Opening the Doors: Federation’s Model Jewish Educational Program Wins National Recognition

November 4, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Opening the Doors, the special education program of Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education, has been named one of 18 leading Jewish organizations committed to fostering inclusion of people with disabilities in the new Disabilities and Inclusion Supplement to the 2013-2014 Slingshot Guide.  

In the world of nonprofits, Slingshot is well recognized as a peer-giving network and prominent funding source in Jewish life. An endorsement in the annual Slingshot Guide is considered a benchmark – “a closely watched seal of approval” from a leading voice advocating for funding innovation.Slingshot supplement Organizations included in this year’s disability supplement were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector and their effectiveness at achieving results.

Selected from among hundreds of finalists reviewed by 83 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life, Opening the Doors impressed evaluators with its range of services that provide access to Jewish education to children with disabilities.  As one evaluator observed, “Opening the Doors is leading the way to raise awareness in the community and to shape the conversation about disability issues in the Detroit area.”

Opening New Opportunities

“We are honored and proud to be among the 18 organizations meeting the high standards to be included in the Disabilities and Inclusion Supplement to the 2013-2014 Slingshot Guide,”   stated Ellen Maiseloff, Associate Director of Opening the Doors Program. “The organizations recognized by Slingshot this year are helping to break down barriers and build opportunity for empowerment and engagement for those with diverse abilities – both within and beyond the Jewish community.

Commenting on opportunities for further outreach, Jeffrey Lasday, Director of Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education stated, “With the national endorsement, we hope to build awareness as well as support for continuing our work, and searching for innovative solutions to respond to the growing needs of students, not only in our own community, but nationwide.”

About Opening the Doors

Since 1995, Federation’s Opening the Doors (OTD) Partnership Program has collaborated with Jewish religious schools and day schools to support students with learning, behavioral and social challenges and to ensure that they receive a meaningful Jewish education along with their peers. Responding to critical needs in the community, the program has increased 400% since its inception and now provides a wide range of services to 1,080 students annually in 26 early childhood programs and Jewish congregational and day schools at no additional cost to parents. Beyond the school setting, Opening the Doors provides a wide range of opportunities for professional development, seminars and events aimed at building disability awareness and advocacy throughout the community.

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