, and resources to reexamine how to run and grow a camp.” In recognition of the quantitative and qualitative impact of the ELI program to date, the Marcus Foundation promised another $850,000 for the program’s continuation.

“We all must continue to share and learn,” declares Bernie Marcus, CEO, Marcus Foundation, “The Executive Leadership Institute allows some of our best professionals in the Jewish community to come together and look inward and outwardly at best practices from all fields. I hope the result is committed Jewish teens and improved leadership. ELI can facilitate new visions to increase enrollments and the impact of the summer experience.”

The Executive Leadership Institute is viewed by those within the camp field and in the Jewish communal world more broadly, as a program that successfully produces professional leaders with the vision, presence, and skill to create change and excellence. The fellowship consists of six seminars over the course of 14-months, executive coaching, and the use of customer satisfaction survey instruments, among other vital tools. With two cycles completed, the program has also created a certain esprit de corps among its graduates, generating avital network of camp directors who support one another in becoming vision-driven leaders.

“Camp directors operating in 2010 and beyond, require training and tools to make their camps and the camp field flourish. Adapting lessons from the private sector, the Marcus Foundation has the vision and leadership to extend these best practices to the nonprofit world,” Skip Vichness, Chairman of the Foundation for Jewish Camp says. “We are grateful for the continued investment that the Marcus Foundation has made to support the growth of Jewish camps.”

ELI III applications will be available Spring 2011 and the program will begin in Fall 2011.

### The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is the only public organization dedicated solely to nonprofit Jewish overnight camps. FJC employs a variety of strategies toward a single goal: to increase the number of children in Jewish summer camps. To this end, the Foundation creates inspiring camp leaders, expands access to and intensifies demand for camp, and develops programs to strengthen camps across the Jewish spectrum in North America. Through strategic partnerships on local and national levels, FJC raises the profile of Jewish camp and serves as a central resource for parents and organizations alike. Every summer, FJC works with more than 155 camps, 70,000 campers, and 10,000 counselors across North America to further its mission.