Every year, Bakehila changes the reality for thousands of Arab and Jewish children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The organization breaks the cycle of poverty and reduces the gap of inequalities using integrative educational programs, entrepreneurship, and community work. In parallel, the organization concurrently nurtures young leadership as a backbone of Israeli society.
We believe that educating for innovation and entrepreneurship functions as one of the main tools for social mobility . Additionally , it is clear that the community and neighborhoods are central parts of the very development of our youth in their formative stages . The stronger the community , the more our participants can realize their potential and grow . Teaching entrepreneurship and prioritizing community involvement are key values for today’s kids to succeed . Our vision combines these two worlds to cement a real connection between youth and their communities and enable them to break the glass ceiling .
Design for change
DESIGN FOR CHANGE is an international educational program that operates within schools and turns students into entrepreneurs who are involved and invested in their communities. The goal of the program is to enable children in Israel to believe in themselves and funnel efforts into creating real, positive change in relevant areas that actually matter to them.. Bakehila leads this program in all participating elementary schools with which we collaborate, operated by the gap year volunteers.
The Birthday Angels program is at its essence a prime example of elevating youth through and to the benefit of their local communities. This program empowers youth who are active within their communities through volunteering, social justice work, and community responsibility. The organization’s flagship project is hosting birthday parties in the community. Bakehila acts as a foundation for the creation of entrepreneurship and joint social activity. The Birthday Angels’ prime guiding principles are social involvement, solidarity, volunteering, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The youth volunteers are influential in impacting the communities in which they live as well as Israeli society as a whole.
An innovative entrepreneurship program wherein participating youth experience an actual process of building and establishing a social-technological venture for the city, the local authority, and their neighborhood.
As part of the program, the participants take part in a social-technological accelerator where they receive tools for management, leadership, and personal development.
The program includes professional content to provide participants with tools relevant to social engagement in the modern era.
The program is designated for students in 10th-12th grade and operates across Israel.
I have a dream
In the year 2012, we launched the project “I have a dream” to inspire our participants to aim higher, dream big, and believe anything is possible. As part of the program, we invite professionals with different specializations and/or people with inspirational life stories to come and share their experiences with groups of children and youth (and/or a particular participant). These stories awaken in them a drive to succeed, and motivate them to take action. In addition, we introduce certain participants to different professionals or organizations in which the participants show interest as a hobby or a future career, and request that these professionals also invite the participants to their jobs to learn more.
The activity at the learning and enrichment centers in the Beit Safafa neighborhood started back in 2010 . Since then , we started working in additional neighborhoods in Jerusalem . Today we work in both Beit Safafa and Abu Gosh . This program is a part of our education for equality and our getting to know and accept those who are “other” or different , and coexistence . As part of these efforts , we also operate educational programs that integrate children and youth from both sectors .
Learning and enrichment centers
Our centers provide a wide range of opportunities that encompass educational, enrichment, social, and emotional aspects. The centers operate three days a week, three academic hours per day. The intensive meetups allow the teachers to form significant connections with students, while creating a deep work ethic and a holistic educational process. Because the teachers at the learning centers are residents of the neighborhood, the center is an integral part of everyday life. Through the center, we carry out community-wide initiatives such as educational forums, teacher training sessions, and work with parents. The centers are reinforced by volunteers, who are an integral part of the staff. These reinforcements allow for smaller work groups and enable support to provide children with private lessons. In addition, the children receive social enrichment through various complementary activities in a variety of fields of interest such as photography, robotics, sports, art, acting, and more.
Volunteers in Abu Ghosh
Volunteer work includes education, health, security, welfare, and environmental protection, providing a public service to areas that otherwise is lacking. Those who complete their volunteer work are entitled to benefits similar to those that soldiers receive upon their official release (in accordance with length of service). In Abu Gosh, the volunteers work at schools in the morning and at learning centers in the afternoon, where they assist teachers and help students with their studies. An additional goal of this initiative is to provide the volunteers with self-confidence, personal and professional growth, training, scholarships, and various benefits from the state.
As a part of our work , we operate in schools within the community space and work in collaboration with them to strengthen students struggling in school .
