Youth Renewal Fund (YRF) today announced its new strategic alliance with program partner Darca, a leading network of Israeli high schools, in an effort to dramatically change the future of Israeli education. As part of this historic alliance, YRF will now operate in the US under the name “YRF Darca.” YRF Darca and Darca schools will be known for academic excellence, commitment to high achievement, an innovative approach to education, inspiring leadership, and professional management. In the coming school year, the partners will reach over 14,000 students and 1,400 teachers in 25 schools and centers.
Both Darca and YRF address one of Israel’s most pressing social-economic challenges: an inadequate education system. The Israeli education system is plagued by limited instruction in core subjects and minimal requirements for teacher certification. As a result, Israeli students consistently rank at the bottom of their peers from other OECD countries in reading, math and science skills. Israel also suffers from the largest gap in educational achievements between rich and poor.
The organizations target underserved communities where socio-economic status is below the national average. Previously, YRF reached children through supplemental education, providing additional instructional hours, professional development for teachers, and English language learning centers. Notable among its many successes prior to the alliance, 79% of YRF alumni have completed bagrut (Israeli high school matriculation) as compared to Israel’s national average of 50%.
Darca is a network of high schools in Israel established by the Rashi Foundation, one of the largest private foundations operating in Israel, in partnership with KIAH, the Israel arm of Alliance Israelite Universelle, a French organization founded in 1860 to safeguard the human rights of Jews around the world. Darca has unqualified support from Israel’s Ministry of Education and an independent pedagogical advisory council comprised of leading educators, intellectuals and social activists. Darca takes over full operation of a school, improving all aspects and assuming end-to-end responsibility for a child’s entire educational experience. Importantly, Darca supplements the base governmental budget with supplemental programming that is similar to YRF’s and which promotes educational excellence.
Together, YRF and Darca will combine resources, experience, and expertise to create an exponentially more impactful entity that will provide Israeli children with the foundation of learning they need to achieve social mobility and thrive in a global, knowledge-based economy. Similar to a charter school network in the United States, Darca seeks to improve schools in Israel not only by managing them more effectively, but also by creating academic excellence through innovation in pedagogy. This new strategic alliance builds upon historically successful partnerships. The Rashi Foundation and YRF have worked together for more than 12 years, and the Foundation will continue to provide support.
“In recent years, we’ve sought to increase the amount of interaction we have with students in order to increase our impact. Working with an organization that actually runs the school was the next logical step in this process. Darca, while relatively new, has achieved remarkable growth and results in a short period of time,” explained Karen Berman, CEO, YRF Darca and former Youth Renewal Fund Executive Director.
YRF, Rashi and KIAH have committed more than $53 million in philanthropic funds to the alliance to strengthen Israel’s socio-economic fabric by providing students with the high-quality education needed to succeed in a global economy. The new alliance will streamline the delivery of services and ensure that efforts are focused on the population that the organizations were established to serve.