The high cost of Jewish living in Los Angeles and especially the ever-increasing cost of Jewish high school tuitions have been of serious concern to parents and leaders in the Jewish community. BJE leveraged its relationships and knowledge of the Los Angeles Jewish day school landscape and convened school and communal stakeholders to build a model to address the issue of affordability in the present. Simultaneously, BJE planned for the future of day school education through a focus on school capacity building and sustainability. Continue on to learn more about how the model was built and the process and progress of implementation to date.
> DEFINING AFFORDABILITY
In order to begin building the LAHSAI model, it was important to define what it meant to be a Jewish, middle-income family living in Los Angeles. We began by using research from the California Budget Project report of 2007 to determine the cost of living in Los Angeles for a family of four with two working parents. Expenses such as housing and utilities costs, child care, transportation, food, health care and taxes were included in the study. The following table shows a comparison between the 2007 and 2013 cost of living in Los Angeles data:
Then, we considered the additional costs associated with living a “Jewishly-engaged” life, including tuition for two children in high school, the cost of kosher food, synagogue membership, summer camp or Israel trips, property taxes and home values in certain predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, as well as college savings, life insurance premiums, and income tax based on the 33% tax bracket. The following table shows a comparison between 2007 and 2013 estimated Jewish cost of living:
With this information, we determined that a family with two children in high school would have to be making over $300,000 gross adjusted income in order to comfortably afford to pay full tuition at one of the five participating high schools. With the financial aid “ceiling” in most schools at $150k, an entire swath of the community, which is now defined as middle-income, was priced out of a Jewish high school education for their children.
We began to educate school and community leadership in thinking critically about how to re-engage this large and important demographic in our community—by addressing accessibility and affordability and limiting the financial constraints that so often prevent a Jewish family from choosing a Jewish high school.
> LAHSAI MODEL & DESCRIPTIONThe LAHSAI was created using a theory of change model that defines the unique challenges of the Los Angeles Jewish community, recommended inputs (structure of the grant support), key strategies for achieving program goals, targeted constituencies (schools and middle-income families), a program timeline with benchmarks and interim goals, the desired outcome of the program and the anticipated long-term effects from the initiative.
Click to read directly about Underlying Assumptions, Stakeholder Groups, or Model Components, which include 1) financial incentives and structure for change 2) scaffolding for implementation 3) schools raising endowment funds and 4) increasing and diversifying enrollment.
> FINANCIAL MODEL