The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has declared social involvement as one of its cornerstones. Too often universities are perceived as detached from their surrounding populations and from day-to-day difficulties of the greater community. By combining the University’s physical and human resources, which are highly suited for this endeavor, we can positively impact the population of underprivileged youth.
The OFIE program targets youth, 14-18 years old, who come from underprivileged background, live in boarding schools throughout Jerusalem, and have weak family support. The program operates through highly motivated and skilled Hebrew University students and staff who undergo extensive training and preparation before and during their yearly activity. The activity is comprised of several elements: • Personal mentoring: This program creates a beneficiary relationship between a university student and a single girl or boy. The program aims to improve youngsters’ academic functioning, while also becoming a role model through a big brother\sister connection. • Volunteering groups: A program for personal and group empowerment helps youth create their own volunteer initiatives in the community. Members of each group choose and produce their own community service project. As a byproduct, they experience themselves as “givers” and not only as recipients of services. • Special events: Once monthly, we offer the youth involved in the program a special educational and/or social event (visits to museums, cultural events, field trips). These events aim to break up the routine and to expand the youngsters’ cultural horizons. • University study groups: Through this program we offer an adapted platform through which the youngsters are able to sample the “university experience” by taking University classes which familiarize the youngster with academic topics, such as business management, psychology, political sciences, etc.