Through its partnership with the Israeli nonprofit Unistream, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is committed to the success and empowerment of Israeli students living in the socioeconomic and geographic peripheries of Israel. This multifaceted commitment, which includes an expansion of Unistream’s infrastructure and curriculum, extends far beyond participants’ high school graduation.
Unistream’s programming caters to high school students, but is designed to instill a lifelong skillset that will be applicable to their future careers and aspirations. These skills distinguish Unistream alumni in many ways from the average high school student.
Shahaf, a 26-year-old Unistream alumnus from Eilat, noted how Unistream bolstered him professionally by imparting him with self-awareness and vision. “I’m much more focused and connected to what I want and know and what I can achieve, as opposed to other (people from my high school) who are confused about what they can do. I can really imagine myself going on a certain path and choosing a job that fits me,” he said.
Beyond fostering skills during its high school program, Unistream also offers an alumni program called Fast Forward, which provides graduates with resources and opportunities to ensure continued educational and career success. In partnership with the Federation, Unistream is currently expanding and deepening this alumni program.
“One of the reasons the Federation is excited about this new partnership is that we are involved with Unistream participants for the long-run. We have a longitudinal approach in which we really see impact. The alumni program will enable us to ensure Unistream alumni can and will succeed in the future. This partnership will make immediate and long-term impact on Unistream participants, graduates, their families and Israeli society as a whole,” said Becky Sobelman-Stern, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the Federation.
Currently, Unistream staff members help recent graduates find meaningful positions in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) or National Volunteer Service. They also pair recent alumni with business mentors who help them develop their interview and application skills and navigate different industries of interest. Unistream connects many of its alumni to technology and business internships, allowing them to further develop their industry experience before fully entering the workforce.
For example, Boris is a 20-year-old alumnus of the Unistream program in Eilat who discovered his interest for business and technology early on. He left his university studies in electronics to teach himself to code and to learn about the world of web development and information security. Unistream’s alumni program then matched Boris with a mentor at an information security company, who helped him prepare for job interviews and make his way through the industry.
Because of this program, Boris interviewed and received a job as a back-end developer at the Israeli startup Chatway, where he continues to work today.
“I took one decision at 15 years old (to join Unistream) and it has affected my 20s and my whole life,” he said. “This (job) was my dream, and I strived for it, and Unistream gave me all the tools. All you have to do is want it very much and Unistream helps you achieve anything you want.”
Unistream’s alumni program also encourages students to continue to explore and develop the innovative and inspired mentality they nurtured in high school, offering support and business mentorship for alumni’s personal start-up ventures. By expanding Unistream’s alumni program, the Federation and Unistream will work toward deep and long-lasting development in Israel.
“Business is a foundation for changing reality, especially in areas that suffer from underdeveloped economic conditions,” said philanthropist Rony Zarom, Unistream’s founder and chairman. “Those who deal with entrepreneurship, who think they can make it economically, are empowered not only to do well themselves, but to impact their communities as well.”
Ofek, an 18-year-old alumnus of Unistream in Netanya, already has big plans to use the skills he gained from the program to give back to his community. Formerly the CEO of his Unistream company, Ofek has intentions to pursue leadership roles in the IDF and to later build socially-driven business ventures from the ground up.
“Unistream taught me what I needed to do and what I wanted to do. I couldn’t be who I am right now without Unistream,” he said. “Now I want to change my little world for the better.”
The Federation is working to further expand these resources and opportunities for Unistream alumni, ensuring that more students like Ofek can do just that. Together, the Federation and Unistream will positively impact countless lives in Israel, in high school and beyond. The opportunities are endless!
To learn more about the Federation’s partnership with Unistream, email AWeiner@JewishLA.org.