September 18, 2019

Jewish Camps Get Grants to Increase Accessibility for Campers, Staff With Disabilities

Erez with friends Dvir and Dor welcome Shabbat at Camp Ramah in California. Photo courtesy of Erez Marchini

(JTA) — Sixteen Jewish camps in North America have been awarded grants to increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities.

The grants are part of the $12 million Yashar Initiative, a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp funded by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The Yashar Initiative was designed to address the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, as well as people with intellectual, developmental, physical and sensory disabilities.

The grants will go for capital improvements, professional development, staff training, research and evaluation.

Each of the first 16 camps that received grants was required to independently raise 25 percent of the project’s cost before applying. They will receive money for both capital improvements, as well as a program grant totaling $2.5 million for the first round of the initiative. The camps anticipate finishing their improvements by the summer of 2020.

Each grant recipient also committed to increasing its total campers with disabilities to at least 5 percent of the camper population.

The California Camps are Camp Keff near Palo Alto; Camp Ramah in Ojai; and Camp Tawonga in San Francisco.

Other camps that received the grants are Beber Camp, Wisconsin; B’nai Brith Camp, Oregon; Camp Ramah Poconos, Pennsylvania; Camp Simcha, New York; Camp Solomon Schechter, Washington;  JCC Camp Chi, Wisconsin; JCC Camp Ruach, New Jersey; JCC Camp Yachad, New Jersey; JCC Camp Z Frank Apachi, Illinois; Mid-Island Y JCC Camp, New York; Ramah Darom, Georgia; Ramah Day Camp, New York; and URJ Camp Harlam, Pennsylvania.