December 23, 2009

JDC-AMEN: Mobilizing Israeli Youth Volunteers

As Israel aspires to provide a bright, independent future for its citizens, it must develop a socially conscious society, in which there is a distinct culture of volunteerism. However, while a third of Israeli adults engage in volunteer activities, less than one in ten teens volunteers. As tomorrow's leaders who will shape Israeli society, youth must be imbued with a sense of social responsibility. Cultivating habits of community service at a young age lays the foundation for lifelong commitment to civic involvement, characterized by concern for the weak and needy.

JDC launched AMEN to mobilize young Israelis to adopt volunteerism as a way of life. AMEN rallies youth within a given city to take a leading role in local volunteer activities to meet their communities' needs. AMEN works through existing local resources to recruit new teenage volunteers, match them with fulfilling volunteer activities – even creating such opportunities if they don't exist – and set up forums for teenage volunteers to meet and support each other. Organizations working with volunteers receive training to help them motivate and retain young volunteers. AMEN creates a local volunteer system that becomes an integral part of a city, ultimately crafting Israel's next generation of leaders and active citizens who are there to assist with the country's most needy populations.

More than 50,000 teenagers are now part of the initiative and have given nearly four million hours of volunteer service to their communities.

AMEN is a partnership between JDC, the Ministry of Education, the Israel Youth Hostel Association, and Amutat Alon. AMEN also has strategic partnerships with various businesses including Intel, Sakal, the Israeli Electric Company, Cisco and Baran, as well as with universities and colleges, federations and donors. The program's expansion in Israel's north was made possible by UJC/IEC funds.

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