YOUTH FUTURES

The Division for Youth Futures The Israel Department of the Jewish Agency

January 2007

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Need: The figures on poverty in Israel point to growing inequality between the Center and the Periphery. The result: a growing number of children and youth at risk. Solution: Youth Futures is a national program based on a partnership between Diaspora Jewry and Israelis. We hope that by the year 2010, the program will be operating in 52 localities in the Negev and Galilee with the goal of improving the situation of youth at risk in both the geographic and social periphery in Israel. Goal: To provide youth at risk with an equal opportunity to develop their unique skills, both academic and social, and to break out of the cycle of poverty and underachievement. Target Population: Children and youth at risk from elementary school to high school. Program Components: Youth Futures is aimed at creating a holistic and integrative support system for the children in the various communities. The program has three main components: 1. Trustees who work with children of elementary school age: This part of the program is aimed at developing motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence among the children and improving their scholastic achievements while also developing their ability to set goals for themselves and achieve them. This component of the program will involve personal and group support by the trustee who will also serve as a role model for the child and will function as a coordinator between the authorities dealing with the child. 2. Community Support Network: One of the working guidelines of the program is the development of a support network in the community, capable of meeting the needs of the children participating in the program and recruiting the community as a whole to the commitment for its children’s future. a. High School programs These programs aim at ensuring that a majority of the youth complete 12 years of school and are eligible for a matriculation diploma that will gain them entry to academic institutions in Israel. This will be combined with the development of individual potential and strengthening of a sense of selfconfidence and tools needed for success in school and other areas of life. This component will involve a number of existing high school programs which successfully combine improvement in scholastic achievement with personal growth. b. Circles of Opportunity – Empowerment Groups for Children and Youth This component aims at expanding the enrichment activities and activity groups offered in the community. These activities will enable children and youth in general, and those at-risk in particular, to experience a large variety of activities in order to fulfill their individual potential. c. Community-wide Volunteer Infrastructure This component aims at recruiting the community through its volunteer members and organizations, which can be recruited to help complement the existing resources available to the children and teenagers. The network of volunteers will encompass the private, public and third sectors. • • Facts and Figures (as of January 2007): 22 operational localities 14 localities awaiting approval

Over 5,000 children and 200 Trustees NEED: The figures on poverty in Israel point to an increasing degree of inequality between the Center and the Periphery. As of today, every third child in Israel lives under the poverty line which represents an increase of 45% during the last five years (according to the Council for Child Welfare, 2005). As a result of the increase in economic inequality, there were 380,000 children and youth in Israel known to the social services in 2005. This compares to only 275,000 in 2000. In other words, within five years, the number of children subject to one degree of risk or another has increased by 38%. Despite the ongoing increase in the number of children at risk, the capacity of the existing social services is insufficient to meet their needs. Thus, half of the children known to the social services do not receive any support at all while part of the remainder receive support that only partially meets their needs (from the report of the Public Committee to Assess the Situation of Children and Youth at Risk and in Distress, 2006). With regard to the future prospects of these children, the figures again show a worsening of social and economic inequality. In Israel, which is currently ranked 49th out of 53 countries in scholastic achievement, only 7.4% of the children born to families in the lower two income deciles will continue on to higher education while the figure is 74.4% for children from the upper two deciles. In conclusion, although there is no clear and agreed-upon definition of the term “children at risk”, those same children who have been identified by the welfare and education authorities as children at risk are those who are characterized by significant learning disabilities and whose needs have not been met in the conventional frameworks. These are children who in many cases do not find physical and emotional support in the family framework – and often just the opposite. These are children who do not receive proper nutrition. They do not participate in enough social activity, such as extracurricular activity groups, youth movements, hikes, plays, etc., which are an important part of the ability to develop, to dream and to be exposed to new possibilities. These are children who are destined for failure in their matriculation exams and perhaps will even drop out before completing 12 years of schooling. They have a smaller chance of being drafted into the army and will have difficulty making a decent wage that can support a family and becoming contributing members of society. THE SOLUTION: Youth Futures is a nation-wide program that is based on a partnership between Diaspora Jewry and Israel. By 2010, the program will be operating in 52 localities in the Negev and Galilee with the goal of generating change among children and youth at risk in the geographic and social periphery of Israel. Youth Futures is intended to provide an answer to the growing need for investment in the population defined as children and youth at risk. This is accomplished through “the creation of opportunities for children and youth that will allow them to fully exploit their potential while removing educational and social barriers that stand in their way to success.”

