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New initiative aims to boost teen travel to Israel

An ambitious new initiative will lower the cost of teen travel to Israel, aiming to help tens of Jewish youth travel there each summer for a host of transformational and meaningful experience. 

Led by The Jewish Education Project, the initiative, known as RootOne (RootOne.org), received a $20 million seed gift from The Marcus Foundation to provide major subsidies for trip participants, while also investing in trip curricula and experiences, as well as deeper pre- and post-trip engagements to strengthen participants’ Jewish identities and connections to Israel before they begin college.

Five Jewish youth organizations – BBYO, United Synagogue Youth (USY), Ramah, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and National Council of Religious Youth (NCSY) – are working with RootOne to elevate and increase participation in their Israel travel programs.

Through RootOne, the organizations will receive subsidies – called “RootOne vouchers” – to lower their point by $3,000 per participant on their trips. RootOne aims to increase teens traveling to Israel on these trips by nearly 40% each year. By 2025, more than 10,000 Jewish teens are expected to travel to Israel on RootOne peer programs every summer. And by 2030, that becomes 20,000 teens.

Says Bernie Marcus, chairman of the Marcus Foundation, “Over the next decade, The Jewish Education Project and their partners can inspire tens of thousands of teens, helping prepare them to be Jewish leaders in college and proud supporters of Israel and in turn changing the trajectory of American Jewish life.”

The iCenter for Israel Education, the primary educational advisor for RootOne, will train all American staff to lead trips, using a similar model to what The iCenter currently uses to train Birthright Israel staff. The iCenter also will develop trip curricula as well as pre- and post-program engagement, will help prepare Israeli teens who will join the trips, and will ensure that any existing training programs use best-in-class newly created resources.

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