In response to the rise in the number of children and youth at risk in Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) established Youth Futures (YF), an unprecedented three-way partnership model involving prominent Israeli philanthropists and corporations, Jewish Federations, foundations and individual contributors from North America, and JAFI.
This vital, nationwide program provides youth-at-risk with comprehensive, tailored intervention to enable them to take their place as independent, productive members of society. At the heart of the program are professionally trained young Trustees who are dedicated to social action and change and serve as mentors to the children in the program.
Trustees provide the children with individualized coaching and support. One of the unique and successful aspects of the program is that its reach is community-wide, as the young Trustees ensure that each child has access to the existing community resources that are available specifically to them – those provided by the schools, community centers, municipality, welfare department, and other extracurricular and educational centers. All of these services are coordinated by the Trustees so that all children have their own individual plan of action to help them overcome the specific obstacles they face, whether they are educational, social, or home-based.
The Trustees work with children and their families for three to six years. Currently, Youth Futures serves 6,500 children in 32 localities in Israel. Thanks in part to funding the program receives from the Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund, the Youth Futures program in Sderot is able to serve 169 students from four elementary schools (and one high school) along with 12 full-time trustees. Aviva is in the 4th grade, and has been in the Youth Futures program since October 2008. She lives with her parents and is the middle child between two brothers.
Although both her parents are employed, they are struggling with economic difficulties. The mother is very involved in her children's lives, and Aviva is always clean and well dressed. Yet, Aviva has many problems at school. Math and English are especially difficult for her, and she usually does not pay attention in class. Although she behaves violently towards her classmates, starts unnecessary fights among her friends and is rude to her teachers, Aviva is considered a social leader among her peers. She has trouble dealing with failure and tends to blame it on others.
In her personal meetings with Aviva, the Trustee focuses on anger management, and deals with issues such as how to address a teacher or an adult and proper behavior in class. Aviva has set weekly objectives for herself, with the help of her Trustee, and when she fails to achieve them, she tries to identify the reasons for it. The past few months have shown an amazing transformation in Aviva's behavior, and the teaching staff has even praised her social and scholastic progress. She has been awarded with a certificate for social achievements for two months running, and even received a certificate for excellence. Aviva is a Youth Futures success story