The Israel Asper Community Action Centre – Ramot (September 2022)
Impact of Israel Asper Community Action Centre (January 2022)
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The Israel Asper Community Action Centre – Ramot – Jerusalem, Israel
In June 2007, The Asper Foundation, Jewish National Fund of Canada and the Jerusalem Foundation funded the establishment of The Israel Asper Community Action Centre in Ramot, a suburb of Jerusalem, Israel. The centre is named to honour the memory of Dr. Israel Asper, z”l, Founder of The Asper Foundation, who passed away on October 7, 2003. It is operated by the non-profit Machshava Tova and located in the Ramot Alon Community Centre.
With a finger on the pulse of the community’s needs, the Centre has grown and changed together with the neighborhood it serves. Focusing on closing the technological gap and strengthening disadvantaged groups, the Centre provides computer-oriented training and programming for thousands of Ramot residents. When first launched, the community was overwhelmingly secular and the bulk of programming was aimed at basic computer skills among children and seniors. As the Ramot neighbourhood became more strictly Orthodox and the Centre has built partnerships with numerous governmental bodies and non-profits, so the programming also has evolved.
One of the Centre’s landmark programs is EcoTech, a one-of-a-kind, three-year course, targeting grade nine-age students who have left school before graduation. Through intensive work and individual support, the program helps to build self-confidence through the development of computer and entrepreneurial skills. During the program each youth is matched with a mentor to study and prepare for the Cisco Advanced Systems Certification test. The mentors, 12 each year, are all highly-functioning volunteers with autism spectrum disorder from the National Service. The Centre trains the mentors, helps them receive Cisco certification themselves and provides them with various workshops aimed to helping them overcome their challenges such as interpersonal relationships, customer service and body language. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the mentors and teens refurbished over 1,000 computers which they then donated to the community and schools so that children could do distance learning. Impressively, fourteen of the fifteen teens that participated passed the Cisco test.
As the staff of the Centre acquired a deeper understanding of adults with special needs, they developed a wide array of programming to help them gain access to more meaningful employment through computer education.
Another need that has increased over the years is to provide the strictly Orthodox community with the training and skills they need to enter the workforce. With this in mind, the Centre now provides extensive computer training courses and workshops helping them to identify the kinds of jobs they should pursue, how to prepare resumes and how to interview for a position. Hundreds of people have already participated in these courses and the Centre has now joined forces with the Ministry of Employment to help them find employment.
The Centre, in recent years, has started providing computer-oriented programming in the neighborhood schools such as robotics, STEM programming (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and coding. During the summer months the Centre also runs computer camps for local children.
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