PHOTO: Increasing the number of Israel-related programs (such as this Yom Ha’atzmaut event) and expanding the offerings for families with young children are two of the goals of the MJCC’s new strategic plan.
By Steve Albert
For more than a century, the J has been a place for the community to meet, greet, sweat and eat.
At its January meeting, the board of directors of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center approved an exciting, ambitious, new strategic plan for the center. With our new strategic plan, we will repurpose spaces, expand our programming, enhance our collaborative offerings and reach a broader scope of Oregonians. Already, we have added a Counselor In Training program to our day camp, hosted our first cultural program in Corvallis, expanded our Business Breakfast Series with a partnership with Portland State University, grown our Stingrays Swim Team, and expanded the reach and scope of our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration.
The strategic planning process spanned nearly a year and a half, and the discussions involved numerous members of the board, staff, MJCC and broader community. The board worked with David Posner, a strategic visioning consultant with the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, who advised the entire process.
The board began by crafting a revised mission statement and a new vision statement. Next, the board identified six areas of focus: Arts and Culture Programming, Programs for Children and Young Families, Community Engagement, Building Utilization, Financial Sustainability and Development. Task forces were created to explore each area, with each co-chaired by a member of the board and a member of the staff. Each task force gathered data through surveys, research and consultants. In addition, the groups solicited input from various stakeholders in the community. Ultimately, each crafted an overall objective, a set of strategies and a series of tactics for achieving each strategy.
The first three sections of the strategic plan focus primarily on program areas. One important strategy in the Arts and Culture Programs section is to focus on program areas not being fully served elsewhere. This might be addressed by increasing the number of programs of certain types – Israel-related programming, LGBTQIA+ programs, or Jewish education, for example – or by offering popular MJCC programs in new venues, such as the Eastside, Hillsboro and Vancouver, or farther afield in Corvallis, Eugene or Medford. In many cases, this will involve new partnerships with a wide range of organizations in the Portland area and throughout the state.
One of the strategies in the section on Programs for Children and Young Families is focused on engaging teens. This might be addressed with a teen advisory group, special teen membership, expansion of the JCC Maccabi program, and/or construction of a dedicated space just for teens. The Community Engagement section identifies a need to engage other demographics not being reached at present, enhancing community connections and engaging volunteers in the planning and implementation of programs across MJCC departments.
The second three sections of the strategic plan address the long-term sustainability of the facilities and finances of the MJCC. Efforts have already begun to assess the utilization of areas on campus to meet the short-term space needs of the center. In addition, the board plans to develop a vision for the campus to address the long-term needs of both the MJCC and Portland Jewish Academy, which shares the Schnitzer Family Campus with the J.
The Development section identifies several major fundraising goals: raising a larger percentage of overall revenue from fundraising; expanding the MJCC’s donor base to include more members; creating a physical plant repair, replacement and special maintenance account to address capital needs; implementing a plan to expand the MJCC’s endowment; and fundraising to meet the capital and programmatic needs outlined elsewhere in the strategic plan.
The Financial Sustainability portion of the plan identifies the need to review pricing for programs and services, as well as compensation, to ensure that the J can attract and retain high quality staff. Other recommendations tie to the need to meet the long-term capital needs of the campus.
A brochure describing the strategic plan and outlining the objectives and strategies in each of the six areas of focus is available upon request from the Welcome Desk at the MJCC. In addition, the complete plan is on the MJCC’s website at oregonjcc.org/about-us/strategicplan. For more information about the strategic plan, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Albert is the executive director of the MJCC.