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Students at Brandeis Hillel Day School turn a school project into community and global impact

Youth In ActionEvery seventh grade student at Brandeis Hillel Day School participates in a Tzedakah project as part of their Jewish Studies program. Tzedakah is a Hebrew word that literally means “righteousness,” but is more commonly used to refer to charity. After studying the Jewish values and laws concerning Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah, students select an issue of interest and concern. They research non-profits that work in the areas they have selected based on mission statement, budget, location, impact and history. After selecting three non-profits, they compare and contrast, then select one to present to the class. They must conduct an interview with the non-profit, write a research paper and design a presentation visual. Students and their families donate funds that would usually be gifted for bar/bat mitzvahs to the Seventh Grade Philanthropy Fund for which the students are “Board” members. After the presentations are completed the class meets as the “Board” and deliberate to allocate the funds.

Beverly Pinto has been teaching the Tzedakah Project for five years, “I am amazed by the transformation of the students into young adults who believe that with research, communication, hard work and dedication, they can create change in the world.”

Asante Africa Foundation is honored to be one of 29 recipients of the project’s fund. The foundation was approached by Shayna, a student who is passionate about education in East Africa after a recent family trip to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. She was struck by the conditions facing the children there, who so highly valued education. She was particularly moved by the stories of challenges facing girls her age, ” I saw girls my age in early marriages, raising families already, and parents who couldn’t afford to send their kids to school. ” Through her research of Asante Africa Foundation, Shayna was impressed that so much funding goes directly to programs, and that the foundation worked so closely with the local community to create sustainable solutions.

A celebration and presentation of the Brandeis Hillel Day School Seventh Grade Philanthropy Project was held on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM. Asante Africa Foundation’s CEO, Erna Grasz was on hand to proudly receive the $615 donation.

If you’re interested in creating a culture of giving to your school and helping kids understand the importance of social action, visit our Youth in Action site.