Helen Bader Foundation to Permanently Endow Jewish Day School Education over Next Decade
June 24, 2009 — The Helen Bader Foundation has announced that it will commit at least $10 million over the next decade to create a permanent endowment for the Helen Bader Scholarship Fund, which has helped low- and middle-income families with the cost of tuition at Milwaukee-area Jewish day schools for nearly 19 years. When mature, the endowment will be administered by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Inc., marking the largest single gift in the Foundation's history.
"Education is the linchpin of our community, and since the first day, the Helen Bader Foundation has sought to keep it a viable option for all families," said Daniel Bader, Foundation president. "The Foundation Board is making this gift to signal to the community that Jewish education is perhaps the strongest investment they can make today toward ensuring our collective future."
As the endowment is built, the Foundation will continue to fund scholarships on an annual basis. In recent years, the Scholarship Fund has provided $500,000 in funds annually to local families, for a total of more than $6.1 million in scholarships since 1993.
"A Jewish education is a gift we give our children, and this endowment will ensure that today's Scholarship beneficiaries can see their children and even their grandchildren attend those same day schools," said federation President Bruce A. Arbit. "The Helen Bader Foundation has once again demonstrated a commitment to building the long-term strength of this community, for families of all means."
Each summer, the Scholarships are awarded under the guidance of the Joint Day School Scholarship Committee of the Coalition for Jewish Learning, the education program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. This advisory body determines the levels of tuition assistance based on anonymous application criteria, including income, number of school-age children, and other life circumstances.
"For many families, the added support of the Scholarship means the difference in whether or not a family is able to send their children to a day school," Bader said.
To determine the greatest need, the federation works closely with the five schools that participate in the program: Hillel Academy, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Torah Academy of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study, and Yeshiva Elementary School of Milwaukee. That collaboration has attracted national attention to the Milwaukee area, with many Jewish communities seeking to replicate its approach toward sustaining Jewish education and building a vibrant Jewish culture.
"Among communities our size, Milwaukee is unsurpassed in its level of support for Jewish education," said Rick Meyer, federation executive vice president. "Maintaining that momentum is no small task, but we hope that other members of our community will be inspired to follow the Helen Bader Foundation's example of long-term commitment to Jewish day school education."
Bader said that the Scholarship's role in building a stronger Jewish community ties back to the ideals of the Foundation's namesake, the late Helen Bader, a businesswoman turned social worker.
"Every year, we see the impact of the Scholarships at the student and family level, but it's really much broader than that," he said. "The spirit of this community is epitomized by day school students who strengthen their faith and go on in life to help others. I'm pleased that my mother's legacy will continue to make that a reality."
About the Foundation: The Helen Bader Foundation, Inc. strives to be a philanthropic leader in improving the quality of life of the diverse communities in which it works. The Foundation makes grants, convenes partners, and shares knowledge to affect emerging issues in key areas, awarding more than $179 million in grants and $10 million in Program Related Investments since it was established in 1991.