Bakehila, part of JVP Community, is an organization for social change, working to promote equal opportunity and social mobility in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The principal areas of activity are in educational and community work. The central tool used to attain this vision is in the operation of formal and informal educational projects. In order to spur broad social change, each project works simultaneously with different groups: children and youth, parents and relevant institutions in the community. As such, the program is committed to foster cooperation between residents, organizations, volunteers and governmental bodies. The school serves as an entry gate of the program for work in the neighborhood, and acts as a central axis of activity. The school was chosen because it is an institutional space that unites most of the neighborhood residents.
Following the success of a pilot program that was implemented in two schools in 2002, the program was expanded and gained the support of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Education. Today there are fifteen schools participating in the program in four neighborhoods: Katamon, Gilo, Talpiot and Neve Yaacov. In 2010, more then 2,500 kids, their parents and members of the communities took part in the program activities. The program operates in full coordination and cooperation with Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality, local schools and community councils, and additional NGO’s operating in the neighborhoods.
BAKEHILA’S KEY PROGRAMS:
- In-School Morning Program (Bakehila-Omets) in 15 schools: The educational program provides students from 5th to 8th grade, with essential learning skills, teaching them how to study and narrow the learning gaps. The participating schools select the weakest students, who participate in intensive, short-term, study-skills training. Developed by an educational psychologist, the method teaches students how to deconstruct information into small, easily understood components, and how to study towards a specific goal, such as an exam. At the end of the learning period, the students undergo intensive learning marathons. The program is designed to yield immediate results, the students are able to see their marks improve and this success rewards and encourages additional efforts. In-School Social Activity: Year-of-Service volunteers initiate, and take part in, many social activities in the schools: operating the student council, school newspaper, school library, active recesses, special events such as holidays and memorial days, ceremonies, end of year parties, in order to further engage the students in the school as well as to improve the school’s social atmosphere.
- After School Learning and Enrichment Centers (10 centers) offer students a continuation of the educational framework, with formal and informal educational opportunities and a hot meal. This activity serves to strengthen students’ in-school achievements and self-esteem through small group tutoring, to expand their fields of interest with activities such arts, sports, nature and dance, and leadership training and group dynamic to promote social skills and values.
- Youth Groups and Clubs (in each neighborhood) offer an alternative structured evening framework and work to strengthen social and leadership skills, group work and personal attitudes and motivation, as well as to create youth groups or help students connect to the existing youth movements.
- Parent Empowerment Groups (in each neighborhood) help parents become more aware and actively involved in their children’s lives, in their education and within the community’s activities and improvement overall. Once a week the parents are offered tools and support in facilitated discussions of the two major transitions their children are about to go through (entering puberty and moving to middle schools).
- Year of Service Volunteers (Shinshinim) Shinshinim are the primary service providers for the Community Empowerment Program. These pre-Army teenage volunteers live in the neighborhood; work in the schools, in after-school and evening programs. As a mutual benefit from their involvement, they receive training and support in their work as well with enrichment classes, to enhance their activism and civic responsibility as future leaders. There are 44 shinshinim living in the four neighborhoods.
How did it all Begin?
JVP Community, a social profit organization, was launched in
2002, with a goal to lead a process of change and improvement in the cultural and
social reality in Jerusalem by addressing significant social gaps in Jerusalem
and by contributing to a vibrant pluralistic and creative city. JVP Community
was founded by Erel Margalit, a leading Israeli venture-capitalist, to help
strengthen and transform the lives of Jerusalemites, especially young people,
with Bakehila community programs for educational enrichment and with The Lab
performing arts center for creativity and innovation.