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As the enrollment level of boys surpasses that of girls for the inaugural summer at the URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) has made a $5,000 grant from its YES (Youth, Education, & Special Projects) Fund to provide scholarships for female campers.
The scholarships are meant to encourage and support the participation of girls in science and technology, which have traditionally been male-dominated fields. Each scholarship recipient will receive $500 toward registration at the camp this summer.
To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must be enrolled at the camp between March 1 and April 30, entering grades 5-9 in Fall 2014, and belong to a URJ congregation.
WRJ President Blair C. Marks, who works for a Fortune 500 company and knows firsthand the importance of gender parity in the growing fields of science and technology, said,
I was thrilled when my two worlds, my sci-tech career and my WRJ leadership, collided when WRJ voted to fund these scholarships. As my own experience has taught me, it is so important for girls to feel safe and welcomed into male-dominated professions and to see puzzle- and problem-solving not as insurmountable challenges but rather as opportunities. To me, these scholarships are consistent with WRJ's tradition of standing up for women and girls, and I am very proud that we have chosen to lead in this manner.
URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, like the URJ 6 Points Sports Academy started in 2010, offers a unique summer camp opportunity designed to meet the particular interests of youth under a Jewish lens. Lisa Jay of Montabello, NY, whose daughter Hannah loves math, science, and engineering, and recently applied for the WRJ scholarship, said,
Finding a camp that will meet my daughter's needs so perfectly is a blessing that I cannot begin to describe. We were always hoping to find a Jewish sleep away camp experience that would be appropriate for her interests, but never found one that came close until hearing about Sci-Tech. She is not one for new experiences, but she did not hesitate once we found this camp!
WRJ has a well-established relationship of support for and involvement with Jewish camping that goes back many decades. From 1952, when the Chicago-area sisterhoods helped found the first Union camp, URJ Olin Sang Ruby Institute (OSRUI), until the present day, individual sisterhoods, districts, and WRJ as a whole, have consistently supported the Reform Movement's camps.
The YES Fund, which is funding these scholarships, represents the collective financial efforts of individual donors and WRJ-affiliated sisterhoods to strengthen the Reform Movement and ensure the future of Reform Judaism. YES Fund grants from WRJ provide Reform Jewish institutions and individuals worldwide with the tools necessary for religious, social, and educational growth.