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Archive for : education

Kickstart Education Projects: In Brooklyn and Beyond

Since it’s very first post, the blog Humans of New York – which offers snapshots of the weird, wonderful, and sometimes compellingly mundane people who live in New York City – has always been brilliant. But a couple of weeks ago, things took a turn for the even more brilliant. A photograph of a student who attends an underserved public school in Brooklyn talking about his school principal who inspired him, set in motion one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns in history. People have already donated nearly $700,000 to support kids at the student’s school in Brooklyn – and every time you refresh the page, the amount seems to have gone up by tens of thousands of dollars!

There is still time to make a donation to the campaign. Meanwhile, there lots of other amazing education-focused projects that need your help. Make a difference in a student’s life by supporting one of the following amazing projects below:

English Classes for Nicaraguan Children. Language and literacy are the most powerful tools for advancing learning on all fronts. Support this campaign’s efforts to support English instruction for young students in Nicaragua.

Build a Library Help educators at an underserved school in Denver, Colorado build a warm, welcoming library for students.

Bring the Zoo to the Students A teacher from Staten Island, New York works with wheelchair bound students who are not mobile enough to go on class trips. So she is working to bring a class trip – this time, a trip to the zoo – to them! Help make it happen.

Find more education-based projects to support at the and Indiegogo (search “education”).

Dear Class of 2014…. #RepairGrads Crowdsourced Commencement Speech is Back!

Hey graduates! (And parents, siblings, besties, and buddies of graduates…) These are exciting times, and now is your time to shine.

Around the country, graduating seniors are getting ready to walk down the aisle, receive their diploma, and head off into the wild world. But before they do that, they will listen to a commencement speech (or 7) that is supposed to launch them towards greatness. Don’t get us wrong, we loooove a good commencement speech given by some luminous figure. But we firmly believe you don’t have to be famous to inspire others. So we’re turning to you! 

Last year, Repair the World asked the class of 2013 to tweet their wisdom and inspiring words – in 140 characters or less, of course – to create a crowdsourced commencement speech like no other. Now with another school year come and gone, we’re at it again. As a member – or loved one – of the class of 2014, what would you like to say? To yourself and your classmates? To the students coming up under you? Or to the whole world?

Tweet your thoughts and wishes to this year’s grads at #RepairGrads14. The most ReTweeted wishes are eligible to win amazing prizes from Repair the World!

Need some ideas to get you started? Before twitter and viral videos, the 1997 Kurt Vonnegut commencement speech went viral. (Ok, it may be an urban myth that it was at MIT. And, yes, we know that many of you weren’t yet out of middle school – but it’s a great read). Three years ago, Stephen Colbert rocked it out at Northwestern University, while Ellen DeGeneres got everyone laughing and thinking at Tulane in 2009.

Now it’s your turn!

This Weekend, Do It For Detroit!

Do it for Detroit is not just a clever name – it’s an investment in the individuals and initiatives responding rigorously to the real resource needs in neighborhoods.

This micro-grant program funds grassroots initiatives in five key areas: Education, Environment, Health, Hunger and Art. The categories are deliberately broad and the application deliberately short, in hopes that we can cast a wide net rather than provide a particular prescription for what the city needs.

The first grant competition, in the area of Education, will take place this Saturday, February 9th at 7:00pm at the Woodbridge Community Youth Center at 1200 W. Canfield (right between the Lodge and Trumbull). The event is free and promises to make for an inspiring evening, as everyone in attendance will have a chance to vote for which of the three finalists should receive the $3000, $1000 and $500 awards.

