Crowdfunding campaign raises nearly $2 million for day schools

Associated Hebrew Schools Kamin Education Centre, on Atkinson Avenue. ASSOCIATED PHOTO

A 24-hour crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for nine Toronto day schools brought in $1.9 million, nearly doubling the $1-million goal organizers had set.

The online campaign, which ran from June 20 to 21, was spearheaded by Rabbi Seth Grauer, head of Bnei Akiva Schools.

Each participating school had to find three donors, or groups of donors, to match donations, meaning donations were actually quadrupled. If a school failed to meet a minimum threshold, the donations were to be returned, but every school far exceeded its goal.

According to the online platform Charidy, which hosted the campaign, 2,431 donors contributed, with the largest donation being $40,000. Donors could choose to contribute to an individual school, or to the entire campaign.

Associated Hebrew Schools raised $277,769, far surpassing its original goal of $36,000.


“It’s always better to exceed your goal than to fail to meet it,” said Mayeer Pearl, president of Associated’s board of directors. “We’re just blown away by the support.”

The funds will most likely be allocated to the school’s subsidy pool, he said.

Associated recently announced it is planning to sell its building in York Region, north of Toronto, and Pearl said there were initially concerns that the negative feelings about the decision would hurt the campaign, but they proved to be unfounded.

“Jewish education is a priority of the Toronto community,” he said. “The community wants to see the school succeed and go on.”

Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School raised $264,200. Head of school/menahel Rabbi Zvi Kamenetzky said he was proud that 98 per cent of the school’s parents participated in the campaign.

Leo Baeck is selling its branch on Atkinson Avenue in Thornhill. GOOGLE STREETVIEW PHOTO

“It comes to prove a point that leadership has to start involving everyone,” he said.

While every school will decide how to allocate the funds, Rabbi Kamenetzky said he expects that all the schools will put the money toward subsidies.

“The ability of parents to come up with tuition really was the key factor in spearheading this campaign. It wasn’t about extracurriculars or building buildings. It’s going to the costs of education … to making Jewish education available to as many families as possible,” he said.

Other participating schools were Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Leo Baeck, Bialik, Montessori Jewish Day School, Netivot HaTorah, Robbins Hebrew Academy and Bnei Akiva Schools.

The campaign comes at a time when the rising cost of day school education is a hot topic in Toronto. Day school tuition has risen by 60 per cent over the last decade, far outstripping the rise in incomes, according to reports produced by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

Three schools in York Region have announced that they are closing their campuses or selling their buildings due to declining enrolment.

Schools have also felt pressure to reduce or freeze tuition. The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, which is closing its northern branch this year, announced it received a $14 million donation, which will allow it to reduce tuition by one-third for the next five years. And Bnei Akiva Schools is allowing parents to cap their tuition at $20,000, if necessary, instead of paying the full tuition of $24,700 next year.