“With schools closed in Israel, SAE’s Student Assistance Fund has never been more indispensable or more widely used.”
The fundamental mission of the Society for Advancement of Education, Jerusalem, since its founding in the early 1960’s to fulfill the vision of David Ben Gurion, has been to provide a top-flight high school education to gifted students from disadvantaged communities.
As a result, hundreds of students from underserved communities throughout Israel live during the school year in special SAE residences where they receive board, lodging and the academic and social support of a trained, dedicated and caring staff.
The government-imposed requirement that all schools and residences in Israel be closed to combat the spread of COVID-19 has dramatically impacted SAE’s educational institutions.
To continue educating students, each SAE high school has launched sophisticated remote learning classes, both “live” classes via Zoom conferencing and other distant learning modules with distributed class materials or resources from the Internet.
Since many of the students in SAE residences come from low-income families, the requirement that all students living in residences return home has placed a significant economic burden on many students and their families.exacerbated their distress. Some lack the resources for even food and other basic necessities.
Society for Advancement of Education has stepped into the breach and is providing emergency financial assistance to many students through the Student Assistance Fund. But the demands have never been greater and the Fund is running low.
SAE has already approved applications for urgent assistance from more than 100 students, providing vital basic needs for at least one month. And more applications continue to arrive daily.
Here are some examples of families of students from educational residences who have already received emergency grants:
- Two siblings, one in 8th grade and the other in 9th grade, come from a family with divorced parents. Their mother has schizophrenia, and they have not had contact with their father since they were babies. During the past few years, the children’s mother married an ultra-orthodox man, and became very religious herself. The family is in an extremely difficult financial situation, as the mother does not work, and the father studies full-time at a kolel (a yeshiva for adult men), receiving a minimal stipend.
- Two sisters living in a residence, one in 9th grade, the other in 10th grade, come from a family in extremely difficult socio-economic circumstances. Their father is addicted to drugs, and the family’s situation is so dire that the girls’ payment to live at the residence has been waived. One has been living at the residence for four years, the other, for three years.
- The divorced mother of an 8th grade boy from the south of the country doesn’t work. She has two other children and lives on welfare and National Insurance stipends. The family’s situation is so extreme that, when the mother brought the child to the residence at the beginning of the year, the residence’s director provided her with bus fare to return home.
The assistance provided to these families through the Student Assistance Fund is significant. It helps the students and their families cope during these most challenging times.