Within the past two days, Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry – in partnership with the Jewish Agency – has offered $2 million for a high-school initiative to compliment Birthright Israel and MASA.

Here’s more from Haviv Rettig Gur in this morning’s Jerusalem Post:

At a meeting last week that included agency chairman Natan Sharansky, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen, two years of campaigning for recognition and funding from the government came to fruition as Lapid was formally offered government funds to help offset the cost to participants.

“This is an important program, and we haven’t paid it enough attention until now,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

The developing plan calls for combined government-agency funding totaling some $20m., at a rate of $1,000 per participant once the 20,000-participant figure is reached.

While $1,000 is only a small dent in the cost of participation, which can easily reach $5,000 and higher, Shavit believes government participation will enable easier fundraising both for the member organizations and for the participants themselves.

“We believe that once the government gets into this and gives it formal recognition, it will be easier to get donors,” he said. “You can’t overstate the importance of recognition. It will fundamentally change Lapid’s relationship with the Jewish world.”