Issue Areas

SVF makes grants in three issue areas: Economic Development, Education, and Emerging Issues. Each is outlined below.

Although Arab citizens of Israel represent 20% of the population of Israel, their economic output amounts to only about 8% of Israel’s GDP. They have significantly lower rates of participation in the employment market, and higher rates of poverty than the Jewish population. The Government of Israel has recognized that failing to close the socio-economic gaps between Jews and Arabs could jeopardize Israel’s long term economic growth.

Over the past decade, the GOI began increasing its investment in the Arab sector in order to accelerate the integration of Arab citizens into the mainstream economic life of the State of Israel. SVF works to complement Israeli governmental efforts and, where appropriate, provides matching funds to leverage government funds. Within the field of Economic Development, SVF targets initiatives that:

  • Integrate Arab university graduates and trained professionals into public, academic, and private sectors;
  • Provide job training and placement;
  • Increase representation of Arab women and men in business and economic development activities;
  • Strengthen cooperation;
  • Build capacity and support economic development at the municipal level; and
  • Promote local business and social entrepreneurship in the Arab community.

Click here for a list of current economic development grantees.

Under the Ministry of Education, Arab and Jewish public school students are mostly educated in separate schools. Although much of the core curriculum is the same, Jews are taught in Hebrew and Arabs are taught in Arabic. There are significant performance gaps between Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking schools. Educational gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs are evident from early childhood through higher education.

Promoting equality in education is critical to breaking the cycles of poverty in Israel. In recent years the Israeli government has recognized the importance of closing this gap and has increased funding to provide better quality education in Arab schools.

Within the area of education, SVF focuses its grant making on three goals:

  • Promoting high-quality educational opportunities for Arab students, teachers, and schools;
  • Allowing Arab students to access and be successful in higher education and in employment; and
  • Promoting shared society between Arabs and Jews in the educational environment.

Arab students cannot pursue higher education or find good jobs in Israel unless they are fluent in Hebrew, so SVF has supported two pilot programs for improving the teaching of Hebrew in Arab schools, both of which have been adopted by the GOI with the intent to scale them up to all Arab schools. SVF supports gap-year programs that focus on preparation for university and on volunteerism.  Recognizing the importance of working on multiple levels, SVF also supports work with teachers, principals and academics on education for shared society.

Click here for a list of current education grantees.

The Emerging Issues Committee identifies emerging issues and trends and develops strategic opportunities to serve the field.

In 2013, for example, MALAG, Israel’s Council of Higher Education, began a multi-year strategy to increase Arab-Israeli students’ access to, and success in, Israel’s colleges and universities. SVF developed an ongoing forum of NGO partners and university-based program coordinators to implement MALAG’s ambitious program. That forum meets regularly to discuss and share effective approaches to building shared campuses.

Recently, SVF identified a gap in the field of shared society programming: a failure to capitalize on and support the emerging leadership potential of people-to-people program graduates. To seed programs to bridge that gap, SVF identified and funded three shared society organizations with great potential to build alumni programs.

These pilot grants have three initial objectives.

  • Enhance organizational capacity to support young people committed to shared society values;
  • Provide graduates with ongoing leadership opportunities to serve as ambassadors for shared society values in their communities, on campuses, and beyond; and
  • Evaluate various engagement methodologies and share lessons learned with other organizations in the field.

This strategic approach—weaving together programming, organizational capacity building, and enrichment of the entire field—reflects SVF’s commitment to multi-level social change. Working through the Emerging Issues Committee provides SVF with much needed flexibility and responsiveness.

Click here for a list of current emerging issues grantees.