JCC capital projects

Reimagining the JCC: Our Master Plan 

Nurturing People, Living Values,
Strengthening Community

The JCC is the most visible, diverse and utilized organization under Jewish auspices in our region—serving people from all walks of life seven days a week, nearly 365 days a year.

At our core, we embrace the potential of people and community to grow and prosper. We are an enterprise in constant motion, evolving from generations past and changing each day with the future in mind.
We have experienced an unprecedented level of growth and scope of operations. We recorded 1.3 million visits in 2016—three times the number 30 years ago— representing members, guests, clients and community partners from all backgrounds, lifestyles, ages, incomes and abilities. We are far more than a membership organization, with more than 200 active partnerships in place and scores of activities open to the public at large.

Our facilities are our stage—the physical platform where we nurture people, live our values and strengthen community. They were constructed in a different era, when the JCC served fewer people and the needs of our stakeholders were less complex. As our vision and operations progress, we want our facilities to:

1) Embrace community needs at our current scale and future aspirations

2) Foster excellence in how we serve people each day

3) Support new opportunities to deliver services and build comparative advantage, and

4) Address complex realities of today’s regulatory and security environment

Please contact us using the form below or at 412-697-3510 with any questions about making a capital gift today.

capital projects and needs

family park, monroeville:
a 21st century transformation

family park, monroeville: a 21st century transformation

Our day camp tradition began at the 100-acre Monroeville Family Park, an irreplaceable asset that positively impacts the physical, social and emotional development of children. The Family Park facility provides a secure environment to foster self discovery and a connection to nature. Facility improvements would allow increased sports and recreation specialties and enhance one of Pittsburgh’s largest outdoor aquatic centers. This project incorporates the goal of creating a carbon-neutral footprint through our organic farm and energy sustainability projects to make a living laboratory for children to learn how to safeguard the earth.

Expected Outcomes:

• Improving facility for program excellence

• Increasing capacity of day camp through specialization
differentiated by age group

• Maximizing the environmental character of the facility

• Creating a carbon-neutral campus

reducing our carbon footprint

reducing our carbon footprint

Accelerated infrastructure replacement is good for our environment, good for our constituents, and allows us to
spend more resources serving people than paying energy bills. This strategy continues energy efficiency infrastructure projects at all five JCC facilities—from lighting to heating/cooling systems to hot water heaters
to roofing to many small projects that will help us further reduce our carbon footprint. Projects we have already implemented have reduced energy consumption by up to 15% while freeing up program space by almost 15,000
square feet. The JCC has identified an additional 20 projects, large and small, that are estimated to decrease energy consumption by up to an additional 15% if fully implemented. Energy consumption could be reduced even further if the Monroeville Family Park is converted to a carbon-neutral facility.

Expected Outcomes:

• Contributing to the Pittsburgh region’s energy reduction and green initiatives effort

• Achieving projected reduction of electric and gas usage agency-wide

• Utilizing anticipated energy savings to help fund agency scholarship program

emma kaufmann camp:
fostering comparative advantage

emma kaufmann camp: fostering comparative advantage
at our overnight camp

Emma Kaufmann: The Legacy
Since its founding more than 113 years ago as an escape for Jewish children from urban overcrowding, pollution and the tuberculosis epidemic, the JCC’s Emma Kaufmann Camp (EKC) has served as a haven to over 650 campers and staff each summer. To this day, as EKC celebrates its 50th year on Cheat Lake, EKC is that special place where each camper and staff member experiences the life-changing transformation that only Jewish overnight summer camp can provide. EKC is built on connections, values, growth and fun—you see it in the faces of campers and staff.

While over half our campers reside in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area, we now serve campers from 35 states and 7 countries around the world, nurtured by an ever-expanding EKC parent and alumni base from nearly every corner of the planet. Camp is about growth, self-discovery, relationships, and values. EKC leadership and staff understand how to support campers so that they can overcome barriers, journey beyond their personal comfort zones and become the best version of themselves.

EKC strives to help each camper and staff member become part of a welcoming community that builds self confidence, fosters independence and creates lifelong friendships. The entire EKC experience, curated through
a Jewish lens, fosters community for campers and staff, and celebrates each individual’s uniqueness. The camper experience has been enhanced each summer since 2006 through an Israel seminar and leadership experience for staff-in- training (SIT) that has served 548 EKC’ers over 15 summers.

Studies demonstrate that Jewish overnight camping is one of the strongest ways to keep children and teens invested in Judaism. EKC leadership strives to integrate these important considerations by creating aspirational arcs in skill building and programming that challenges and inspires each camper. We believe that the lynchpin of successful overnight camps is fostering high-quality programming and specialties to stimulate new experiences, new skills and new proficiencies.