The purpose of the learning centers is to address educational, social and emotional needs for hundreds of youth. In each neighborhood, the organization operates a center adapted to the specific community, in full collaboration with local partners on the ground.
The learning centers operate between two and three days a week in the afternoon by gap year volunteers on behalf of the organization, professional teachers and sometimes volunteers, students, and staff members.
The learning centers open students up to a different kind of learning- learning through new experiences, games and methods tailored to the student to successfully open up to further learning. This experience is a continuation of the school experience and facilitates continuous evolution for the participants.
Work with schools
We operate a unique model in schools to strengthen students in basic subjects (math, English, and Hebrew) and prevent them from dropping out of school. The gap year volunteers work together with the teachers at school in the classrooms so that the lesson can be divided into frontal learning, with the lesson being conducted by the teacher, and smaller groups that are dedicated to going over the materials with the help of the volunteers. Each gap year volunteer dedicates around twenty weekly hours to working in the school. Their hours are divided between classes and social activities for the students. The model was developed in collaboration with the Education and Welfare branch at the Ministry of Education together with local authorities, and operates in each city where Bakehila gap year volunteers work.
Personal one-on-one mentoring. Thanks to the personal mentoring program, our gap year volunteer cohorts manage to connect personally with about 300 children and youth each year. Each volunteer ‘adopts’ 4-6 participants and accompanies them throughout the year, an amazing opportunity for the volunteers to guide them, and a meaningful experience with a positive role model for the kids. The gap year volunteer meets with each child on a weekly basis, enjoying the older brother/sister model, with a pseudo-sibling to help them believe in themselves, conquer their goals, and capitalize on their chance to change the reality of their lives. The mentorship has several purposes: a focus on education, work for social change, or – as often happens – the combination of the two. The mentoring program fits the model perfectly in that it reflects our philosophy that education and advancement can boost further confidence and success and help reduce inequalities. These children grow up into a different reality, one they will write for themselves.
The neighborhood is the community , and it greatly influences its residents and partners.
Connecting all the entities
We believe in working together with all relevant parties in the neighborhood to create a network of collaborative parties for a sequence of activity that benefits the residents. We see the local council and community centers as important parts of the neighborhood leadership, so all organization activity happens as a result of working with these institutions. In addition, we ensure all relevant community institutions are connected: welfare organizations, the municipalities, nonprofits, local companies, and youth movements – all as part of our philosophy that the community should have influence on the lives of its residents. Our ultimate goal is to so greatly benefit the neighborhood that they no longer need us, at which point success is saying goodbye.
One of Bakehila’s primary goals is to bring together local communities, and one main method is through communal experiences for residents. Each year our staff, together with local institutions, plan dozens of community events in the neighborhoods. Enjoying these occasions together brings everyone closer and crystallizes positive relationships and interconnectivity among relevant organizations, employees, and residents to build a better base for the community. Usually, the neighborhood youth volunteers initiate, produce and execute the event. This creates a win-win situation: the youth are empowered and show a different side of themselves to their neighbors and local authority figures, and the result is a plethora of successful cultural and recreational events in the neighborhood.
Connecting the circles of influence
It isn’t enough to make an impact on different environments, our goal is to connect all the circles that surround the children to ensure that our work will continue long after we are gone, and to help facilitate collaborative work and confluence of efforts. We believe that the best way to ensure sustainability and improvement on the vital work with children and teenagers is for all the different structures of their lives to be involved in the process and continue to provide support and tools for further evolution and growth. Our view that a support system and integrated network enable change to be permanent is why we formulated our approach wherein the entire educational process is carried out together with the participant’s family, the additional educational institutions in their lives, and the community.
The work at school is carried out hand in hand with the students’ teachers. Work on topics is concentrated into study marathons in conjunction with all parties to encourage mastery of concepts. After this study marathon, we throw an event called “combining the circles,” where the children’s achievements are accentuated to the parents and the importance of and appreciation for their involvement is repeated, and they are provided guidance on how to work with the child to maintain their achievements. Our volunteers also visit the children in their homes and maintain regular contact with the parents to support them as they encourage this incredible progress.