Israeli Social Entrepreneur Wins 1.4m NIS Grant

Didi Silberman, a young Israeli social entrepreneur connected to both PresenTense and the ROI Community, has won a 1.4 million NIS grant, jointly funded by Israel’s National Insurance Institute’s (Bituach Leumi) Children and Teenagers-at-Risk fund and Bezeq. Silberman’s project is at the nexus of environmental activism, technology education and hesed.

The project, Eco Tech, was founded two years ago, through the Machshava Tova, and works with youth at risk, training them to refurbish old computers collected from local companies, and teaching them practical skills as well as life skills. This grant will enable Eco Tech to expand and open three more computer labs, reaching 120 youth at risk, upgrading more than 1000 computers that will be donated to underprivileged families. When the project is in full swing it will provide access to computers to 5,000 people each year.

Silberman launched EcoTech after participating in the inaugural cohort of PresenTense’s Jerusalem Fellowship in 2009-2010, a 5-month program which empowers young social entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge to launch ventures to impact the local Jerusalem community. And, this week, she is participating in the 2011 ROI Community Summit.

Brachie Sprung, PresenTense’s Director of Israel Fellowships, said, “An innovator and community leader, Didi came to PresenTense’s Jerusalem Fellowship with a transformative idea to help youth at risk. We were able to help her hone in on her business model, market analysis, and networking skills, and five months later she had already launched the program to reach her first group of teens.”

Justin Korda, ROI Community executive director added, “This initiative is yet another example of how organizations that support Jewish innovation and social entrepreneurship can work in tandem to maximize impact. PresenTense fellows, like Didi, have proven themselves as some of the Jewish World’s most promising leaders. At ROI, we’re very proud to have these innovators as members of our Community.”