I could wax poetic about all 37 micro-grant applications we received — about how each brings a socially entrepreneurial approach to building bright futures for young people, with potential even greater than the obstacles they are trying to solve for — but there is certainly no substitute for hearing them tell their stories Saturday. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at what they’ve got cooking:

  • MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment (MUSE). Detroit has the lowest high school graduation rate of any major city in the United States, and consequently, a small percentage of its young people go on to graduate from a four-year college or university. This monumental issue was the premise behind the founding of MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment, an academic summer enrichment program, in the summer of 2009.
    • MUSE, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was founded in Detroit, Michigan, by undergraduates at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and Denison University. One of the three co-founders was a former Detroit Public School student and knew first-hand of the great need to provide Detroit youth with academic enrichment and access to educational opportunities in order to both mitigate summer learning losses and strengthen the students’ social networks.
  • Detroit Food Academy Training. Michigan’s youth unemployment rate is the highest in the nation. This devastates the professional development of the 70,000 high school-aged youth in Detroit and separates youth from community engagement.
    • Detroit Food Academy Training is a collaboration between local high school students, food-based business, and neighborhood markets to promote food justice and build the local food economy in Detroit. The training offers a 20-week, 120-hour certificate program powered by three threads: Kitchen, Conversation, and Community. Students graduate with a polished food product, a certificate in food entrepreneurship, a network of potential employers, and acceptance into the program’s summer Entrepreneurship Camp.
  • $cholarship Detroit. Detroit schools lack the resources to steward their students successfully through the college-application and financial-aid process, jeopardizing the opportunity for capable, motivated students to access quality, affordable higher education. $cholarship Detroit aims to provide students with the educational and financial tools to succeed at the university level in four aspects:
    • Creating and presenting academically competitive students.
    • Guiding students through the scholarship application process in a meaningful and aggressive manner.
    • Provide students with the knowledge to navigate the financial-aid process to ensure that they are receiving the proper public support that they are entitled to.
    • Continue to support and motivate participants to be active in their community post high school graduation through service initiatives with Scholarship Detroit and other community organizations.

We look forward to seeing some of you on Saturday. Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to Ben Falik, Repair the World’s Manager of Detroit Service Initiatives, at [email protected].

Funding for the Di4D comes from the 2012 Pitch Ford DEtroit softball tournament.

More info:

The DI4D micro-grant competitions are managed by two Jewish community organizations:
Repair The World:

DI4D micro-grants are available to individuals, groups and organizations for programs in Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck that engage the general community in a meaningful way through volunteer service. Forthcoming events will be dedicated to hunger, the arts, health/nutrition and the environment.

Change the Chances: Become a Mentor


It’s time for you and me to have an intervention.

You? Oh, no, it’s not for you! I’m pretty sure you’re doing ok.

Sure, you’re spending 50% of your salary on rent, but let’s put it in perspective. Chances are you went to a good, or pretty good school, and that you had at least one of the following: an SAT tutor, a life-changing teacher, a coach that really cared. Those people, they were mentors. And I need you to become one, too.

Mentoring is a proven intervention that will help give every kid the chances that you had. Students with mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to begin drug use[1] and half as likely to skip school.[2] They are more accountable, and have higher self-esteem. [3] They send in college applications, and improve their grades. They’re more likely to make it to college and through college. But they need someone who has their back.

Can you become that person? Take advantage of National Mentoring Month by learning more about how your involvement in a child’s life can change their chances. Repair the World has made it easy!

We’ve partnered with iMentor , an incredible organization that builds mentoring relationships that empower students in low-income communities in New York City to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions. Students work with their mentors one-on-one, in-person and online to develop strong personal relationships, nurture a college aspiration, navigate the college application process, and build critical skills that lead to college success. iMentor supports both student and mentor with a college success curriculum, and support from their rock star staff. Best of all, they have the track record that proves you’ll be making an impact:  74% of seniors in their College Transition Program enrolled in college in 2011.

You can make a positive difference in the life of a high school student by volunteering with iMentor. Sign up to attend a February info session or sign up to become an iMentor today .

Not in NYC? We’ve got you covered. Email [email protected] to get connected to a local partner in your area.


[1] 1 Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B., and Resch, N.L. Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters . Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures (1995)

[2] McLearn, K.T., Colasanto, D., Schoen, C., & Shapiro, M.Y. (1998). Mentoring matters: A national study of adults mentoring young people. In J.B. Grossman (Ed.), Contemporary issues in mentoring (pp. 66-83). Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.

