Canadian businessman donates $2 million to World ORT


TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian entrepreneur has donated $2 million to World ORT, the largest gift ever from a Canadian to the global Jewish educational organization.

Seymour Schulich’s gift will establish the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative, which "will bring a new dimension to teaching, generating class interaction with educational software, Web sites, and other resources," according to a March 31 news release from World ORT.

The initiative, part of Kadima Mada, World ORT’s programming arm in Israel, will launch 411 "smart classrooms" in northern Israel. It will include equipment, teacher-training programs, development of learning materials, upgrades and maintenance.

Schools selected for the project have been identified by Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev as being in areas of "economic and social distress."

The classrooms will be provided with laptops that connect to a wireless network linking students’ computers to the teacher’s workstation and whiteboard. Some 40,000 students are expected to benefit from the initiative.

Teachers also will be equipped with hand-held tablet computers so they can walk around classrooms. "Smart classrooms" also will be able to access World ORT’s videoconferencing network.

"I am extremely grateful to Seymour Schulich for this outstanding donation," Robert Singer, director general and CEO of World ORT, said in a statement. "Today, education is the best investment in the future for the Jewish people and for the future of the State of Israel."

Schulich’s gift was partnered through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

The donation will be matched by an additional $9.75 million from World ORT, the Israeli ministries of education and of the Negev and Galilee, local authorities, and ORT donors.

Schulich, of Ontario, is well known for his philanthropy, notably to Canadian universities.

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