WHO WE ARE

Youth Renewal Fund is the philanthropic funding partner for the Darca network of schools in Israel. Darca provides Israeli high school students in lower income communities—regardless of ability, religion, birthplace, geographic or socio-economic status—an excellent education designed to improve social mobility. The schools emphasize academic achievement and the values of tolerance, democracy and active participation in national and community life.

Israel currently faces one of the largest and fastest growing gaps in educational achievement between rich and poor. An under-educated population puts Israel’s predominantly knowledge-based economy at risk. Through Darca schools, Israeli children discover and harness the power of education as a means to improve quality of life for themselves, their communities and their country.

SCOPE OF OUR WORK

The network today includes 30 widely dispersed high schools, from Kiryat Shmona in the north all the way to the Arava in the far south. Among these institutions are religious and non-religious high schools, a Druze school and all-girl schools for religious young women who combine secular and religious studies. Darca also operates two innovative English learning centers serving students from different schools and ages, where Jewish and Arab students regularly meet and study English together.

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“We believe in equal opportunity for all our students, and to bring our students to their fulfillment both academically and socially. We believe our graduates should have broad knowledge, critical independent thinking, ambition and a set of values that will allow them to feel connected to their country.”

– Mali Elias, Principal, Maxim Levy Darca High School

HOW WE DO IT

Darca schools serve over 15,000 students each day in the country’s peripheral communities. Similar to a charter school network in the United States, Darca improves schools not only by managing them more effectively, but also by creating excellence through innovation in curriculum and teaching methods. Darca only works in lower-income communities, improving school leadership, adding instructional hours in core subjects and providing arts and other enrichment programs that our students would not otherwise have. Academic programs revolve around the desire to provide substantive content encouraging students to grow into creative, thinking individuals with a thirst for knowledge. These programs focus on social values that emphasize community service, affinity with the State of Israel, citizenship, and the values of democracy and enhancement of Jewish-Israeli identity.

IMPACT

Darca’s methods are working. Only 56% of Israeli students pass the Bagrut—the matriculation exam—that makes them eligible to apply to university. In poor communities, that statistic drops to 37%, in wealthier communities, the statistic is higher. In Tel Aviv, for example, it is at 76%. In that same year, 85% of Darca students passed this exam. Darca students are not only outperforming their peers and the national average, but they are achieving at the same or higher rates as students in communities with far greater resources and where far more money—likely 6 to 8 times what we have—is spent. Just by attending a Darca school, our students are doubling their chances of post-secondary education. This problem is solvable.