GOALS OF THE PROGRAM: • To provide children at risk of elementary school age an equal opportunity to succeed and the chance of exploiting their individual potential through the development of motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence, the improvement of scholastic achievement and the development of the ability to set goals for oneself and achieve them. To ensure that the youth complete 12 years of school and achieve a high-quality matriculation diploma that will enable them to continue on to higher education and escape the cycle of poverty. This will be accomplished by the development of individual potential, personal abilities and the strengthening of self-confidence. To expand the existing enrichment activities in the community with the goal of strengthening the capabilities and skills among local children and youth and among those at risk in particular.

TARGET POPULATION: • Children of elementary school age (6-13) who have been identified by the education and welfare services in the locality as being appropriate candidates for the program and who, with the program’s assistance, have a good chance of success. These children will be chosen according to the definition of the Children at Risk Law: “A child whose situation is harming, or is liable to harm, his chances for integrating within the mainstream education system, within family life or within society or a situation in which there is a real concern for his normal development whether it be the result of the child himself, his family or his environment.” • Children in Grades 9-12 (aged 14 to 18) who are studying in the mainstream education system and who in the opinion of the school will benefit from a supplementary program that aims at ensuring that they complete 12 years of school and/or fulfill the requirements for matriculation. BASIC ASSUMPTIONS: • Education does not only occur in school. Family, friends and environment all have important roles to play in shaping the identity of the child. • Every child has his strong points. These must be identified and used to reinforce his sense of worth and his motivation. • Support for the child requires the combination of individual and group components. Each component strengthens different aspects of the child’s abilities. • The more difficult the situation of the children or youth at risk, the less chance they have of taking advantage of the services offered by the various authorities. • Educational involvement requires in-depth work over the long run.

COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM

I – Trustees
Goal: To provide children at risk, aged 6-13, with an equal opportunity to succeed and to fulfill their individual potential through the development of motivation, self-esteem and selfconfidence, improvement of scholastic achievement in core subjects and developing the ability to set goals for oneself and achieve them. Approach: This stage of the program will involve personal and group work with the children by the trustees who form the core of the program. A personal program (or map of future progress) will be drawn up for each child that will be based on a comprehensive mapping of his needs and strengths. The program will be created by a professional team assigned to the child (teacher/social worker/guidance counselor) together with the trustee. It will focus on four spheres of functioning: personal growth, scholastic achievement, the social environment and the family environment. The trustee’s function is to oversee the implementation of the personal program and to coordinate between the various authorities involved in the child’s personal program. What is a trustee? The basic assumption of Youth Futures is that a movement of young people has the power to generate real change in the situation of large numbers of children and youth. During recent decades, a unique phenomenon has developed in Israel that involves communities of young people from various backgrounds who devote themselves to social change. These groups of young people live in neighborhoods and towns in Israel’s social and geographic periphery and work to improve the social and educational situation of children and youth at risk. These groups constitute an excellent role model for children and youth as a “significant adult”. This is the result of both their belief that change can be achieved and the systems of values they bring with them, as well as their commitment to helping children and youth at risk. These groups are a significant source of support for local educational and welfare programs and assist the local authorities in their work. They help ensure that everything is being done in order to help children and youth at risk fulfill their individual potential. The work of the trustees: “Trustee” is the name chosen for the new social function developed by the Youth Futures program and is intended to create a framework within the young communities for their work with children at risk. The choice of the name reflects the relationship of trust between the child and the trustee. One can thus view the work contract between the two as a covenant through which the child agrees to cooperate with the adult in the efforts to improve his situation. The same idea allows us to describe the working relationship between the two as coaching, a term which also reflects the belief in the child’s ability to shape his future.

Young people who wish to participate in the program are required to commit to at least three years of continuous work in order to ensure an ongoing relationship with the child, build trust between the child and trustee and create a process of monitoring that will justify the definition of “trustee”. Each trustee in the program will work with one or two groups of 10 children for 15 or 30 hours per week respectively. About 7 hours per group will be devoted to individual work with the children, 2-3 hours to group work and 5 hours to coordination with the authorities surrounding the child.

