$50 million initiative aiming to better poor Israeli schools


NEW YORK (JTA) — The Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network and Israel’s Education Ministry have launched a $50 million campaign to improve 50 schools on Israel’s periphery.

The Sci-Tech Network, formerly known as ORT Israel, includes more than 180 schools that focus on technological training and high-tech curricula. The Education Ministry will match dollar for dollar up to $25 million to bring 50 schools in Israel’s poorest regions into the network, the group announced Tuesday night at a dinner honoring philanthropist Edith Everett.

The schools will be equipped with new curricula, tools, infrastructures and technologies to provide students living in these economically lagging areas with marketable science and technology backgrounds and credentials critical to their own futures and that of Israel.

The event Tuesday marked the launch of the American fundraising branch of the Sci-Tech Network, which was forced to rebrand itself following a lengthy divorce from the international network of Jewish vocational schools, World ORT. The two groups battled for nearly two years over the usage of the name ORT, with Israel ORT eventually losing the right to use the ORT name for fundraising purposes.

Everett became involved with what is now the Israel Sci-Tech Network some 36 years ago when she and her late husband, Henry, opened with the organization a school in the town of Hatzor in 1974.

“The Sci-Tech mandate is to go to the hard places and to decrease the gap between the wealthy and the poor,” Everett said in a statement released by the organization. “We hope the improvement will spur similar efforts throughout the country. The key is to offer a systemic solution, not just a series of one-time projects.”

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