Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and City Councilmember Jose Huizar joined Jewish Federation President John Fishel at Roosevelt High School this week to kick off a new year of Koreh L.A., The Federation's literacy program that has helped thousands of students in low-performing LAUSD schools over the past nine years.
"Koreh L.A. is serving as a model for the type of community engagement that is the heart of Los Angeles," Villaraigosa said. "This project shows what can be done when we all join forces, as partners, to take responsibility in our communities."
Koreh L.A., a program of The Federation's Community Relations Committee, trained 140 students at Roosevelt High to serve as one-on-one reading partners for students at Breed Street Elementary School. The program not only helps the younger kids improve their reading skills, it also gives the reading coaches pride and self esteem as they engage in communal service.
According to a 2006 study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, students who volunteer in high-quality school-based service activities do better in school than their counterparts who do not participate. They are also more likely to believe that they can make a difference in their community.
Since 1998, Koreh L.A. has trained more than 6,500 volunteers who have worked with 14,000 children in more than 100 LAUSD elementary schools. Twelve schools, including Breed Street, have also had their libraries completely restocked with new books through Koreh L.A.'s Library Book Initiative, supported by Toyota Motor Sales.
"As we start the Jewish New Year, we renew our commitment to tikkun olam, repair of the world," said Fishel. "In this spirit, The Federation is very pleased to help these and thousands of other LAUSD students improve their reading skills and self-confidence. They will take these essential tools with them for life."
Help for Ezra Program
Young adults in Camp Ramah's Ezra Program will enjoy new housing next summer, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Stone Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego.
The Ezra program prepares 17 to 22-year-olds who have special needs for independent living and employment through a seven-week vocational training program over the summer. Staff members teach the 20 participants life skills and run recreational and Jewish communal activities, while participants work in various areas of the camp, gaining valuable job and interpersonal skills.
In addition to bedrooms, the new dorm at the Ojai campus of Camp Ramah will include lounges, a kitchen and dining room where participants can practice the culinary and hygienic skills necessary for independent living.
"To have a space of their own within camp where the Ezra participants can learn to cook their own meals, do their own laundry and host their friends and family all while continuing to learn how to live Jewish lives is an invaluable component of our program," says Elana Naftalin Kelman, director of Camp Ramah in California's Tikvah/Special Needs programs. "This dorm will radically expand and enhance each participant's experience at camp and their impact upon camp as swell."
For more information, call (310) 476-8571 or visit http://www.ramah.org/pr_tikvah.shtml.
Graduate Students Awarded Scholarships
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles named its first two recipients of the annual Stuart Buchalter Distinguished Student awards, which gives second-year graduate students scholarships of $20,000 in recognition of academic excellence and leadership potential.
Recipient Deborah Tehrani is in her second year in the joint program of the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and USC's School of Policy, Planning and Development. Nadine Zysman, a full-time teacher at the Brawerman Elementary School at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, is working toward her master's in business administration in the Nonprofit Management Program at the American Jewish University.
The awards are named for the late Stuart Buchalter, a prominent corporate and securities attorney and philanthropist, who served as chairman of the Jewish Community Foundation from 1993 through 1996. Roland E. Arnall, United States ambassador to The Netherlands, and his wife, Dawn, close friends of Buchalter, established and provided seed money for the awards in his memory.
"The importance of giving back -- especially through education -- was paramount to Stuart and remains so with me," Buchalter's widow, Gail, said at the Sept. 6 award ceremony. "He would be especially proud of these initial two scholars: Both are exceptional young women, and their respective pursuits in Jewish studies are so admirable. I can think of no better way to perpetuate my late husband's memory."
Teen Essay Contest
The teen community service organization Areyvut (http://www.areyvut.org/) and JVibe (http://www.jvibe.com/), a magazine for Jewish teens, are holding a joint essay contest giving 5th-9th graders a chance to explain how they incorporated charity, kindness or social justice into their bar or bat mitzvah celebration.
The top three winners will receive an iPod or a digital camera and have their essays published in JVibe and Areyvut.org. Finalists will receive gift subscriptions and other free stuff from JVibe, and tzedakah gift certificates from Areyvut.
Deadline is Dec. 1 for essays of 250-750 words.
For details, visit http://www.areyvut.org/Action/bmec08.asp or call (201) 244-6702.