BOG 2016: Jump-starting Social Mobility
Accessibility to higher education for young Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds and outlying communities has received a substantial boost through the Nissim and Rina Levy Periphery Scholarship Fund, which was inaugurated during the 2016 Board of Governors Meeting.
The Fund provides substantial support to TAU’s Periphery Program, awarding scholarships to 40 talented students on the geographic and economic periphery each year over three years. These students do not enjoy the same educational opportunities as their peers in the well-to-do center of the country. The Program works around this by modifying university entrance criteria and hand-picking students who performed at the top of their high school class.
The Periphery Program’s mission is to build up leadership in Israeli society. Founded in 2005, it is operated in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and is administered at TAU by the Ruth and Allen Ziegler Student Services Division. Participants receive generous scholarships and living stipends, subsidized academic tutoring, help with identifying learning disabilities, workshops to cope with test anxiety, counseling and career guidance.
The Program has graduated 220 students to date and has a success rate of 80%, with the majority of students achieving high grade point averages and now pursuing successful careers. This past year, five recipients featured on the Dean’s List of their respective faculties and one was awarded the Rector’s Certificate of Excellence.
Speaking at the event, TAU President Joseph Klafter said, “In providing scholarships to periphery students through the new Levy Fund, we are jump-starting social mobility with the finest undergraduate degrees that Israel has to offer. We want these students to study in an environment of research and exploration, with the hope that some of them will want to compete for acceptance into advanced degree programs,” he said.
Rina (second from left) and Nissim Levy (front right) with students in the Periphery Program
Dean of Students Prof. Tova Most thanked Mrs. Rina and Dr. Nissim Levy for their generous contribution and vision in “partnering with Tel Aviv University to implement its commitment to social causes.”
“When looking at Israel as it marks its 68th anniversary” said Prof. Most, “one notices the growing excellence and advancement of many segments of society. But, Israel is also facing great challenges in coping with urgent social and economic problems and gaps that are threatening to weaken its social character and its future identity. The Levy Fund will give students the tools to overcome these social gaps.”
She noted that in return for financial and other assistance, students are expected to take part in community service, a requirement that “nurtures social responsibility that can be an agent for social change.”
Dr. Nissim Levy and his wife, Rina, reside in the UK and Spain. Raised in Haifa, Dr. Levy is a chemist by education and a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Technion Institute of Technology. For several years he worked as a senior researcher for NASA in San Francisco. Dr. Levy later moved to the UK and became a successful businessman with over 20 years’ experience in management of trading and investment companies and in real estate.
Philanthropy is key to the family’s vision – in particular aiding youth at risk through various NGOs. Dr. Levy told the gathering that he came from one of Haifa’s poorest neighborhoods and always believed in university education. “I feel that bringing students from the periphery into Israel’s center will have great impact on both the center and the periphery,” he said. “We want the scholarship fund to give students hope for a better future.”
Also in attendance was Vice President for Resource Development Amos Elad.
All photos by Kobi Kantor.