This fall, a campus initiative run in partnership between Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Boston’s Jewish Federation, and Hillel International will expand to Hillels at seven major universities. IACT (Inspired, Active, Committed and Transformed) a campus involvement initiative started by CJP in 2007, will now have the potential to reach 45,000 Jewish undergraduates nationwide.
IACT builds on the success of Taglit-Birthright Israel by providing support and inspiration to students before and after their trip. The initiative focuses on expanded recruitment in an effort to bring more college-age Jewish students on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, and engages these young adults in Jewish life upon their return from Israel.
“IACT is about building a Jewish future,” said CJP vice president Cheryl Aronson. “The post-trip engagement is designed to translate students’ passion and energy from the Birthright Israel trip into actions consistent with Jewish values at the earliest opportunity following the trip.”
“Hillel International is proud to continue our successful partnership with CJP and to reach more Jewish campus communities,” said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International. “College students return from Taglit-Birthright Israel inspired to explore their Jewish roots. IACT builds on that spark by engaging these students for a lifetime of connection to Jewish values and the Jewish people.”
CJP, in consultation with Hillel International, selected the universities for participation this year out of more than a dozen candidates who applied to become part of IACT. Those selected are: Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Wisconsin, and Rutgers University.
IACT’s major success has been the outstanding rate of post-trip student engagement. Between 80 and 100 percent of IACT alumni become engaged in Jewish life on campus during the year following their Birthright trip.
“Trips to Israel change Jewish lives. Every study of Jewish identity tells the same story but until now only the most committed young adults have participated. Birthright Israel trips have opened the doorway to Jewish life for an entire generation. They are connecting the next generation through love of Israel and the Jewish people. But love alone won't persist. Birthright Israel follow-up is critical. IACT enables these young adults to remain inspired and connected to lives of Jewish purpose and meaning, action and learning. This may well be the tipping point of a generation - a moment of transformational change in Jewish life. Our sincerest thanks to Hillel International for this partnership and to Edward Fein for his generous gift," said CJP president Barry Shrage.
The national expansion has been made possible through a generous gift of more than $3.1 million from the Edward Fein Foundation. The IACT initiative currently reaches students on currently reaches 17 campuses (12 in New England): University of Florida, University of Texas-Austin, The Ohio State University, University of Maryland, University of California-Santa Barbara, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Williams College, Amherst College, Clark University, Brown University, Boston University and with the new campuses listed above, will hit 24 sites. The goal of the partnership with Hillel International is to expand to 50 campuses over the next five years.