Strengthening Israel from the Inside

Highlights of the Federation’s 2015-2016 Work in Israel

The Federation’s Israel and Global Committee works closely with its Israel office, using our resources to strengthen Israel as a just, democratic, and shared society with equal opportunity for all. The intention is to foster leadership opportunities and support innovation, so that emerging leaders and great ideas have a part in shaping Israel’s future.

The Committee recently engaged in a strategic planning process that, over the next three years, will shift the focus of our work in Israel toward those organizations and projects whose primary mission is the strengthening of a shared society. Broadly defined, this approach will aim to break down barriers and build new social partnerships among the many sub-populations of Israeli society, thereby fostering increased understanding and opportunity for all.

There is a dire need to close social gaps in Israel, not simply by giving individuals in certain disadvantaged groups the skills and training to better navigate and integrate into Israeli society, but also by supporting programs that work to change the key institutions (within business, education, etc) in ways that will make it easier for diverse populations to achieve long-term success. This shift is an evolution of the work the Federation has been supporting, promoting, and leading for a few years now, one which has been amplified by Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin.

We strive to make leadership and innovation the hallmarks of our work. Investing in proven leaders who are championing new ideas has been an effective strategy for us, and our own leadership program, Gvanim, has been an important source of new innovative programs. The following are examples of initiatives and grantee partners that are actively creating a shared society to be proud of:

Collective Impact

The overarching goal of Collective Impact, a Federation-supported initiative, is to broadly change Israeli society by influencing the economic and social situation of Arabs in Israel. This is done by establishing a network of stakeholders among Arab and Jewish leaders who propel the business sector toward a breakthrough in Arab employment – through research, design of operative models, and a pilot stage with prominent companies. 

A major achievement of the initiative this year has been the successful engagement of five companies for a pilot stage, including:

  • Osem – one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in Israel
  • Tnuva – one of the largest food manufacturers (milk and dairy) in Israel
  • CBC (Coca Cola)
  • Amdocs
  • Deloitte Consulting

Such a variety of companies will allow for diverse job placement, from production floor manufacturing to hi-tech to consultation. These companies represent the multiple models of intervention for Arab integration into the workforce conceived within the Collective Impact vision. And each of the companies has set measurable goals and outcomes for how many Arab employees they will recruit in the next 1-2 years and are working on an adaptive model for working with these future employees. To date, there are already 70 open positions now awaiting immediate placement. In the coming year, there are expected to be thousands of placements.

Funders Coalition

A core need in Israel today is the development of shared vocabulary and values that reinforce the shared experience of all Israel’s citizens, while reducing feelings of alienation, intolerance, and hostility. The Funders Coalition, a Federation-supported initiative, aims to build new social partnerships in Israel. In 2015, it grew from a small number of philanthropists into a much larger group, representing Israel's diversity (Jews from the political left and right, religious and secular, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi), all rallying around this joint mission.

In partnership with the government’s Presidential Residence, the Coalition is creating a diverse task force working in a range of roles, with the capacity to make targeted impact within various communities. Twenty individuals have already been recruited for the task force, which will involve an intensive 18-month process set to begin in October 2016. Additionally, the Coalition has recruited a group of thought leaders from all segments of Israeli society to serve as an advisory board for the task force, providing feedback and inspiration.

Capacity Building Grants

Before we initiated capacity building grants this year, we conducted a thorough needs assessment with our grantees, learning which skills are most helpful and relevant for their organizations. Our goal was to cluster organizations that share a common need around the same topic, both for economic use of resources and to strengthen ties among the organizations, encouraging joint collaboration and learning. After mapping the grantees’ needs, we located the most appropriate providers who were able to give the best possible response to the organizations’ needs. Common requests of the organizations included:

  1. Resource development beginners group (facilitated by Galit Desheh, Gvanim graduate)
  2. Resource development advanced group (facilitated by the Merom Group)
  3. Creating a mentoring system (facilitated by Olim Beyahad)
  4. Household financial management (facilitated by Pa’amonim)

The groups all took part in parallel processes of group learning and individual work. The 15 organizations involved have been extremely positive so far regarding the process and note that this kind of investment and assistance is atypical and valuable.

