July 21, 2011
The little school that could
When Chase Community Giving posted the question, “What would you do if you won $500,000?” on its Facebook page during fall 2009, Conejo Jewish Day School was among the many organizations that submitted a dream plan.
Michael Miller, the school’s board president, explained that when signing up for the campaign — with a program that would address the hot-button topic of bullying — they “never imagined that a little school of just under 100 kids in Thousand Oaks would finish in the top 25 out of thousands of entries.”
Chase bank established the Chase Community Giving fund in order to provide small organizations and nonprofits with resources otherwise unavailable to them. “Those organizations sometimes have amazing ideas, but they have such a small operating budget that they can’t really go out and get results,” said Gary Kishner, Chase media relations representative. “We really just wanted to make their and our dreams possible.”
In this contest alone, Chase gave away a total of $5 million to 100 participating charities and organizations.
As word spread about the school’s participation in the contest, hundreds of supporters emerged and voiced their support of the Jewish school on Facebook. “The parents, teachers and the Chabad of Agoura Hills and Conejo Valley banded together and worked very diligently to get as many ‘likes’ as possible,” Miller said.
After two rounds of competition against thousands of organizations throughout the world, Conejo Jewish Day School won sixth place and a grant of $125,000 with 11,731 votes. The school intends to dedicate the grant toward an anti-bullying program in which its staff and students will become ambassadors to all of the Conejo Valley — and perhaps beyond — and interact with other students to discuss this issue of great concern.
“It’s one thing to hear from an adult, but another thing for kids to hear from other kids,” Miller said. “It’s much broader than just dealing with our school and our student body; we plan to offer this program to any school or organization that wants it.”