TAU strives to make a positive impact on the community, both locally and nationally, through a variety of social projects and initiatives.
At Tel Aviv University, knowledge is not an end in itself. Rather, it powers the transformation of lives and communities. TAU students and faculty are encouraged to volunteer their time and energy to serve the greater Tel Aviv area and Israeli society as a whole. Every year, TAU students perform over 300,000 hours of community service as part of their academic studies, and 45,000 children and adults – many from disadvantaged backgrounds – benefit as a result. Most are involved in campus projects designed to increase their knowledge and often help them gain important life skills. This also serves to minimize the gap between those with and without higher education in Israel and involve a broader range of the population in academic activities.
The Unit for Social Involvement of the Ruth and Allen Ziegler Students Services Division offers students a variety of volunteer programs that benefit local communities. Some programs are entirely volunteer based, and some offer scholarships to help reduce the cost of tuition and other school-related expenses. Among the activities students may choose from are teaching classes and workshops on legal and economic issues, private tutoring sessions for children ages 9-18 from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing assistance to children with mental and physical disabilities and teaching teenagers about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
Other social initiatives at TAU include Nature Campus, which introduces over 10,000 children and youth a year to the world of science and ecology at the I. Meier Segals Garden for Zoological Research and the Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden. In addition, as part of the Elga Cegla Legal Education Program, TAU's eight Legal Clinics provide vital, pro bono legal services to diverse sections of the population who find themselves in vulnerable legal situations, such as refugees and Holocaust survivors. The clinics also offer services and counseling in areas such as environmental justice and workers' rights.
TAU's commitment to equal opportunity in education goes to the very heart of the University's mission. Numerous scholarship programs, such as the Tauber Initiative for the Advancement of Ethiopian Youth, ensure that more and more young people from low-income backgrounds and outlying communities get a chance at a top tier education. In 2008, TAU established Access For All, an unprecedented initiative in Israel as well as abroad which allows people from marginalized sections of society, such as ethnic minorities, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, women from abusive homes and at-risk youth access to higher education. The program allows participants to attend classes continuously over a number of years and to benefit from introductory courses taught by TAU students in the final year of their degree. Topics include Israel's legal and healthcare system, business and psychology.