Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) Announces Challenge Award Winners

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Winners of the 2011 Challenge Award thought outside the box and implemented initiatives to address Jewish Day School sustainability.


Jewish Day School Sustainability

The challenge for applicants was to think innovatively, to defy their status quo, and to initiate bold changes within their school.

The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) today announced the winners of its 2011 Challenge Award to drive increased revenue through innovation. PEJE awarded $625,000 to Jewish day schools across North America for implementing initiatives that creatively responded to the day school sustainability challenge.

In all, 127 Jewish day schools rose to the challenge, submitting a total of 141 applications for a prize of $25,000 in unrestricted dollars. In two cases, two related schools implemented the same initiative and will share a prize, bringing the total number of winning schools to 27. In addition, 24 schools received an honorable mention for their innovation.

The review process was rigorous, with each application receiving multiple reviews. Applications were scored based on a weighted formula and ranked by PEJE professionals and a team of outside readers that included PEJE board members and experts in the field of Jewish day school education.

“The challenge for applicants was to think innovatively, to defy their status quo, and to initiate bold changes within their school with the intention of stimulating growth in one of their key revenue streams” said Amy Katz, Executive Director at PEJE. “We were thrilled by the large number of day schools who met these challenges with great purpose. Not only do we salute the winners; we also applaud each and every applicant for reimagining what is truly possible for Jewish day schools.”

Winning initiatives represent a rich diversity of focus area, denomination, geography, and school size.

  •     Fourteen winning schools submitted innovations for raising annual campaign revenue, 3 concentrated on endowment, and 10 schools submitted applications in tuition/affordability.
  •     An analysis of winning schools by denomination reveals that 13 are Community/multi-denominational, 7 are Orthodox, 6 are Conservative, and 1 is Reform.
  •     Geographically, winners emerged from British Columbia, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin.
  •     The variety of winners was also reflected in school size: 14 small schools (200 students and under) were declared winners, as were 9 medium schools (200 – 400 students) and 4 large schools (400 students and up).

“The winners are a diverse mix but they all have something in common: their determination and optimism. This list gives us a national picture, not of crisis, but of hope, hard work, innovation, and resiliency,” said PEJE Board Chair, Diane Troderman.

Going forward, PEJE will use these stories of innovation to help schools learn from one another, to refine programs of support and advocacy, and to vividly illustrate PEJE’s message of best practice and essential metrics to the Jewish day school field.

Challenge Award Winners

Akiva School of Nashville, Community Day (Pittsburgh), Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Hillel Academy, Hochberg Preparatory, JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School, Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, Kellman Brown Academy, King David High School, Lander-Grinspoon Academy, MetroWest Jewish Day School, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Oakland Hebrew Day School, Robbins Hebrew Academy, Robert M. Beren Academy, SAR Academy & High School, Seattle Jewish Community School, The Agnon School, The Day School at Baltimore Hebrew, The Doris and Alex Weber Jewish Community High School, The Ramaz School, Valley Beth Shalom, Weizmann Day School, YULA High School Boys, YULA High School Girls.

About PEJE

The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) believes that day schools are essential for fostering an engaged Jewish people for an enduring future. PEJE connects and empowers Jewish day schools and major stakeholders in the Jewish community across the denominational and geographic spectrum and offers unparalleled knowledge and resources to foster financial sustainability and affordability. PEJE is dedicated to impacting the field through bold initiatives to stimulate the core revenue streams of annual campaign, legacy, endowment, and tuition and to broaden the market for day school education. PEJE is uniquely positioned to advance the field through strong advocacy, strategic convenings, coalition building, and thought leadership. For more information visit


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