The Trustee’s work environment is composed of three dimensions:

How we do it
Trustees

Family

Community

Child
Peer Group

The Personal Dimension: This involves a workplan of “one-on-one” with the child, including the development of close relations with the child, his family and the therapeutic/educational staff dealing with him. The trustee will serve as a role model for the child. He will provide the child with the tools/methods from the world of Coaching that are used to define personal goals and will guide him in achieving them in accordance with the goals defined for the child in his personal workplan, for example, improvement of functioning in school (perseverance, participation in class, etc.); strengthening social skills (acquiring friends, etc.); improving behavioral/normative aspects (violence, resolving conflicts, improving individual abilities such as self-image, etc.). The Group Dimension: In addition to individual work with each child, the trustee will work with 10 children in a group framework that will serve as a supportive social and learning environment for the child. Through group work, the trustee will help the child develop social skills and social capabilities. In addition, the children will be given tools for dealing with violence, the resolution of conflict, activity on behalf of the group and the community and achieving goals as a group. The municipal authorities will endeavor to provide a space in which the activity can take place and in which the children will feel at “home”. It can be a room in the Community Center or Youth House or a classroom which is not used during those hours or any other facility which the children can decorate in order to make it a pleasant place for them to meet. The Integrative Dimension: The trustee will also have the function of integrator with the aim of improving access to existing services in the community and coordinating between those services. For example, coordination of extracurricular activity groups, linking up with professionals in the community, referral to relevant professional organizations according to the child’s needs and the problems that arise in the relationship with him and in general building a community-wide support network for the child. Within this framework, the trustee is responsible for the ensuring the holistic nature of the children's personal workplan, including those aspects which the trustee does not himself implement. For example, creating a link with a volunteer organization that will provide tutorial lessons; referral to professional authorities (welfare, education, etc.) if the child or his family is in distress; maintaining contact with the education system with regard to the performance of the child in school; contact with implementers of the extracurricular activity groups in which the child participates in order to chart his progress and to set goals within that framework; etc.

Personal Empowerment Budget for the Child An annual personal growth budget will be allocated for each child in the amount of $350. This budget is intended to provide a solution to three primary needs: 1. The amount of $250 per child will be available for the reinforcement of various personal skills. This amount is intended to provide the child with the possibility of expanding his areas of strength and interest through participation in an appropriate extracurricular activity group or course. The aim is to strengthen his abilities and skills as agreed upon by the child and his trustee. 2. An amount of $75 per child will be available to the trustee for group activity. Thus, each group of 10 children will have an annual activity budget of $750. This sum can be devoted to group social activity (movies, plays, etc.), the purchase of material for group activity (art materials, gardening material, etc.), year-end parties and the like. 3. An additional amount of $25 will be available to the trustee for each child. This amount is intended to enable the trustee to strengthen the relationship with the child through personal gestures (such as a birthday present, a New Year card, prizes, etc.).

II – Community Support Network
a. The High School Component: Goal: To ensure that the youth complete 12 years of school and that they have the opportunity to achieve a high quality matriculation diploma. This will enable them to continue on to higher education and to break out of the cycle of poverty. This will be accomplished through the realization of individual potential through development and advancement in an area of personal interest. Working Methods: The Youth Futures program works to create a strategic partnership between a limited number of existing high school programs which have already been proven successful and whose success has been confirmed by evaluation studies. These partners will provide educational solutions on a national level and will take part in the financing of the program. The selected high school programs are intended to improve scholastic achievement and eligibility for matriculation and their approach will also include elements of personal growth and development of the participants’ abilities and skills. The selected programs will have as large a diversity of characteristics and working methods as possible in order to meet the variety of needs among the students in the various localities. A solution will be chosen for each community that is suited to its characteristics and the needs of the participating youth through the selection of one or more of the suggested programs. This program is implemented largely during formal school hours and within a classroom framework. The class will consist of those high school students who were chosen by the education system to participate in Youth Futures. This class will benefit from a holistic program that provides tools for achieving various kinds of goals through empowering the teenager and strengthening his/her sense of self worth and confidence, while improving the participants’ scholastic achievements.

The choice of group/activity from those offered in the community or those to be developed as part of the program will be made in accordance with the needs and abilities of the student. The participation in the activity will be part of the learning process which reveals the individual’s areas of strength and interest. These are the areas in which the participant is able to develop and in which he has the possibility of setting attainable long and short run goals. b. Circles of Opportunity – Empowerment Groups for Children and Youth Goal: To expand the variety of enrichment activities – activity groups and personal growth activities – that exist in the community. These groups will enable the general population of children and youth, particularly children and youth at risk, to be exposed to as large a variety of subjects and areas of interest as possible with the aim of fully exploiting their individual potential. Rationale: At the foundation of the Youth Futures program is the belief that every child has areas of strength and personal areas of interest. The development and reinforcement of the child’s abilities will affect not only his skills in this area but also his feeling of confidence and selfworth. In this way, his experience of success and ability to succeed will be strengthened in other areas of his life as well. The method chosen to fulfill this potential is participation in an enrichment activity within an informal educational framework after school hours as part of a group or as an individual. The Youth Futures program gives the highest priority to the existence in every community of as large a selection of activities as possible from which the children and youth can choose according to their personal preferences. The program will work to assist in creating activities if they do not exist and will assist in strengthening and improving already existing activities. Circles of Opportunity are intended to provide an organizational envelope which will provide solutions to the participants in the Youth Futures program in the form of activity groups and enrichment activities. Target Population: 1. Participants in the Youth Futures program. 2. Children and youth in the general local population. c. Community-Wide Volunteer Infrastructure Basic assumption: each locality has a unique volunteer infrastructure that is based on local volunteers and non-profit organizations, most of which work independently of the others. These organizations include, for example, relevant volunteer organizations, such as recipients of JAFI scholarships, who can provide tutorial help for the students in the program in subjects such as reading, math, English, etc. They also include private volunteers or various volunteer organizations (such as organizations of pensioners, National Service volunteers, small businesses and business organizations, etc.) which can be recruited to help complement the existing resources available to the children and teenagers.

