The Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School received a $9 million grant from the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation that will help support tuition relief for the St. Louis Park-based school. The gift is the largest in the school’s 33-year history and will be made over a 10-year period.
The Redleaf Affordability & Endowment Building Challenge Grant primarily will support tuition relief, including the establishment of a tuition reduction grant for children of professionals working at Jewish non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities. A portion of the gift is designated as a “matching grant” to help launch the school’s upcoming endowment campaign.
“We hope that more families will consider Jewish day school for their primary education,” said Andrew Redleaf, founder and CEO of Whitebox Advisors, a Minneapolis hedge fund, in a statement released by the school. “We saw an opportunity to help remove financial obstacles to this kind of extraordinary education.”
Head of School Yoni Binus said that tuition tends to range from the high $15,000’s to the low $16,000’s, and that 40 percent of the students receive some form of financial assistance.
“We know that fears about affordability sometimes prevent parents, including Jewish community professionals, from looking at Heilicher in the first place. Through support from the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and a robust philanthropic giving program, we have been able to keep tuition relatively stable over the past few years,” Binus said. “This annual fundraising will continue to be critical to affordability.”
The Redleafs are the parents of two Heilicher alumni, and Lynne has been a board member since 2016.
“We believe a community day school is vital for developing the next generation of knowledgeable, thoughtful, and engaged community members,” said Lynne. “The school provides children a rigorous education combined with a strong sense of Jewish identity – in a caring community. Financial accessibility is an important piece of this mission, and we wanted to contribute to the financial stability of the school.”
Binus said that while the overall goal is to make Heilicher accessible to Jewish kids in the Twin Cities, the gift won’t result in across-the-board tuition cuts.
“This grant will help us build a tuition model that will provide on-ramps for families coming from a wide range of economic circumstances,” he said. “We don’t intend to lower tuition across the board, but rather use the best national models to address affordability for each individual family.”
Binus said that this is one of the larger gifts in the day-school world, although it’s not an apples-and-oranges comparison.
“It is very difficult to compare gifts, not only because of the differences in cities’ Jewish populations but because the purposes of gifts can vary significantly,” he said. “The Redleaf Affordability and Endowment Building Challenge Grant is specifically focused on helping us, with the support of the community, to grow an endowment for long-term sustainability and to consider models of affordability to increase opportunities for Jewish families.”