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The Schmooze

Initiative Gives Boston-Area Jewish Families Day School Tuition Aid

Boston-area Jewish day schools got a major boost this week — in the form of $2.1 million.

For the next three years, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston will use the funds to help Jewish families send their children to one of 10 local day schools, including the Maimonides School in Brookline and the MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham. The Discover Day School Initiative, as it’s called, will help families who earn up to $250,000 a year better afford tuition from kindergarten through second grade. Each voucher covers $4,000 per student.

“It’s going to help people who really want to send their children to a Jewish day school, but who feel tuition now is just too big of a bite,” Jane Cohen, head of school at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day School in Norwood, told the Boston Globe. At Schechter, tuition is $18,700 per student for the 2010-2011 school year.

Gathered from 34 individual donors, the initiative strives to increase enrollment in Boston-area Jewish day schools while relieving the financial strain on “middle-tier” income families.

“It’s a targeted effort dealing with a large problem facing the Jewish community nationally,” Gil Preuss, executive vice president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, told the Forward. “We worked very closely with the schools in developing this, and it’s really hitting a key population that they’ve been struggling to support.” He added that the initiative is meant to “create an incentive to have [Jewish families] look at day schools and send their kids.”

There are roughly 2,700 students in grades K-12 in Boston’s 13 Jewish day schools. Enrollment has gone up over the past five years, but despite an increase of 120 students at the 10 day schools that start in kindergarten, the growth has leveled off (hello, recession). That’s where the initiative comes in. In January 2011, families can enter their information on the website to find out whether or not they qualify.

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