Each locality has its own distinctive infrastructure. The Youth Futures program aims to identify these valuable human resources (in the three sectors: private, public and third) through a mapping process, and define each factor through the unique benefits it can have for the local children – to contribute to their academic, personal and social development, as well as to their entire family unit in many ways: assistance in enrichment and development of personal abilities (such as organizing lectures on various topics, sports or recreational activities, etc.), help in meeting the physical needs of the children and their families, such as the donation of school or household supplies from non-profit organizations or businesses, etc.

THE PROGRAM’S WORKING GUIDELINES: Working with the Child The program operates with the child’s point of view in mind and with the desire to ensure that the program is built together with him and that he is the one who determines the future tasks that he will work to accomplish. At the same time, the program will create and support an environment that will provide him with access to opportunities for the realization of his potential. A Program based on a Young Community as a Catalyst The starting point of Youth Futures is that a movement of young people has the power to generate real change in the situation of a large number of children and youth. Therefore, a working model was chosen in which trustees belong to socially active communities of young people who will oversee the work with the children in the program. In addition, a young community has value in itself both because it is a supportive social/professional framework for its members and as a factor which can influence the community and introduce a spirit of change. A Program based on Continuity and a Holistic Approach: The program, including all its components, is based on the creation of a continuum of solutions and support for children from Grade 1 until the completion of high school. A child in the elementary school stage of the program who requires continuing oversight and support in high school can continue in the program until the completion of his studies as part of the special frameworks designed for that stage. This all-encompassing approach is manifested in the efforts to provide the children in Youth Futures with a wide variety of solutions together with maximum flexibility in modifying solutions to the needs of the participants and their abilities. The assistance, as described above, includes the following components: personal and group support from the trustee; development of Opportunity Centers and afternoon enrichment activities for elementary school and high school children; access to existing programs and services in the community; work with the family and the municipal educational/therapeutic staff responsible for the child; etc.

A Program based on an Overall Community Outlook The Youth Futures program can only be successfully implemented with a system-wide perspective that takes into account the goals of the project but does so with a broad community-wide point of view and in cooperation with the community bodies responsible for helping children and youth and other interventionist bodies in the community. This approach has day-to-day implications in the way that the project is implemented on the community level. It demands the involvement of the community in designing the program and modifying it to local needs and in overseeing the program in general. This is in addition to the commitment of the community to aid children participating in the program and to enable the expansion and access of solutions available to them. This approach requires the creation of a steering committee composed of the above-mentioned bodies whose goal will be maintain full coordination and cooperation between the community and the partners of the program in order to advance the goals of the project on behalf of the target population. A Program based on the Creation of a Local Support network: One of the working guidelines of the program is the development of a support network in the community that will be capable of meeting the needs of the children participating in the program and recruiting the community as a whole to the commitment towards the children’s future. This will be done simultaneously with the recruitment of local services and local volunteers to the achievement of this objective. The local staff of the program will map the available services, the institutional and private institutions and the non-profit organizations operating in the community and will make them accessible to the target population, according to the needs that arise in the field from time to time. One of the goals of the trustee is to collect information, with the aid of the program’s professional staff, on the needs of the children he is working with and to assist in locating solutions in the field to meet those needs. TRAINING AND OVERSIGHT: The work of the trustee, who is a new social player working for the benefit of children at risk, requires an ongoing process to define and strengthen the approach of the job and includes initial and ongoing training, as well as professional oversight. The trustee’s training process includes the following components: Basic training whose goal is to shape and build the trustee and to provide him with theoretical and practical tools for carrying out his function. This function includes, among other things, the acquisition of tools for working with children and youth at risk, the foundations of working as a personal coach, tools for constructing a personal workplan, etc. In addition, the process includes the deepening of knowledge and training in the area and “learning from colleagues” which is based on learning from case studies from practical work and involves trustees learning from one another about the work process with the children and ways of dealing with problems that arise.

