Bakehila (“In the community”) runs educational programming in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Jerusalem with the goal to raise student academic achievement while promoting personal and social growth and participation. The broader mission is to actualize the child’s potential and ability to transcend social-economic limitations in their lives. Employing a holistic approach, Bakehila staff along with pre-army, year-of-service volunteers work with the students, their teachers, principals and parents in order to reinforce the students’ success. Currently the program reaches 3,000 children in the 4th-8th grades in Katamon, Gilo, Neve Yaacov, Pisgat Ze'ev, Talpiot and Beit Zafafa. The programming supports the children throughout the day and after school.
The main projects are:
Unique In-School Program: Bakehila uses a unique interventional model in an attempt to minimize school dropouts by strengthening the learning and social skills of disadvantaged students. This models focuses on basic subjects (math, English and Hebrew), and is operated by the organization's service year volunteers [Shinshinim] that serve as teaching aides. Some of the children in the program receive several additional one-on-one tutoring hours. Every volunteer devotes about 20 hours a week to the class. We also conduct special learning marathons throughout the year. The Shinshinim also initiate unique activities for the students during school hours.
Learning and Enrichment Centers: We operate 11 learning centers that cater several hundred children and teenagers both educationally and socially. The centers operate in partnership with the schools according to their syllabus and needs, are open after school hours, during which the children receive a hot meal, educational reinforcement and enrichment activities, all in an encompassing and supportive atmosphere. Each learning center employs a center manager, professional teachers, Shinshinim and other volunteers.
Youth work: In cooperation with the Community Board and the Youth Unit at the Jerusalem municipalities, we operate community leadership oriented youth groups [Madatz groups] in an effort to promote youth leadership and responsibility. The idea is to get the teenagers acquainted with their neighborhoods so that during the year they'll want to lead changes and processes in their area. Furthermore, Our Madazim youth program leads young teens to run activity groups for younger participants.
Parents and Children: Parents' involvement in their children's education is one of the main tools in contributing to a children's success in school and to their belief in their ability to succeed in life as adults. For this reason, all our projects aspire to involve the parents in their children's educational process, and we also conduct several projects aimed directly at parents such as parents-children play rooms, workshops, etc.
Guidance and Empowerment of ShinShinim: Every year, Bakehila admits around 50 ShinShinim that devote their time to working on different projects, from school programs, operating learning and enrichment centers, parent-children playrooms and working with teenagers in the after school hours. We closely guide and empower our volunteers with a unique model we developed, which we use to guide other organizations on ways to mentor volunteers.
We run a unique curriculum for our volunteers once a week, in which they learn various topics that deal with political, social, economical issues as wells as Judaism and universal values in order to nurture civil leadership and activism. We run a similar program for the ShinShinim of the Scouts in Jerusalem.