Israel & Global Initiatives

Youth Futures Program to Evolve

Youth Futures Program

The Youth Futures program, made possible by the Jewish Federation, has already helped more than 400 at-risk children in Israel. Now, thanks its success and popularity, the Israel government among other organizations are helping to fund and making this program a national priority.

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The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County and Jewish Agency for Israeli (JAFI)'s "Youth Futures" program is designed to help at-risk children in Israel succeed in school and ultimately be better prepared for adulthood. Since its inception in 2005, the Youth Futures program has become the largest of its kind. Approximately 416 children from the Federation of Palm Beach County's partner communities of Tzfat, Hatzor Haglilit and Rosh Pina are currently being mentored by young adults - thanks to Youth Futures. The young adults are responsible for assisting with school work, finding social services for the children and their family, and working with the parents to improve relationships at home. “The need is greater than we are able to handle,” said Nir Lahav, the founding director of the Youth Futures program. “We are turning people away. We have to decide who has the greatest need for the program. It is never enough.”

Over the next three years, the Israeli government will begin to take over part of the funding of the Youth Futures program. Each of the communities, with the support of JAFI and Israeli philanthropists, will also be responsible for providing partial support. According to Lahav, Youth Futures – the largest non-government sponsored program in Israel – will continue to thrive and grow by adding new programs, including one in Tzfat that works with the Haredi or ultra-orthodox Jewish community. Because of the program’s success and the large number of participants, there are also three additional schools waiting to join the program; these schools are expected to work with Haredi women within a Youth Futures framework, Lahav said.

JAFI's new focus on the Youth Futures program exemplifies the organization's priorities of expanding Israel experiences for Jews around the world as well as increasing the number of social activism programs. Lahav added: "Aliyah (Hebrew for immigration to Israel) is no longer the main focus of JAFI. Our main focus is how the Jewish people will remain a people.”

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