Today The Jewish Education Project launched an ambitious new initiative to transform teen travel to Israel. Known as RootOne, the initiative is seeded with a $20 million gift from The Marcus Foundation and will help tens of thousands of teens travel there each summer with major subsidies for trip participants. We’re thrilled to partner with five leading youth serving organizations (YSOs)— BBYO, USY, Ramah, Union of Reform Judaism (URJ), and NCSY—to elevate their Israel experiences and to make them more affordable for more families.
Beyond increasing the number of teens and affordability of these trips, RootOne is an investment in the unique, immersive learning these trips provide. The initiative will support new trip curricula and offer deeper pre and post-trip engagement to strengthen participants’ Jewish identities and connections to community and Israel. We’ve brought on The iCenter for Israel Education to train all American staff who will lead trips, using their similar, proven model through which they train Birthright Israel staff. The iCenter also will help prepare Israeli teens who will join the trips since we know how impactful those peer-to-peer relationships are.
For decades, The Jewish Education Project has supported and resourced educators to deliver meaningful Israel education. But simply put, RootOne is a game-changer that takes these efforts to an entirely new level. It has the potential to impact a generation of young people. During the formative teen years, these trips can set a teen on a path for ongoing, meaningful Jewish engagement filled with lifelong friendships. They can cement a person’s connection to Jewish community, and they are integral to developing Jewish leaders who care deeply about Israel and the Jewish People.
The first RootOne trips are expected to leave summer 2021, with RootOne vouchers lowering the price point by $3,000 per participant. We expect to increase teens traveling to Israel on these trips by nearly 40% year over year. By 2025, we expect more than 10,000 Jewish teens will travel to Israel on RootOne peer programs every summer. And by 2030, that becomes 20,000 teens.
I invite you to check out the new website RootOne.org to learn more. Please share with your friends and colleagues. And we look forward updating you as this exciting initiative takes flight