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Ksharim – Mentoring Program for Israeli Newcomers

Funding from Six Points Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund (JVPF) will address the need for programming to increase the affiliation of Israeli newcomers within Toronto’s Jewish community as a whole. The Six Points grant, paired with the hands-on support of committee members will allow JVS Toronto to implement a unique community-specific mentoring program that will assist newcomer Israelis residing in Toronto to build professional networks and become connected to the City’s rich and vibrant Jewish community. The creation of this program aligns with UJA Federation’s objective to engage Israelis and other newcomers in an effort to cultivate the next generation of community leaders and supporters.

Need: 

Toronto’s Israeli community has been consistently growing over the last number of years and is becoming an even more integral part of the City’s Jewish community at large. Based on 2006 census data, the Israeli Council of UJA Federation reports that the number of Israelis residing in the GTA has expanded to over 30,000 with approximately 500 new families arriving each year. Israeli newcomers arrive with great potential to make significant economic and social contributions, however due to their lack of professional networks and understanding of Canadian culture, they often struggle to find employment in line with their educational and occupational backgrounds. Additionally, cultural differences have resulted in the community remaining quite insular, with Israeli newcomers finding integration into the larger Jewish community to be challenging.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Goal
The goal of this project is to increase the Israeli community’s overall affiliation and connection to Toronto’s Jewish community at large, by utilizing a mentoring model that has proven to effectively assist newcomers with their economic and social integration.

Objectives
The objectives of this proposal include: 1) Helping Israeli newcomers achieve their occupational goals by matching them with local Jewish mentors working in their occupational fields who can assist them with developing professional networks and making educated career decisions; 2) Strengthening the Jewish community’s voluntary sector and donor base by increasing the community engagement of Israelis in community initiatives; 3) Facilitating cross-cultural learning and networking between local Jewish community members and newcomers from Israel.

Measurement
The success of the project will be measured based on the following criteria: 1) The number of mentors recruited; 2) The number of mentoring matches created between mentors and Israeli newcomers; 3) The number of events held to engage Israelis in Toronto Jewish life; 4) The number of Israelis who become involved in Jewish community activities as a result of the mentoring program.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

The proposed initiative will provide the Six Points JVPF membership with a number of opportunities for meaningful participation. Opportunities will include: volunteering to mentor Israeli’s with the same or similar occupational backgrounds to share knowledge, experience and networks; participation on the Program Advisory Committee to offer ideas to enhance program activities; and planning/hosting events that will engage Israeli’s in Toronto Jewish life.

Time Frame: 

JVS Toronto is requesting funding for one year. Upon completion of the one year program, we will explore the possibility of developing a similar program within Toronto’s Russian Jewish community.

Sponsor/Staff: 

JVS Toronto’s Jewish Community Initiative (JCI), Newcomer Services and Mentoring Services staff have years of experience working with Internationally Trained newcomers to Canada. Their combined expertise includes employment counselling, coaching, workshop facilitation and workforce development activities. A Mentoring Coach will be hired to work closely with these staff under the supervision of the Director Programs & Services, Newcomer and Jewish Community Initiatives, to recruit and coach mentors and mentees and coordinate program activities.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

JVS Toronto, one of the largest and most respected employment agencies in the province of Ontario, was founded on the basis of serving Jewish newcomers to Canada upon their arrival to Canada after World War II. Our Newcomer Services Division has since grown to offer a long list of supports for all newcomers in search of meaningful employment. Currently we offer: Job Search Workshops that familiarize newcomers with local labour market trends and job search techniques, Enhanced Language Training for Internationally Trained Professionals with backgrounds in a variety of occupational fields, Mentoring Services and Job Placement supports.

One of the many ways that JVS Toronto has built a name for our self in the GTA is through our expertise in delivering a variety of mentoring initiatives. Our mentoring programs match internationally trained professionals and trades people who are new to Canada with professionals in their fields of expertise. Mentors are valuable sources of information, advice and support for new Canadians. Specific mentoring programs include: One-to-one sector-specific mentoring where mentors provide labour market information, work search strategy tips, and an understanding of the Canadian workplace culture; CanadaInfoNet.org, which facilitates online communication between mentors and mentees through web-based access; Ethno-Cultural Group Mentoring, which co-ordinates group meetings with mentors and newcomers from the same ethno-cultural community; and Occupation-specific mentoring provided in partnership and collaboration with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

JVS Toronto’s JCI program staff have vast experience working with Jewish clients, through EmetEmployment.org, one of our most well-known Jewish Community Initiatives, funded through UJA Federation. We also serve the Jewish community through our partnerships with Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS), Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS Toronto) and the Jewish Russian Community Centre (JRCC).

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

The proposed mentoring program for the Israeli community is an innovative idea that will address a community need identified by UJA Federation. During the one year project duration, JVS Toronto plans to build a network of mentors interested in continuing to work with Jewish newcomers, and in providing leadership coaching to newcomers who want to become involved in Toronto’s Jewish community. Our hope is that these volunteers will remain engaged once the program has ended. JVS Toronto will also actively seek out funding opportunities from a variety of sources, including foundations, corporations and government bodies to try to ensure funding for mentoring programs within other Jewish newcomer communities (Russian, Spanish etc.) in an effort to leverage Six Points JVPF’s investment. In addition, to encourage replicating this initiative across North America, JVS Toronto will share the learnings and expertise developed with Jewish community agencies across Canada whom we have strong relationships with, as well as with the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS), of which we are a member agency.