[3] McLearn, K.T., Colasanto, D., Schoen, C., & Shapiro, M.Y.

Spreading Good this Holiday Season

Giving is to Winter like sour cream & applesauce are to latkes: we hope you spread ‘em generously! Whether it’s serving meals to the hungry, supporting Sandy recovery efforts or igniting a child’s passion for reading, the festival of lights offers many ways to give. How can YOU spread good this holiday season?

In Repair the World’s hometown, thousands of people still need heat and light in their homes following hurricane Sandy. We hope you’ll help spread some good, and share some light in these darker times by giving a gift that no one – and no hurricane – should take away: education.

What can YOU give to promote literacy across the country?

TIME: The Repair the World team is hosting a HoliDay of Service on 12/9 in New York City to create educational gifts for the students of PS 253 in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn! Packed with school supplies, a new book, and a battery-operated reading lamp, these literacy kits that will be donated to the students  whose school was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Older students will use these kits over winter break to read aloud to younger students, which means each book will have a double impact! Sign up to join us (space is limited so chime in quickly!). Can’t make it to the event? Organize one of your own with this tipsheet. You can also donate books through our registry here.
BOOKS: Reach Out and Read is an incredible national organization that reaches almost 4 million (!) students each year. By “prescribing” books to their patients, pediatricians and medical professionals become education allies. You can join them by participating in our online book drive, which lets you virtually pick books to donate to local communities. Your efforts will help children build early literacy skills, making them more ready (and excited!) to read when they enter school.
GELT (MOOLAH): With low-income, public schools facing a dearth of resources, the innovators at Donors Choose have created a way to create micro-change out of pocket change. Donors Choose gives public school teachers a platform to fundraise for the specific needs of their students. Donors Choose has thousands of pages posted by teachers in all 50 states. Requests range from laptops and microscopes to basic markers and crayons, and each dollar donated goes directly to fund teacher’s projects. Search by zip code to help a teacher in your neighborhood, or donate to classrooms that have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
e-NSPIRATION: Share this post with your friends so they can get in-depth updates about how to hit the ground volunteering. If 8 (as in nights in Chanukah!) people list you as a reference when they sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get an awesome Repair the World tee – now available through our online store!

And don’t forget to check out our 8 nights of Sandy Service for tips on how your small differences can add a whole lot of light.

Chanukah: A Time to Rededicate Communities

On Chanukah, the Jewish community celebrates the rededication of the ancient Temple that was desecrated by people who did not tolerate Jews and their practices. We learn about the miracle of the oil following that military victory – but truly, the triumph of Chanukah is that the Maccabees managed to create social change. Specifically, they fought for a society that would allow them to live, learn and worship as they pleased.

Before winning that important victory, educating their young children was still a priority for the Jewish people – to the point where, when forbidden from engaging in Torah study, the Jews hid in caves and risked their lives to study and teach Torah. Today, we commemorate the determination of the Jewish people to educate their children by playing with a dreidel (a top). Jewish children would play with a dreidel when soldiers would approach them to see if they were learning.

These were the priorities, even when oppressed: education, legacy, maintaining their community.

While circumstances are very different today, we live in communities where children living in poverty do not have access to high-quality education. Communities throughout our region have encountered desecration: crime, poor academic achievement, lack of job opportunities; the list goes on and on. We can either accept this status quo, or like the Maccabees, fight to ensure that education is improved and accessible to all.

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL)’s Department of Community Engagement, through a Jewish service-learning fellowship program created by Repair the World, is launching a project that will increase impact and meaningful service opportunities for Jews living in the South. Repair the World, like the ISJL, aims to make service a more defining part of American Jewish life by infusing service-learning with Jewish sources, values and traditions.

The ISJL is in the early stages of piloting an initiative that will work closely with several congregations to develop ongoing and meaningful Jewish service-learning projects that will impact the educational experience of youth in each of their communities.

