The grant will support Onward Israel's efforts to increase the number of Birthright Israel and teen program alumni who return to Israel for internships, service learning and academic opportunities, and fellowships. Over the next year, the organization hopes to increase the number of participants it engages from fifteen hundred to twenty-two hundred in eleven different theme-based experiences — up from four in 2015 — including entrepreneurship and innovation; education and social services; science, technology and health; policy and government; and sports, hospitality, and business.
Last year, Onward launched several initiatives to deepen Jewish learning experiences, including weekend "breakout seminars" in which participants choose options such as leadership, geopolitics and diplomacy, spirituality, and social change and forge relationships with participants from the full range of onward Israel programs; options for additional enrichment through the Onward Israel "miniversity"; an option for academic credit through an internship enhancement course; a new option that provides each participant with a four-day seminar on contemporary Israeli society and allows for reflection on the participants’ Jewish identity; and, in partnership with Ulpan Or, a pre-program online Hebrew learning opportunity.
"Onward Israel is designed to meet the interests of today's young adults who seek international resumé-building experiences," said Onward Israel co-founder and board chair David Shapira. "Onward Israel is becoming one of the most attractive and fastest growing deep-impact programs in the Jewish world. This investment by the Jim Joseph Foundation will enable Onward Israel to maintain this rapid growth, while continuing to thoughtfully invest in educational content that makes the program both attractive and effective."