Hillel partners with non-Jewish organization to create service learning spring break

Hillel has partnered with City Year, an organization that provides service opportunities and volunteer mentorship to underpriviledged urban young people, to create an alternative urban winter break.

The program, which will send 200 Hillel participants to various city for 25 hours of community service and a service learning program is the first partnership for Jewish service learning that a Jewish organization has formed with a secular organization, according to Hillel. 

Here is the press release:

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Hillel, City Year Launch Breakthrough Partnership

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life is partnering with City Year, the national service organization, to engage 200 Jewish college students in 5,000 hours of hands-on service.  The students, from more than 25 campuses across the United States, are providing assistance in at-risk communities in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.  The Urban Alternative Break represents the first large-scale partnership between a Jewish and secular national service organization. 

The first Urban Alternative Break experience will take place January 3-10, 2010 in Los Angeles with seven participating campuses. Urban Alternative Break experiences also will be held in Miami, March 7-14, including students from 11 campuses, and in New York, March 14-21, including students from six large campuses and from Hillel’s Soref Initiative which serves campuses with small Jewish populations.

“This exciting partnership advances our efforts toward helping students find a balance in being distinctively Jewish and universally human through the pursuit of tzedek, social justice,” said Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone.  “We are thrilled to collaborate with City Year and provide Jewish young adults with opportunities to change the world.”

Building on Hillel’s successful week-long Alternative Break program formula, each Urban Alternative Break will combine 25 hours of hands-on labor and services, a ten-hour educational program including a “Bringing it Back to Campus” workshop, and a pluralistic, peer-led Shabbat experience.  Trained Hillel professionals will provide targeted follow-through after the experience to ensure that the Urban Alternative Break is not an isolated experience, but a springboard for ongoing service involvement.

“We are honored to partner with Hillel to help young people act on their values of social justice and common concern to improve the lives of others – and gain a powerful life experience in the process,” said City Year CEO and Co-Founder Michael Brown.  “By spending their spring breaks dedicated to service, these students are setting an impressive example for others.”

City Year unites 1, 750 young adults in full-time service as tutors, mentors and role models helping students stay in school and on track.  In addition to their in-school service, the diverse leaders of City Year perform transformative physical service that helps revitalize public schools and public spaces – part of City Year’s mission is to engage others in the power of service.

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