Sustaining the Future of the Camp
Prior to the pandemic, EKC had launched initiatives to build a brighter future at camp by increasing camper recruitment and retention, improving camper/ parent satisfaction, supporting camper care and inclusion, and making strategic capital investments at our facility. These efforts have been largely funded through private donations over the past decade.
Major capital projects completed and totaling more than $8 million include:

• Dining Hall expansion and renovation

• Upgraded camper housing for the Sabra, Kinneret, and Halutzim Units

• ADA accessibility within living areas, restrooms and dining halls

• Zen Den, a sensory space to foster inclusion that is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any camper or staff member. The Zen Den is appropriate for individuals with invisible disabilities such as ADHD, autism
and anxiety disorders, as well as neurotypical individuals.

• SIT and retreat housing at Beit Chosky, with new specialty training kitchen and dance/exercise studio added to the lower level

• Wolf Family Aquatics Center

• Security improvements at the front gate and throughout camp

• Renovation of the outdoor amphitheater

• Renovation of staff lounge and new staff housing unit

• Upgraded staff fitness center

• New office and welcome center

• New outdoor covered pavilions

• New steps to lakefront and new boat dock area

Enhancing the EKC Experience
As our safe and successful summer 2021 draws to a close, we are excited to focus on several initiatives to elevate our programming and benefit the EKC experience for years to come.

EKC is a Lake Camp—Let’s keep investing in it.

It is our 50th year on Cheat Lake, a beautiful 1,730-acre reservoir with calm and shady waters for swimming and water sports. Cheat Lake is an integral part of the EKC experience, and it’s what makes our camp so special. By upgrading our waterskiing program with the addition of two boats and new ski equipment and employing highly qualified staff to lead the program, we believe that we can elevate our lake programming and support the sustainability of camp for future generations. This investment will include inclusivity improvements as well.

Creating an accessible ski experience for every camper, regardless of physical ability, is important to us. Adaptive
water-ski equipment offers a unique opportunity for individuals with mobility, visual, or other impairments to experience the joys and benefits of water sports.

Upper Camp Experience—Racquet Sports

Our sports courts are in critical need of renovation and their restoration will augment our experience adjacent to the Wolf Family Aquatics Center, upper ballfields and horse stables. Tennis and racquet sports bring an enhanced level of learning, fun and skill development both on and off the court—no matter the prior experience of any EKC camper. Our racquet sports will be rejuvenated as we bring in a tennis pro for the summer for skills development and training.

How You Can Help Invest in the Future of EKC Camping
Please support our special fundraising drive this year with a donation or sponsorship as we continue to sustain and build the future of camp. Our goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000 to complete these two projects in time for Summer 2022.

The campaign will culminate in a gathering for EKC parents, alumni, and special friends at a time and place to be determined when we are at a less restricted time following the latest Covid wave. Beyond next summer, we have ambitious dreams of a reimagined cove and beachfront area at the lake. We are already in communication with the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the physical integrity of Cheat Lake.

Your ongoing support will help ensure the future of this invaluable community asset, and together we can take the next steps to ensure the future of EKC.

Give today at donate.jccpgh.org/gamesetsplaash

Please join us!


Dana aand Michael Laidhold

Liz Goldberg and Michael Weisberg

Lauren and Jason Kushner

Noah and Maria Jordan

Beth Goldstein and Jeremy Goldman, Campaign Chairs

Aaron Cantor, EKC Director

Give today at donate.jccpgh.org/gamesetsplaash

Please join us!


Dana and Michael Laidhold

Liz Goldberg and Michael Weisberg

Lauren and Jason Kushner

Noah and Maria Jordan

Beth Goldstein and Jeremy Goldman, Campaign Chairs

Aaron Cantor, EKC Director

completing the journey from fitness to wellness

completing the journey from fitness to wellness


Conceived after experiencing a 25% surge of usage in JCC fitness facilities over the past decade, this project will take our commitment to our constituents’ physical and spiritual well-being to the year 2023 and beyond. The expansion of fitness and wellness zones in Squirrel Hill and South Hills will add more adaptable and versatile equipment, expand youth wellness opportunities, enhance space for nationally recognized evidenced-based programs for adults of various life stages, and incorporate the potential expansion of rehabilitation and other health services.

Expected Outcomes:

• Reinvigorating a best-practice wellness facility for all ages and abilities

• Integrating emerging technologies to support holistic health

• Growing wellness impact for targeted populations (youth, older adults, etc.)

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