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Bernie newBy BERNIE BELLAN

For as long as I’ve been editing The Jewish Post & News, I’ve maintained an abiding interest in the report of the Jewish Federation’s allocations committee each year.

Normally we would have received that report long before now, but apparently the member agencies of the Jewish Federation had all been advised how much each of them would be allocated by the Federation quite some time before the report was actually made available to us this past week, so simply because we weren’t in the loop doesn’t mean that the agencies which really look forward to the allocations committee report were also kept in the dark. That is important because it’s not easy to plan ahead without knowing how much money you’re going to be receiving from the Federation.

As our report elsehwere on this website shows, there has been somewhat of an increase in the amounts to be allocated to most of the 12 agencies that receive funding from the Federation. What I’ve always liked to do though is examine trends from one year to the next by looking at past allocation committee reports going back several years.
As the table which you can find at http://jewishpostandnews.ca/local/2636-successful-cja-campaign-translates-into-higher-grants-to-most-federation-beneficiaries, which I’ve created (using tables that have appeared in previous editions of this paper) shows, there are no radical changes to funding for any of the agencies, save for the kosher meals on wheels program, which is based out of the Gwen Secter Centre. It’s no surprise that program has been receiving less funding each year, given the decreased demand for kosher meals on wheels, although the actual costs of providing those meals has skyrocketed with the huge increase in the cost of kosher meat. One can only surmise, therefore, that the number of individuals requesting kosher meals on wheels has plummeted in recent years.

But, at the other end of the age spectrum – from seniors receiving kosher meals on wheels to funding for Gray Academy (and it’s not “the” Gray Academy, as I had always referred to that school in the past, I’ve been told), I wonder whether due consideration was given by the allocations committee to the pronounced drop in enrolment at that school over the past six years – from 625 to 466: a 25% decline. How is it, I wonder, that despite that decrease in enrolment, Gray Academy was given an increase in allocation of $13,000?
While I realize that Gray Academy faces increased costs each year - so do all the other beneficiary agencies of the Jewish Federation. As well, because tuition revenue goes down when there are fewer students, as does the level of funding from the provincial government, Gray Academy has been finding itself in an increasingly difficult situation each year as enrolment continues to decline. Still, the allocations committee each year has been giving more money to Gray Academy - not less. Why is that, I wonder?
I’ve made this point before: By and large, newcomers to Winnipeg’s Jewish community are not interested in sending their children to Gray Academy; however, many of those same newcomer families do want to send their children to one of the two sleep-over camps we have: BB Camp and Camp Massad. Both those camps requested fairly substantial increases in their allocations, but were actually given fairly insignificant increases.
 
The Jewish Federation has just completed a long process of planning for the future. If serious consideration is to be given to funding those programs that are of prime interest to the new members of our community, then both BB Camp and Camp Massad should play more prominent roles – and should be receiving greater funding.


As well, the Rady JCC has become the prime tool for integrating new members into  our Jewish community. While the Rady JCC  undoubtedly has the best funding mechanism in place of all the Federation’s member agencies - and is hardly lacking for money, it is also the most innovative organization we have in our community. With its outreach programs for recent immigrants to Winnipeg and the many newcomers on staff there, the Rady JCC has the ability to bring people “into the fold” so to speak, more than any other organization in our community. Since the Rady JCC seems quite capable of producing programs that appeal to newcomers without having to ask the Federation for additional funding for those programs, and since it hasn’t been asking the Federation for large increases in funding each year, it is perhaps a moot point whether the allocations committee should be giving more funding to the Rady JCC. But, if the planners in our community are looking for ways to strengthen our community, they ought to look longer at those agencies that are succeeding at integrating newcomers into the Jewish community, not ones that are having difficulty doing that.

As for Gray Academy, I’ve written before about how top heavy it is with administrative staff, but that particular institution does have some very significant support from among some key members of our community, which seems to be why it continues to receive increases in funding no matter how many more students it continues to lose each year. I know saying that doesn’t make me popular in certain circles, but eventually – if the drops in enrolment at that school continue, as they have for six consecutive years now, even the staunchest defenders of Gray Academy might  finally be willing  to give consideration to implementing some long overdue reductions in administrative personnel at that school.

Here is a chart showing results for the CJA campaigns in each of the past seven years, along with a chart showing allocations for Gray Academy during the same period:

CJA