The Marcus Foundation gave an additional $60 million three-year grant to expand the RootOne teen Israel travel initiative. That is triple the $20 million the foundation gave in seed money in 2020. Launched last September by The Jewish Education Project, RootOne significantly lowers the cost of teen travel to Israel and provides meaningful pre-and post-trip learning experiences so teens connect with Jewish peers and form their own Jewish communities.
This summer, more than 4,000 teens are on RootOne trips run by more than 20 teen organizations and summer camps; the largest trip providers are NCSY, BBYO, URJ, Ramah, USY, Young Judaea and several JCC camps.
“This grant is our direct response to the studies saying teens’ connection to Israel is waning, or that Jewish identity among youth has declined,” said Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation. “Especially as antisemitism on campuses and across the globe increases, we must develop a generation of proud Jews connected to Israel and the Jewish people. RootOne is designed to do exactly this. We hope other funders join our efforts to remake teen Israel travel at this critical time.”
Even one month ago, summer travel to Israel on this scale seemed unlikely. But a partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel helped navigate Israel’s strict COVID rules and regulations. Registration has been robust, and most trips are sold out, according to a press release about the new grant.
The initiative creates a pipeline connecting teens to Jewish experiences from high school to college. The Marcus Foundation, as a major supporter of Hillel, will help to streamline the connection between the two stages, according to the release.