B’nai B’rith Camp One of Five West Coast Camps Selected as “Yashar” Grant Recipients to Increase Accessibility for Campers and Staff with Disabilities.

In an unprecedented national push for inclusion, 16 Jewish day and overnight camps have received grants through the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) in the first phase of the $12M Yashar Initiative. Funded by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, this innovative grant enables Jewish day and overnight camps to make important capital improvements to increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities. This first cohort has been granted a combined $2.5 M to implement exciting upgrades — such as physical renovations to facilities, building sensory rooms and ADA compliant playgrounds — as well as critical funding for professional development, staff training, research, and evaluation.

Among the first recipients of funding are 5 camps located on the West Coast; B’nai B’rith Camp (BB Camp) in Lincoln City, Oregon, JCC Camp Keff in Foster City, CA, Camp Ramah in California in Ojai, CA, Camp Tawonga in San Francisco, CA, and Camp Solomon Schechter in Olympia, Washington. Each of the 16 camps were carefully selected for their commitment to expanding accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities, providing even more people with the opportunity to experience Jewish camp.

According to research conducted by FJC, attending Jewish camp can have a crucial impact on life-long Jewish identity and involvement.  A lack of accessibility and inclusion, however, has long been a barrier to the participation of campers and staff with disabilities. In keeping with the goals of the initiative to promote a greater culture of inclusion, each grant recipient has committed to increasing their total campers with disabilities to at least five percent of the total camper population.

B’nai B’rith Camp’s planned capital improvements include construction on three ADA accessible two-story double cabins. The new bunks will have wheelchair accessible pathways, including bridges instead of staircases to each structure’s upper level, to accommodate 16 campers and 3 counselors per cabin, 32 campers and 6 counselors per structure. The $320,000 grant from the Yashar Initiative brings BB Camp over $10.5 million raised toward our $13 million Second Century Capital Campaign. Past support includes a $368,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and grants from the Ford Family Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, and the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. These grants, and the generous support of more than 100 donors, inches B’nai B’rith Camp closer to their goal of building a brand new camp for the next century by the time the Camp celebrates their 100th Anniversary in 2021.

Michelle Koplan, executive director, shared, “BB Camp is proud to accept this meaningful award, which will greatly assist us in better serving our community, as we continue to ensure inclusion and accessibility for all.”

By participating in this first phase of the Yashar Initiative, BB Camp is helping set an example for the entire field, paving the way for a process of national substantive change regarding inclusion in camps across the country.

“Our grantees, all of whom had begun the process for broader inclusion independently, will now be able to complete their visions for improving the accessibility of their camps,” says Rebecca Kahn, Director of Field Expansion at FJC. “They will lead the way in modeling accessibility and inclusion at Jewish camp and inspire other Jewish communal institutions to evaluate how they can better welcome Jewish people with disabilities.”

The Yashar Initiative will open again for applications this fall, and again in the fall of 2020.

About B’nai B’rith Camp: 

B’nai B’rith Camp, located on a lakeside campus on the scenic Oregon coast, is a premier Jewish camp and conference center in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1921, B.B. Camp has been dedicated to providing the finest Jewish summer overnight camp experience for today’s campers while preparing them to be tomorrow’s community leaders. Since 2006, B.B. Camp has been serving the local community with our day camp program. In addition to our summer camp programs, we provide a wide range of year-round youth, family, and community engagement programs, as well as rent our facility for conferences, retreats, and special events which build friendships for life. B’nai B’rith Camp is open to everyone. B’nai B’rith Camp is licensed by the State of Oregon, accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), a member of the JCC Association, and an affiliate of JCamp 180, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. www.bbcamp.org

About Foundation for Jewish Camp: ​Jewish camp has proven to be a highly effective vehicle for engaging children, teens, young adults and families in Jewish life. Founded in 1998, Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is committed to bolstering excellence throughout the Jewish camp field and amplifying their success and impact by catalyzing innovation. Foundation for Jewish Camp works with over 300 day and overnight camps, serving approximately 180,000 campers and counselors across North America, providing professional development opportunities for camp leaders, expanding access to and demand for Jewish camp, enhancing camp’s Jewish impact, leading the field in staff and camper care, and developing programs to strengthen camps across the Jewish spectrum — including its signature One Happy Camper® program, which has enabled tens of thousands of young people to experience Jewish camp for the first time. For more information, please visit www.jewishcamp.org.


About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation: The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the 50 largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of vulnerable people and families experiencing poverty. In 2019, the Foundation will provide approximately $125 million in grants to nonprofits that provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. The Foundation’s priority communities include Baltimore, Chicago, Hawaii, Israel, New York City, Northeastern Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Rural Communities (primarily surrounding other priority communities). The Foundation’s trustees include Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Board Chair; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); Paula B. Pretlow; and Gordon Berlin. Rachel Garbow Monroe serves as President and CEO. For more information, please visit www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

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