A group of teenagers strolls into a classroom, backpacks in tow. Some of the teens giggle over shared Whatsapp messages while others snack on Nutella and pita bread. One girl finishes the last of her math homework while a boy sits quietly on a bean bag in the corner.
The clock strikes 4:00 pm, signaling the start of the Unistream session. The Unistream center director calls the group to attention, and the teens transform. The girl becomes a CEO, practicing her presentation for the upcoming investment committee hearing. The boy turns to his marketing strategy research, carefully editing their company’s website. One pair of students handles their product prototype, while another fiddles with 3D printing software.
This is the atmosphere of Unistream, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ newest strategic overseas partner. Unistream is an innovative Israeli nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth in the social and geographic peripheries of Israel through hands-on and intensive entrepreneurship education. This strategic collaborative partnership is based on the Federation’s values of identifying and addressing challenges and opportunities in communities in Los Angeles, Israel and around the world.
Through this partnership, the Federation and Unistream will make a pronounced and lasting impact in Israel. The partnership focuses on closing widening socioeconomic gaps and provides collaborative and creative support, deepening Unistream’s impact across the country. The Federation will help Unistream build upon its organizational capacity, enhance and deepen its educational curriculum, open new entrepreneurship centers throughout Israel, and ultimately expand the scope of Unistream’s proven educational success.
Jay Sanderson, President & CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said, “This partnership will positively impact the students, their families, and communities in Israel, forever changing the trajectory of their lives. We look forward to embarking on this partnership together and strengthening our community here and abroad for generations to come.”
Unistream’s three-year program takes students through the various steps of building their own business, imparting upon them transformative skills for their academic, personal, and professional futures. Students go through essential steps like conducting market research, creating business and financial planning, dividing into specific team roles, developing a prototype and marketing strategy, and presenting before investment panels. Unistream also incorporates social entrepreneurship into its curriculum, encouraging students to use technological advancements to address pressing social issues in their communities.
The program, which includes several cornerstone events throughout the year, culminates in an annual Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Hundreds of students from across Israel join together to present their products, celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship, and network with hundreds of local Israeli business professionals. Unistream has a network of more than 2,500 volunteer businesspeople who provide trainings, advice, and mentorship to Unistream’s budding teen entrepreneurs.
In the 16 years since its founding, Unistream has expanded across diverse communities in Israel and has helped 1,000 alumni and 1,500 current teen participants fulfill their potential as young and innovative leaders. Alumni have moved on to become leaders in their respective communities.
“16 years ago, when you talked about entrepreneurship in the peripheral cities where Unistream is today, it sounded like a foreign language,” said philanthropist Rony Zarom, Unistream’s founder and chairman. “Unistream has created a tremendous change within the youths’ state of mind in these communities.”
In many ways, Unistream’s biggest accomplishment has been to allow young people across Israel to dream beyond the limitations of their environments.
For example, one alumnus now working as a web developer attributes his success to Unistream: “This [job] was my dream, and I strived for it. Unistream gave me all the tools. All you have to do is want it very much and Unistream helps you achieve anything you want.”
Now, thanks to the new and exciting partnership between the Federation and Unistream, those visions-turned-achievements will only multiply, as the start-up dream becomes a reality for all.
Look out for stories about Unistream every month! To learn more about the Federation’s partnership with Unistream, feel free to contact AWeiner@JewishLA.org.