Friday, January 27, 2023 -
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Multi-million dollar lifeline for JCC

Lara Knuettel, l; Don Kortz

Lara Knuettel, l; Don Kortz

The Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center (JCC Denver) has announced that a coalition of donors will infuse millions of dollars into JCC Denver, providing critical funds to enable the organization to sustainably operate on a debt-free basis, make needed improvements to its infrastructure and strengthen its programs and services.

The historic funding agreement includes multimillion-dollar leadership gifts from Rose Community Foundation, Mizel Family Foundations, Michael Staenberg and the Sturm family, as well as significant support from other community donors.

The money will be used to purchase the JCC Denver campus, enabling the JCC Denver to repay its $14.3 million debt accumulated since the 1990s, put aside reserves for deferred maintenance needs and provide for a financially sustainable future.

For the most part, JCC Denver has incurred debt to cover capital expenditures and to manage necessary deferred maintenance repairs and upgrades for the JCC’s large campus, according to Lara Knuettel, CEO of JCC Denver.

Knuettel has been leading the organization’s turnaround since August, 2017.

The JCC assumed loans that have outweighed its ability to earn revenue or raise funds to keep pace with payments and interest.

“On behalf of our staff, outgoing board and membership, we are grateful for this unprecedented generosity and lifeline,” Knuettel said.

“This financial stabilization combined with new staff, a new board and renewed community engagement will propel the JCC Denver forward into a new era.”

The current JCC Denver board has agreed to step down and a new board will be installed, chaired by longtime community leader Don Kortz.

“I look forward to working with Lara and the highly qualified management team she has been building to ensure the JCC Denver continues to grow, thrive and serve even more community members with excellent programming for people of all ages,” Kortz said.

“We all agree the JCC Denver’s programs in early childhood education, family engagement, Jewish arts and culture, fitness and wellness, service to older adults and multi-generational community-building are essential to our community.”

Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, l; Jerry Glick

Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, l; Jerry Glick

The property will be held in a nonprofit subsidiary of Rose Community Foundation (RCF) solely for the exclusive and perpetual benefit of the JCC Denver. RCF’s nonprofit subsidiary, which will be chaired by RCF trustee Jerry Glick and comprised of volunteer real estate experts from the RCF board, will enter into a 100-year lease agreement with the JCC Denver for a nominal $1 a year to ensure that the JCC will survive and thrive for generations to come.

The new JCC Denver board will maintain responsibility for governance, operations and programs.

RCF also provided JCC Denver with a grant for a market study and business plan to support its ongoing sustainability. The market study revealed that the JCC’s eight program areas are competitive and have the potential to grow and enhance viability.

“While the JCC Denver serves the broader community as a whole, it has long been a vital heart of — and portal into — the Jewish community,” said RCF President and CEO Lindy Eichenbaum Lent.

“It is because of the JCC’s unique nature as a critical Jewish community asset that the Foundation is playing a role unlike any we have taken on before or will take on again. This new era of financial stabilization and leadership will unleash additional philanthropy from the community and allow the JCC Denver to continue expanding its diverse programming for the benefit of the community — from babies to older adults — for generations to come.”

The immediate focus of this effort is to restore financial health to the JCC. In the future, there may be capital endeavors needed to respond to the community’s growing needs for enhanced JCC programs and services.

This new arrangement will ensure that any future capital improvements are planned and undertaken with fiduciary responsibility. Any proceeds from future capital improvements or development activities will go directly to the JCC for the sole benefit of the JCC, Knuettel said.

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