The Yashar Initiative
Accessibility Capital Grants
A new $12 million initiative generously funded by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities at Jewish summer day and overnight camps.
According to a 2013 Foundation for Jewish Camp Survey, camp professionals highlighted two areas, among others, in which they required support to better serve children with disabilities: their need for funding for capital improvements to increase accessibility, and training for staff. This initiative provides day and overnight camps with essential support in both of these areas, and will also provide funding for professional development, staff training, research, and evaluation. We hope this support will significantly increase the number of campers and staff with disabilities who are able to participate in Jewish camp.
Over the next three years, there will be a series of open application periods for camps to submit applications.
How much capital grant funding is available to my camp?
Capital grants through this initiative may range from $25,000 to $300,000. However, the initiative will fund no more than 30% of a capital project.
Camps must have 25% of the project budget raised or committed by the time of application to be considered for the grant.
What other funding (beyond capital) will my camp receive through the initiative?
Participating camps will also receive a program grant between $20,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the camp. This funding will be paid out in two payments and will cover costs for the following:
- To support high-quality inclusion training at camp both during staff week and ongoing
- To participate in FJC’s Satisfaction Insight surveys for both campers and staff
- To support costs associated with raising the additional capital fundraising that is required to support the capital projects
What types of capital projects are included?
Projects funded through this initiative will support individuals with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and physical and sensory disabilities. Here are a few examples of capital projects:
- Increasing asphalt/paving to expand accessible areas to campers with disabilities;
- Building or renovating bunks to serve campers with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair accommodations, ramps, grab bars, lighting, HVAC installation, etc.);
- Installing “zero-entry” systems, or other mechanisms, to make swimming pools accessible in a dignified manner;
- Developing sensory gardens or quiet rooms to enhance services of campers with disabilities;
- Enhancing accessibility for campers with disabilities as part of construction or renovation of communal buildings, such as dining halls or infirmaries*; and
- Building medical stands in critical locations around camp (such as by pools/lakes/etc.).
This list is meant to be neither exhaustive nor prohibitive. Please consult with FJC if you have a project you want considered.
* In cases where projects involve enhancing accessibility of communal buildings, the Foundation will fund no more than 30% of the portion of the budget related to accessibility, not the entire project budget.
Is my camp eligible?
- The grant is open to Jewish day and overnight camps that meet FJC’s network camp criteria
- Camps must be a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status
- Camp must have been in operation for at least three summers
- Camps must serve a minimum of 200 campers each summer
- Camps must be welcoming and accommodating of all children regardless of affiliation, denomination, or religious background
- Camps must currently be accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)
- Camps must commit to achieving a target inclusion rate of 5% within three years (i.e., at least 5% of the camper population will be campers with disabilities)
- Camps must be located in the United States
What else is required to be part of the initiative?
- Commitment to achieving a target inclusion rate of 5% within three years, including providing recruitment plans
- Participate in FJC trainings, workshops and webinars that will be provided as part of the initiative
- Participate in both CSI and SSI (Camps are responsible for payment. Yashar program grant can be used to cover these expenses.)
- Acknowledgement of both FJC and the Weinberg Foundation
Can my camp apply for multiple grants and/or phases of a project?
Camps may apply for multiple projects through this initiative, as long as these projects are separate and distinct. To apply for funding for another project, a camp must submit its evaluation report certifying completion of the previous project. The initiative will not fund multiple phases of the same project (e.g., two applications regarding separate floors of the same building).
How does this initiative define disabilities?
This grant is intended to increase access for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities and individuals with physical and sensory disabilities.
What are the inclusion enrollment requirements?
Grants may be made either to camps that currently have, or are committed to building, a significant inclusion program, or to those where the overwhelming majority of campers are children with disabilities. To be considered for funding through this initiative, camps must commit to achieving a target inclusion rate of 5% within three years of the initial grant payment (i.e., at least 5% of the camper population will be campers with disabilities).
What will this initiative not fund?
- Scholarships for children to attend camp. It is important to mention that a large range of scholarships are available to low-income families through various funding sources across the United States, and we would like to promote the availability of scholarship resources as one of the broader messages of inclusivity as part of this project;
- General operating support for summer camps; and
- Programming at camps, outside of a one-time grant focused on staff training, CSI/SSI and fundraising capacity to meet the capital grant challenge requirements.
- This is an apolitical initiative focused on direct services, and projects funded through the initiative may not be used as part of an advocacy or policy effort.
What is the application process and timeline?
Applications will open in early December. Camps will have approximately six weeks to complete them. Applicants will be notified in March. Please check back for a more detailed timeline.