World ORT Flexes Muscle


Displaying a new independence after losing its Israeli affiliate, World ORT has suddenly tripled the amount of money it is giving to Israeli students — bypassing ORT Israel’s highly respected network of private schools that broke away last fall.

World ORT announced this week that it plans to send nearly $9 million to Israeli public schools in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Education. It is to be used to improve science and technology education in Israel, which the organization said it considers the basic foundation of the Israeli school system.

The money will be split into two parts — $7.4 million will provide 30 to 40 schools with computer and science labs and technology education, and another $1.5 million will do the same for 25 at-risk schools in the north. This money nearly doubles the amount of money spent by the Ministry of Education on science and technology in Israel, and it is World ORT’s largest allocation to Israeli students.

ORT America’s contribution to World ORT will remain unchanged at $5 million.

These new programs, which are slated to start this month, are expected to educate 90,000 students within one year — the same number of students enrolled in ORT Israel schools.

Although ORT Israel said it pulled out of the worldwide ORT network because it wasn’t getting its fair share of money raised, World ORT said the dispute stemmed from ORT Israel’s refusal to provide adequate financial records.

About the new science and technology grants, “World ORT considers the teaching of science and technology as a cornerstone of the Israeli educational system,” Robert Singer, director general of World ORT, wrote to Shmuel Abuav, director general of the Ministry of Education. He added that the $7.4 million allocation would be part of a new program called Science Journey 2007 that World ORT intends to continue to fund in future years.

Judy Menikoff, president of ORT America, said the organization was “excited that we will be delivering funds directly to the programs in Israel, while also ensuring that our donor dollars are being used to the fullest extent possible.”