As a kick-off to the capacity building grants, for the first time ever, we convened all of the Federation’s Israeli grantees on the last day of Chanukah for an intensive workshop on the emerging New Shared Society paradigm that is at the center of President Rivlin’s social agenda, and a focal point of the Federation’s grantmaking in Israel. With 42 grantees and partners in a single room, they began to analyze how the organizations connect to the changing realities of Israeli society and explored new partnerships and initiatives among the grantees that may accelerate their work. The conference dovetailed with the new Federation Forward roadmap, calling for partnership and strategic collaboration to achieve the greatest possible impact.

More than 42 Federation grantees gathered to collaborate and contemplate the New Shared Society paradigm


Mifras, a Federation grantee based in Kfar Saba, seeks to enable school principals and their teams to improve the quality and professionalism of the educational system in Israel through educational entrepreneurship incubators, with the purpose of promoting entrepreneur networks and entrepreneurship. Mifras has evolved impressively this year from one cohort of 15 school principals, to four groups throughout the country, with about 60 school principals from all sectors of Israeli society.

The Israeli Ministry of Education has also decided to partner with Mifras, and is providing matching grants and increasing its involvement. This allows Mifras to scale its work and begin to address specific issues such as air pollution and parent involvement in schools. Mifras has also launched a course at Tel Aviv University designed to train educators to be entrepreneurs. Finally, Mifras is looking beyond Israel’s borders in its quest to promote creative thinking in the field of education. It has begun a movement to study multiculturalism within schools globally, and to address universal issues in education, such as absorption of immigrants into school systems.


Injaz, a Federation grantee based in Nazareth, has been working steadily to facilitate a sustainable economic base for Arab local authorities in the Western Galilee (Tamra, Sha'ab, and Kabul) and strengthen the regional economic network that Injaz helped to establish there. Those efforts include promotion of a joint economic initiative, featuring bi-monthly thematic expos reflective of the towns' legacy and supporting local products.

Two seminars were held, in August and November, where Injaz experts focused on the challenges facing Arab local authorities regarding economic development, discussing both obstacles and possible paths to overcoming them.

Injaz has been helping the towns explore possible funding sources for the initiative, giving them the tools to fundraise as they seek the support of national and international foundations, as well as local entrepreneurs.

We are currently helping Injaz move forward with various government ministries in order to garner state support for the initiative. In addition, we were encouraged by the government's recent announcement of its new economic plan to allocate 15 billion shekels for the development of Arab local authorities. As a result, Injaz is now integrating this promising new opportunity into its project strategy.

The Aguda

The Aguda: The Israeli National LGBT Tast Force, a Federation grantee based in Tel Aviv, provides a psychosocial service program for the LGBT community with the Federation grant. Five social workers are extending therapy services to LGBT young people in two areas across the country, serving 75 people per year. Because there is far more demand for these therapy services than can be met, the Aguda has started group therapy sessions, which have helped provide critical peer empowerment.

Additionally, it has become a 20+ year tradition that the Aguda hosts a Passover Seder to support LGBT people who can’t celebrate with their families, and all those who want to celebrate together. This year, 180 people celebrated freedom with them. 

180 LGBT community members celebrate the Passover Seder and freedom for all


Hillel – The Right to Choose, a Federation grantee based in Jerusalem, is expanding its successful Employment Facilitation program, which seeks to integrate Yotzim (ultra-Orthodox Jews who have left the fold) into the Israeli workforce. In the first half of the funding period so far, 205 new participants have received assessments and individualized resources for job hunting, interview skills, referrals to occupational therapists, and one-on-one counselling and mentoring.

Of those 205, 96 were also referred to outside agencies or consultants to augment their ongoing Hillel participation or to advance their specific plans. In addition, 10 Yotzim are currently in intensive individual employment coaching with professional employment consultants offering volunteer services to Hillel.

Another new programming element is “employment tours,” whereby Yotzim visit an Israeli company and learn about the field, corporate culture, employment expectations, and available opportunities (for example, the group visited an investment firm, Meitav Dash). Future tours are also planned in the IT sector and elsewhere.

Thirteen single-mother participants are also receiving extra workforce-related services tailored to their specific needs, with another 17 mothers in educational programs on workforce preparation. An employment weekend retreat workshop was held for 24 mothers and 42 children, with additional workshops planned in 2016.

To learn more about the Federation's work in Israel, contact Siggy Rubinson or call 415.512.6429. 


June 16, 2016