Their work also has the support of a professional which will involve group meetings and individual assistance for the trustees. To this end, a network of local professional help will also be available that will rely on the input of professionals in the community (welfare, education, etc.). This will involve the creation of a hot line for the trustees and meetings with the community professionals. EVALUATION STUDIES: The entire program will be monitored by an evaluation study that will operate on two levels: • Evaluation focusing on processes (constructive evaluation) which will assess the program’s implementation processes and will aid the managers of the project in setting policy, decision making and choosing between alternatives. The evaluation will identify points of strength and weakness as well as catalysts and barriers in the process of shaping the program. • Evaluation focusing on results which will assess the critical factors determining the success of the program and the results of intervention in the field. It will formulate and present indicators of the impact of the program on the various target populations and its success in achieving the goals that have been set. During the 2006-7 school year, the evaluation stage of Youth Futures will be a part of the program's formation process, and will assist in its improvement during its ongoing implementation. During the next years, the evaluation will also include findings regarding the program's contribution to the children and their communities. The evaluation process will be carried out by the Ben Gurion University's Center for Education Enhancement (CEE), a veteran in the field of evaluation of national social and educational projects, and a long-time partner of the Jewish Agency and overseas Jewish communities. The CEE will be supervised and assisted by a professional JAFI team, made up of professionals in the field from the Israel Department. The program's success will be measured according the following indicators: 1. Development in the various parts of the program – the Trustees' work, scholastic achievements and activities. 2. Progress in building an operational structure – recruitment of Trustees, their training, creating a community-wide support network, cooperation with various local programs etc. 3. Three circles of influence will be considered in evaluating the Youth Futures program components: a. Personal goals circle – personal achievements indicator, which will show the child's measure of success in achieving his/her set goals. b. Subject circle – will evaluate a locality, an area or nationwide progress in one field, such as improvement rate in English, behavior in class, use of local resources, etc. c. General (local) circle – several external indicators can be examined after a period of time (and partially examined this year), for example, the matriculation eligibility rate or drop-out rate.

4. The criteria for success, as defined by the program: a. Giving children aged 6-13 an equal opportunity for success through developing motivation, self confidence, and improving scholastic achievements. b. Ensuring that the children will complete their matriculation exams, which will allow them to continue to higher education. c. Enriching the variety of local programs and resources for the benefit of the Youth Futures participants and the entire community. d. Developing a young community in each locality, to influence and strengthen the entire community. 5. Examining further goals or changes in the program, as it progresses. FINANCING OF THE PROJECT: The financing rationale of the project corresponds to the philosophy of the program as a whole which strives to create a partnership between Diaspora Jewry and Israel. The goal is to create joint intervention – by World Jewry and various bodies in Israel (business organizations, private bodies, etc.) – in creating a future of hope and excellence in the Israeli Periphery. The project is financed according to a new model of partnership which brings together three main financing partners: the Jewish Agency, a Jewish community or a major donor from the Jewish world and an Israeli donor – an individual, fund or business which is committed to social responsibility. In addition, the national and local government bodies will participate in providing support infrastructure and services to the project, including offices, facilities for activity, transportation, lodgings for the trustees, etc. FACTS AND FIGURES: As of January 2007, the Youth Futures program is operational in 22 various localities all over the Negev and the Galilee, and 14 additional localities are awaiting approval to begin operation in the months of September 2007 or 2008. Over 5,000 children and teenagers participate in the program to date, and are being treated with trustees, high school programs and/or other various courses that are made available to them. See following summary of the Youth Futures localities – both operational and awaiting approval.

22 Operational Localities
Eilat Ofakim Dimona Hazor Maale Beit Shean
Beit Shean Nazareth

Youth Futures

R.C.

Ilit

Safed

Migdal Emek Yizrael Sdot HaEmek R.C. Negev
Merom HaGalil R.C.

Yokneam Netivot

Tiberias Rosh Pina

Yosef R.C.

Sderot

Acco

Megiddo Mateh Yerucham R.C. Asher R.C.

Awaiting Approval: 14 Localities
Gilboa R.C. Horfesh Kiryat Arad Shmonah Kiryat Gat Afula Be’er Sheva

Ashkelon

Ma’alot

Carmiel Mughar Jerusalem

Tarshicha R.C.

Mizpe Ramon

Our goal: 52 localities by 2010

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