Benardete Bridge To College

The Luna and Selim Benardete Bridge to College Fund empowers at-risk teens across Israel.

With generous support from the fund established by Luna and Selim Benardete and their family, ISEF has been able to expand and enhance its Bridge to College projects in five locations – the blue-collar city of Nesher near Haifa, a struggling immigrant neighborhood in Holon (south of Tel Aviv), as well as distressed neighborhoods in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Beersheva.

ISEF’s brightest university scholars from Israel’s periphery are providing individualized, intensive tutoring and mentoring support, four hours a week, to some 150 at-risk teens,grades 10-12, who were deemed at risk of failing to graduate or dropping out.

In Israel, a high school diploma (bagrut) is essential–first, to get a good posting during army service, and later, to gain admission to college or university and achieve social and economic mobility. Sadly, for many young Israelis, earning their diploma is a near-impossible goal; in immigrant and underserved areas of Israel, less than half manage to graduate, and less than 15% get to college. So five poverty-area high schools around the country are partnering with ISEF to boost the chances of success for their most vulnerable teens.

Moved by these teens’ struggles, and seeking to make a real difference in the lives of children, Luna and Selim Benardete established a dedicated fund in their name, which supports all the youngsters enrolled in this project and helps empower them to reach the goal of obtaining their high school diploma.

The personal involvement of an ISEF student mentor has a powerful impact on her pupil

ISEF scholars, hailing from marginalized communities themselves, are relatable role models and mentors for at-risk teens. They work closely with participants and their families to provide academic support, enabling them to pass their graduation exams and get their diplomas. ISEF’s scholars also empower these teens to see the vital importance of higher education to their future.

ISEF’s student mentors also lead group social programs: values clarification workshops, group community service days, and crucial field trips, including spending a full day on a nearby university campus. Even more, our students become these teens’ trusted confidants–like Big Brothers and Sisters.

ISEF’s “Bridge to College” Project has doubled in size and impact, thanks to the visionary generosity of the Benardete family. Nearly all (90%) of the 2017 graduating class passed their exams and got their diplomas! This is an amazing result for children who were deemed at risk of dropping out of school. The Luna and Selim Benardete Bridge to College Fund is truly making a difference in many young lives.

Participants in ISEF’s Bridge to College Program in Nesher

Below: Photos from the Luna and Selim Benardete Bridge to College Fund Project in Nesher
(Click on thumbnails to view full size images.)