Hillel International and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Boston’s Jewish Federation, have announced a national partnership to expand CJP’s Israel Campus Initiative (IACT – Inspired, Active, Committed and Transformed), which builds on the success of Birthright by providing support and inspiration to students before and after their trip. The newly expanded program will recruit more college-age Jewish students to participate in the Taglit-Birthright Israel Program and better engage these young adults in Jewish life upon their return from Israel.
The national expansion is being fully funded for the next two years through a generous gift of more than $3.1 million from Edward Fein, a New York native who now lives in Nevada. A two-year pilot program will begin this fall at University of Florida, University of Texas-Austin, The Ohio State University, University of Maryland and University of California-Santa Barbara.
CJP’s IACT program, which funds Birthright coordinators who focus on recruitment and follow-up, currently serves 12 campuses in New England: Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Tufts, Wellesley, Northeastern, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Williams, Amherst, Clark, Brown and Boston University. The goal of the new national partnership is to expand to 50 campuses over the next five years.
Since IACT began in 2007, 80 percent of IACT alumni are “sustainably engaged” in Jewish campus life. In 2013, more than 400 Boston-area Birthright alumni returned to Israel for short-term service trips and 200 core activists were trained. There are currently 1,000 IACT active alumni on New England campuses.