The Tulsa-based Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has announced that it is co-sponsoring an initiative with the Samberg Family Foundation to help Teach For America corps members add Jewish context and values to their secular work as teachers in the United States.
As part of the REALITY Israel Experience program, forty Teach for America teachers will be flown to Israel to learn firsthand about the Israeli educational system and the country's approach to national and community service. Participants in the program will spend time with young Israelis involved in community service programs and will also meet with the country's top service leaders.
At least 10 percent of current Teach For America corps members self-identify as Jewish. Research has shown that young Jews in the United States are twice as likely as other Americans to do service work. At the same time, long-term service experiences are becoming more common and attractive, with interest in programs such as Teach For America, which has seen applications rise 42 percent in the past year, growing rapidly as a result. REALITY is an attempt to connect the interest in national service with the Jewish values that encourage such work.
"This is an incredible leadership development opportunity for Teach for America corps member participants," said TFA vice president of faith-community outreach Nicole Baker Fulgham. "In Israel, they will have the ability to reflect on their role as teachers, and deepen their understanding of the work they have been doing to improve educational outcomes for students in our lowest-income communities. "This is also an unprecedented chance for our corps members to connect to similar work being done in Israel, where there is a very strong social-service sector."