Generosity creates state-of-the art facilities, enriches Jewish communities, and helps JCCs succeed
NEW YORK —JCC Association of North America is proud and honored to recognize Carol and Michael Staenberg of St. Louis, Missouri, for their lifelong commitment to the JCC Movement and their bold investments in multiple JCCs across the Midwest. Like so much of their philanthropy, the two most recent gifts—to the Jewish Community Center of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas,—illustrate the couple’s exceptional legacy of giving and their devotion to the Jewish community, which are all the more notable during these uncertain times. Acknowledging the Staenbergs’ gifts, Doron Krakow, president and CEO of JCC Association, said:
The Staenbergs are, quite simply, extraordinary. The impact of a JCC on Michael’s life left an indelible mark on him—a mark that has resulted in both he and Carol making the JCC Movement the object of such extraordinary devotion that their names adorn JCCs across four U.S. states. We are honored by their leadership and their incredible dedication to the impact of JCCs on individuals, on families, and on entire communities.
Staenberg’s relationship with the JCC of Omaha dates back to his boyhood in that city. When he was 13, his father, Marty, died unexpectedly, and his mother, recognizing that the eldest of her four children would need friends to help him process his grief, got him involved at the JCC. “It was there,” Staenberg says, “I found a new sense of family and the support of the community. Time on the basketball court and away at camp one summer helped me build lifelong friendships.”
The lessons Staenberg, a business leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, learned as a child in Omaha have stayed with him, and today, they fuel his exceptional philanthropic activities. “My parents instilled in each of us the Jewish tradition of tzedakah—the obligation of giving to charity.” As a result, he says, “[W]e knew that taking care of those less fortunate was an essential part of who we are. … As I grew and developed my own commercial real estate business, I viewed philanthropy and mentoring others as my way to continue our family legacy.”
With their newest gift, a generous stakeholder investment in the JCC of Omaha, the Staenbergs once again have demonstrated their family’s legacy of tzedakah. The facility is now known as the Staenberg Omaha JCC. According to Executive Director Mark Martin:
Michael is so much more than a philanthropic donor. He is a listener, teacher, and partner in sharing his vision. From our very first meeting six years ago, Michael told me the JCC needed “mojo” and he would help us get there, but it would take more than just building materials. A welcoming environment, innovative programming, and an engaged staff are just some of the additional components he has taught us to become an even more successful organization. I am fortunate to have such an insightful leader as Michael providing guidance as we move forward.
In 2016, the Staenbergs and others provided leadership gifts that funded renovation of the Omaha JCC, including fitness center upgrades, energy-saving lighting, and interior improvements to enhance the member experience. In recognition of that generosity, the facility became known as the Staenberg Kooper Fellman Campus of the Omaha JCC.
Last fall, the JCC of Greater Kansas City broke ground on an $11 million, 32,000-square-foot addition to its facility, to which the Staenbergs contributed $3 million. The Staenberg Family Recreation Center is on track to open in November. As to Jim Sluyter, CEO and president of the JCC of Greater Kansas City, Kansas noted:
We are so thankful for generous philanthropists like Michael Staenberg who understand the importance of Jewish Community Centers and whose generosity inspires so many others to give back. This expansion will dramatically increase our impact on our community, ensure the financial stability of the J for the next generation, and enrich the lives of countless individuals and families for decades to come.
The Omaha and Kansas City JCCs, however, are not the only ones within the JCC Movement, which comprises 173 JCCs (Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps) across North America, to benefit from the Staenbergs’ generosity.
In 2009, A $35 million gift from the Staenbergs transformed their local St. Louis Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, Missouri, into a 155,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. Known as the Staenberg Family Complex, it features four pools, basketball and racquetball courts, a health club, a fitness and training center, a spa, a café, and an extensive art collection. “We are fortunate to have Michael and Carol as members of our community, and we are deeply grateful to them for their philanthropic leadership and for sharing their know-how as part of the process of enriching our facilities,” said the JCC’s President and CEO Lynn Wittels. Indeed, as he so often does, Staenberg contributed his time and expertise to make the project a reality. “Giving of your money is one way to help,” he says, “but also being generous with your knowledge, ideas, and time can make a real difference.”
In the Twin Cities, too, where Staenberg has completed a number of business development projects, his family made a generous campaign gift of $500,000 to the St. Paul JCC in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in their honor, the facility’s fitness studios are known as the Staenberg Family Fitness Studios. Staenberg also has loaned and gifted more than $150,000 in art work to the St. Paul JCC. As is his practice, Staenberg made helpful connections and recommendations on many aspects of the project, from parking lot lights and fitness equipment vendors to paint colors, hallway widths, and more.
The Staenberg name also is associated with the JCC in Denver, which is known as the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center in recognition of the family’s generous support of a capital campaign in 2016. The enhanced facility featured a new lobby, fitness center, early childhood center, indoor and outdoor pools, sports field, and parking lot.
Staenberg has received numerous awards and honors for his professional and philanthropic endeavors. In recognition of his outstanding service and character of leadership in the JCC field, Staenberg received the Frank L. Weil Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Jewish Community Center Field by a Lay Leader from JCC Association in 2018.
JCC Association was honored to bestow the Weil Award upon Staenberg and, today, once again, proudly applauds the Staenbergs for their steadfast and loyal commitment to the JCC Movement.
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About JCC Association of North America
JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of JCCs (Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps) each week, the JCC Movement represents the largest platform of Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association is the convening organization of this powerful network, partnering with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the JCC Movement, which includes approximately 53,000 staff members—12,000 full-time skilled professionals, 24,000 part-time staff, and 17,000 seasonal summer staff. By supporting them, together we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America. Learn more at JCCA.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.