Monday, January 25, 2016


Some of you who have written Anonymously have demonstrated an alarming ignorance of the work of the Jewish Agency/JDC/World ORT. So I asked the beneficiaries if they would be interested in spelling out some of their programs executed on our behalf with our federations' unrestricted allopcations. 

Here is the World ORT response:
"First, ORT is providing education and skills to vulnerable populations around the world just as it has since 1880. Today the largest program is in Israel where ORT is transforming the education system in full partnership with the Ministry of Education working primarily in the geographic and socio-economic periphery of the country since 2007. In 2008 ORT introduced the first interactive whiteboards in Israel schools leading to a $28 million project funded 50-50 between ORT and the Ministry of Education. In the project ORT installed 1,000 such classes and provided 120 hours of training to all the teachers in the schools in how to use the whiteboards properly in education. The project was evaluated by the prestigious Henrietta Szold Institute which documented dramatic changes in attitudes and achievements of the students and in the methods of teaching. Core funds were used to guarantee the match of the government and  to sustain an infrastructure of ORT in order to implement this project over a five year period.  

In 2010 ORT opened the Alex & Betty Schoenbaum Education, Science and Cultural Campus in Kiryat Yam using a donation of $5 million to leverage an $18 million dollar transformational project. The results in Kiryat Yam took the rate of students passing the bagrut from below 50% in 2008 to over 90% in 2013. Today instead of more than 200 students leaving Kiryat Yam to study in other schools, over 300 students now come to Kiryat Yam schools because of the quality of the education. Core funds were used to sustain an infrastructure over the 2 years of the project.
In 2011 ORT was asked to assume responsibility for what s possibly the only program of its type in the world – educating kids in the hospital more than 3 days, something that is mandated by the Israeli government. Today ORT runs the entire hospital network of 35 children’s hospital schools for kids in the hospital more than 3 days, and provides in home education for kids unable to attend school. Last year this education was provided to 120,000 children in hospitals and over 6,000 children confined to homes. Core funds are used to sustain an infrastructure since its inception to manage the project, train the teachers and to provide the necessary resources beyond the salaries paid by the government.

In 2012  ORT introduced its You-Niversity project in 5 cities on the periphery of Israel in a 50-50 partnership with the Ministry of Education. This after-school project introduces the students to STEM education in an informal way. The courses are typically taught by university professors which for most of the 6-8th graders may be the first time they ever came in contact with a professor or had any idea that they too might be able to go to a university if they studied hard. Core funds are used to sustain an infrastructure since its inception to manage the project. The project was so successful that the government asked ORT to double the capacity in the five cities and then in 2014 ORT was asked by the Jerusalem Municipality to introduce one in East Jerusalem to serve the Arab students and one in Jerusalem to serve the Haredi students. Again both have been enormously successful, and once again core funds are used to match the government funds (short of the funds ORT is able to raise from donors) and maintain an infrastructure to be able to manage the project.

In 2015 ORT was asked by the Ministry of Education to assume responsibility for 3 youth villages and schools in those villages that today serve over 1,000 students from broken homes, students with only one parent or in many cases no parents. Likely in the future more schools will be added to this new “network”. ORT is about to launch a $5 million fundraising campaign to cover the needs in the first phase. Core funds will be used to provide some of the needs for which funds are not raised and to maintain an infrastructure to manage the network.

And there is more in Israel, but that isn’t the only place that ORT works. In the FSU ORT manages 17 Jewish day schools with over 7,000 students. These schools are considered among the best schools in  the FSU. The schools operate under a 3 way partnership. The local government pays for the secular subjects. The Israeli Ministry of Education pays for the Jewish studies. ORT funds are used to make the schools the best possible schools which is what attracts the parents to the school in the first place. In the entire FSU the ORT schools are the only Jewish schools open all Jews according to the Israeli Law of Return. For most of these 7,000 students their Jewish education and introduction to Israel starts at the school, not at home from their parents or grandparents. Without this network in a couple of generations there would be no Jewish community left in the FSU. As less and less donations are made for these schools ORT uses core funds to fill in the gaps.

While these are the larger uses of core funds it should be noted that as crises occur such as what’s happening in the Ukraine ORT needs to have some flexibility in unrestricted funds to rapidly respond with increased security or to meet other needs.

Finally, it is instructive to know exactly how much we are speaking about in core funds when we look at the budget of ORT. Last year the entire budget of World ORT was about $50 million. Roughly $43 million was donor designated for projects or represents government funds that were accessed as part of the partnerships for different projects. Of the remaining $7 million the federation system provided $2.6 million in core funds or slightly over 1/3rd. That $2.6 million is not a misprint. It should further be noted that World ORT’s O/H is dangerously low at about 6% with almost all of the O/H coming from core (unrestricted)  funds."
Having read the critical Comments, too often incoherent,  I fear that the facts will be ignored or derided by those who "know better" when, in reality, they know nothing at all. Let's hope that I am wrong.

Our thanks to World ORT for its dedication to its People-building work.



RWEX said...

To the Anonymous Commentator whose Comment I just rejected: if you would wish to attach some facts on which you have based your strong opinion to your Comment, maybe I could publish it. Have you any?

Anonymous said...

"Without this network in a couple of generations there would be no Jewish community left in the FSU. "
Really? Someone should tell JAFI, JDC, Chabad, all the local organizations that they're doing it wrong.