Posted by Jon Federman
Amy* is a young Jewish woman who was raised by a single mother. Amy's father never contributed a penny towards her expenses, leaving her mother a substantial financial burden. Amy was in college when she heard about a program that provides interest-free loans to Jewish women living in Greater Boston. She applied to the Max C. Rosenfeld Loan and Scholarship program and received $4,000 a year, interest-free, for the next three years, totaling $12,000.
Amy went to law school next, and she received another $5,000 for her law school education. Upon her graduation, she worked out a repayment plan, paying just $50 per month. This continued for about two years, until she found herself working for a prestigious Boston law firm where she was earning a sizeable salary. Shortly thereafter, Amy wrote out a check to pay off the balance of her interest-free loans – roughly $16,000. "Without those loans," says Amy, "I would not have been able to take my education - and my earning potential - to a higher level."
The Max C. Rosenfeld Loan and Scholarship program provides interest-free loans for the education, skill-building, and/or training of Jewish women living in Greater Boston. Taken over by JF&CS almost a year ago, its mission is to expand employment opportunities and increase earning potential. Women who are eligible for the program can receive loans up to $4,000 per year – or up to $16,000 over the course of a four-year college education. Even more is available should the recipient decide to attend a graduate program. Eligibility is based on residency in Greater Boston and income (under 100% of area median income). Recipients are required to send transcripts to the loan administrator along the way.
Unlike other loans, such as the Hebrew Free Loan program, the Rosenfeld loans are not payable until graduation – or until the borrower is able to work and repay the loan. Together, the borrower and the loan administrator at JF&CS work on a repayment schedule, taking into consideration the current financial situation of the borrower.
The Rosenfeld Loan program is not just for women seeking four-year college degrees or graduate programs. Ella*, a woman in her late twenties, was foreign-born and not very proficient in English. She received $3,000 from the fund so that she could enroll in an ESL (English as a Second Language) course. Her goal was to be able to craft a resume, take further courses, and ultimately find a job.
Just a few months ago, the Rosenfeld Loan program took on another dimension: the board decided to award scholarships of up to $4,000 to Jewish women. Rachel*, the daughter of a single mom, is the eldest of three children. She is hoping to get an advanced degree in biology. Her siblings are all in college and her mom is unable to contribute anything further to Rachel's education. She has already accrued more than $20,000 in undergraduate loans. The Rosenfeld program awarded her a $4,000 scholarship so that she could pursue her graduate degree and maximize her employment and earning potential.
At any given time, JF&CS is managing more than 80 Rosenfeld loans, and about 30 are currently in repayment. Last year, we loaned more than $50,000 to more than 80 women who were able to build upon their skills, further their educational, certificational, or vocational goals, and increase their potential incomes and employment levels, thanks to Mr. Max C. Rosenfeld.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.