The Bronfman Fellowship 2017 Annual Campaign Q&A

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Q: The Fellowship never used to fundraise.  What has changed?

A: A lot!  Over the past 30 years, Edgar Bronfman and his philanthropy invested over $25M in the Fellowship.  After Edgar passed away in 2013, his foundation (The Samuel Bronfman Foundation) generously contributes $1.5M a year to the Fellowship. Their generosity covers most of our expenses, but not all. The annual campaign’s goal of $125K helps supplement the difference between our operating budget and the Foundation’s anchor grant.

Q: Is the Fellowship trip still free for participants?

A: The Fellowship operates with a negligible tuition obligation from participants.  One of our guiding principles is that the Fellowship should be merit-based and need-blind.  This helps us ensure a pluralistic, talented, and economically diverse learning community.  

Q: Is Edgar Bronfman’s family still involved in the Fellowship?

A: Yes!  Adam Bronfman, Edgar’s son, is the president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, and has expressed his heartfelt support of the Fellowship:

“Since its humble origins as a summer trip to Israel, dedicated alumni have enriched this program to encompass a lifelong experience that exceeds what my father and I imagined. . . . The Bronfman Fellowship was, and continues to be, our most valued project.  As President of the Foundation, I am deeply committed to the perpetuity of the Fellowship.”

- Adam Bronfman, in a 2016 email

Q: Who funds the Israeli program (Amitei Bronfman)?

A: Amitei Bronfman is a part of The Bronfman Fellowship, and the Samuel Bronfman Foundation’s generous $1.5M grant is used for the operating budgets of both the American and Israeli programs.

Q: I did the program years ago. Is it the same program today as it was in the 1980s and 1990s?

A: Although The Bronfman Fellowship began as a study and travel summer program for a limited number of American students entering their senior year in high school, it has evolved over time to encompass four components, including over 100 days of immersive seminars:

  1. An American fellowship of 26 high school students that spends five weeks over the summer in Israel, followed by two multi-day seminars in the United States.
  2. An Israeli fellowship of 20 students that includes eight seminars in Israel and a two-week trip to the United States.
  3. Joint learning programs between the American and Israeli fellowship cohorts during the American seminar in Israel and the Israeli seminar in the United States.
  4. Alumni community experiences including an annual weekend seminar for all college-age alumni; a unique Israeli-American peer-to-peer grant-making circle called the Alumni Venture Fund (AVF); in-person and virtual learning seminars; lifelong mentoring; and access to a vibrant network of 1100+ alumni.

While the Fellowship has evolved in significant ways, the heart of the Bronfman experience remains the same as it was when Edgar Bronfman founded it in 1987. It is steadfast in the belief that true pluralism is predicated on honest discourse and respectful relationships, even across potentially polarizing fault lines. Though Jews might practice their Judaism differently, learning can bring them together for a deeper exchange. The Bronfman Fellowship remains focused on providing both a context and a catalyst for fellows to study Jewish texts, traditions, history, and culture through a carefully designed curriculum that is intellectually challenging and existentially engaging.

Q: Why does the Fellowship’s budget exceed the grant from The Samuel Bronfman Foundation?

A: We are committed first and foremost to excellence, and remain steadfast in our belief that no costs should be cut that would adversely affect the quality of our programming. The Bronfman Fellowship is a lean operation given the scope and depth of our work. We believe in a personalized approach in which each Fellow matters and feels known.  This focus on the individual is central to the Fellowship, which maintains that investing in people leads to an outsized impact on the world. 

Q: What is the annual campaign goal?

A: In 2017, our goal is to raise at least $125,000.  This amount fills the gap between The Samuel Bronfman Foundation’s generous grant and our operating budget.

Q: What are the funds raised by the annual campaign used for?

A: The funds raised are used for virtually everything that touches our community of Fellows and alumni.  Here are just a few examples of what the money helps support:   

·         Immersive seminars for alumni.

·         Virtual learning programs.

·         Need-based travel subsidies.

·         Mentorship and networking for Fellows and alumni.

·         Top educators and highly sought-after speakers to meet with Fellows.

·         Developing the curriculum for the summer fellowship.

Q: Can you break down the Fellowship's budget for me?

Q: Is the Fellowship a non-profit organization? Are gifts tax-deductible?

A: Yes, the Fellowship is a non-profit 501(c)(3) private operating foundation in the United States, and gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Q: Is my donation eligible for employer matching?

A: Yes, many employers will match donations to 501(c)(3) private operating foundations. However, you’ll need to check with your employer.

Q. How much should I donate?

A. That’s completely up to you. All gifts are welcome, and we hope that you’ll make a personally meaningful contribution that fits with your capacity and connection to the Fellowship. We believe in pluralism and diversity – this extends to our approach to fundraising and our efforts to remain an economically inclusive program and community.

Q:  How can I make a donation?

A: You can visit our website at Bronfman.org/donate or mail a check, made payable to The Bronfman Fellowship, to:

The Bronfman Fellowship

418 Broadway, 2nd Floor

Albany, NY 12207

Q: Are you still accepting donations specifically for the Alumni Venture Fund (AVF)?

A: Yes, we are. However, we encourage donors to contribute primarily to the annual campaign, as this gives the Fellowship the ability to use the funds where they’re needed most.  The AVF remains a core program of our alumni initiatives, and receives support through the annual campaign as well as through designated gifts.  Click here to donate to the AVF.

Q: Why should I make my donation recurring?

A: Recurring gifts provide reliable support for the Bronfman Fellowship and help lower administrative costs; that means more of your contribution goes into the programming and engagement you value.

Q: How can I get involved as a volunteer?

A: There are many ways to get involved!  For example, you can:

•           Host a local gathering.

•           Write a dvar torah or contribute to What We’re Learning.

•           Help with recruitment and let us know if you’d like to read applications

•           Serve on the Alumni Advisory Board or assist us with Alumni Venture Fund grant-making deliberations.

For more ideas or to discuss getting involved, please contact Aaron Steinberg at aaron@byfi.org.

Q: How many alumni donated to the Fellowship last year (2016)?

A: In 2016, a remarkable 36% (or 281) of alumni made gifts of all sizes to the Fellowship, helping us raise $125,000.  We are truly thankful for and amazed by the generosity of Bronfmanim.

 

To make a gift today, visit www.Bronfman.org/Donate.