Youth and Philanthropy Initiative
An academic philanthropy program with lasting impact
By Yael Jakubovic, Bnei Akiva Schools, Marketing, Recruitment and Alumni Services
In conjunction with their Careers course, Grade 10 & 11 students at Ulpana and Or Chaim respectively participated in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (Y.P.I.), an academic philanthropy program founded by the Toskan Casale Foundation. At this point, Bnei Akiva Schools is the only Jewish school in Toronto to participate in the program.
Y.P.I. is a combination of in-class learning and practical, hands-on experience. Students are given the skills to assess community needs and make grants to a grassroots charitable organization of their choice. Students visit the charity, meet with members of the organization and have the opportunity to ask questions. They then prepare a multi-media presentation demonstrating the benefits of their charity to a panel of judges comprised of teachers and past Y.P.I. winners who decide which group’s charity will receive the $5,000 prize award.
In April, Bnei Akiva Schools hosted the finalists' presentations at both schools. Four finalist groups presented at each school, making the case for their charity. At Or Chaim, the group representing Circle of Care; Meals on Wheels won $5,000 for their charity. At Ulpana, the finalists representing Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids with cancer, were awarded the $5,000 grant.
Several representatives from Y.P.I. attended the presentations because, over the last seven years of participation, Bnei Akiva Schools has distinguished itself for the calibre of student performances. Also in attendance were the International Operations Manager of Y.P.I. and a Government Consultant who is responsible for allocating government funds towards this initiative.
Another important aspect to note is the lasting impact of this project. Students often continue their relationship with their charity after the project itself. For example, two years ago, a group of Ulpana students did their Y.P.I. project on the Bikur Cholim organization. Now, two years later, these students are in Grade 12 and are on the Chessed Committee of Student Council. These students have carried out several projects in support of Bikur Cholim including donating the proceeds from their Annual Mother Daughter Night. It just goes to show that a project like this has lasting educational impact!
The Y.P.I. final celebration took place on May 24/12 where hundreds of student finalists from across Toronto gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to hear inspirational speeches from philanthropists and understand the importance of their work.
Bnei Akiva Schools receive services and support from the Centre for Jewish Education, UJA Federation's educational department, dedicated to strengthening, enriching and promoting the quality of Jewish education in the Greater Toronto Area.