After conducting some preliminary surveys and research we decided to focus on education, because it is an area of great need in our region and of great interest to ISJL’s partner congregations. These congregations will benefit from Repair the World’s established service models and tools.

Each participating congregation will convene a group of congregants who will commit to meet monthly to discuss potential project ideas, learn about their local community and join in Jewish text studies. The outcome of these conversations is that the congregation will select a project that can meaningfully impact their community.

As we celebrate the rededication of the Temple, congregations throughout the South can envision rededicated communities where all children have access to education of the highest quality.

The ISJL seeks to assist congregations develop existing or new programs that will foster social change in their communities. Can you imagine this program in your community? If you can, please contact Malkie Schwartz at 601.362.6357 or [email protected].

Respectively, Repair the World is piloting a national education campaign aimed at connecting American young Jewish professionals as volunteer tutors and mentors assisting our nation’s students, and seeks to collaborate with the ISJL on this important endeavor.

To learn more about Repair the World and to read more about the Repair Fellowship and other service programs being implemented around the country, please visit

About Malkie Schwartz

Malkie Schwartz is the director of Department of Community Engagement at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss.

J-Serve and Repair the World Team Up to Offer Education Grants

Are you involved with a great J-Serve project that is helping to address education challenges (like literacy rates, math deficiency, and mentorship) in your community? Or do you have an awesome project idea in mind? Now’s your chance to get your idea off the ground: J-Serve (The International Day of Jewish Youth Service) and Repair the World have teamed up to offer micro-grants for creative, volunteer-focused programs supporting education and child development.

The micro-grants will range from $500-$1000 and fund J-Serve projects across the country that help to solve the problem of education inequality. (Preference will be given to programs in New York, Detroit, Baltimore and San Francisco, but all are encouraged to apply.) Sample programs might include:

  • Starting a book drive and then creating flashcards based on key vocabulary for the books that were received, packing them together as a kit for local elementary school students
  • Gathering college alumni from your local BBYO chapter to give tours of their college campus to local youth. Follow up by hosting a college prep workshop for the community!
  • Rallying your friends and community to start a peer-to-peer mentoring program.
  • Working with a local preschool to create playground graphics on the blacktop to teach letters, numbers, colors, etc. to their students.

Applications will be accepted each month on the last day of the month (i.e. Nov 30, Dec 31, Jan 31 and Feb 28), 2013. So get excited, get some friends and volunteers together, and apply! Click here to download the application. And for more information, contact campaigns[@]

Shabbat Service: Teach Your Children Well

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Ha’azinu, starts to bring the Torah’s five books to a close. The story ends with a plea from Moses to the Israelites to “teach the words with which I charge you upon your children, that they may observe faithfully all the terms of this teaching. For this is not a trivial thing for you: it is your very life; through it you shall long endure…”

Moses, it seems, is one of the Torah’s greatest champions of education. He’s specifically focused on making sure generations after him learn the lessons and commandments of the Torah. But taken more broadly, his words read like a plea for learning in general. After all, without education, how would we transmit ideas, morals, and wisdom from one generation to the next?

The “takeaway”: This week’s dvar tzedek author, Rabbi David Singer, takes Moses’ words in yet another direction. He writes, “We would be well-served to think seriously in this new year about the ways in which we educate ourselves and our children toward dedication to the pursuit of justice, and then offer holistic opportunities to put that learning into practice in communal life.” For Singer, Moses’ words invite educators – both Jewish and not, formal and informal – to think about the role that justice plays in their curricula. Holding a lone tikkun olam event or “mitzvah day” is not enough he writes. Instead, “We must also remember to educate…For social justice to become part of the Jewish fabric of the next generation, it must be a regular act and it must be integrated into and reinforced through education.”

The “to-do”: Support organizations that promote justice and philanthropic education – like Learning to Give or AJWS’s Where Do You Give tzedakah curriculum. And think about ways that you might be a champion of justice education and learning in your school or community.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.