Engrained in BGU’s DNA is a desire to make a difference. Over 40% of undergraduates volunteer in the local community.

Since its inception, one of Ben-Gurion University’s primary goals has been to establish a more equitable society for the people of the Negev region, many of whom are underprivileged. In many ways, the Negev is still considered the “periphery” of Israel, and many of its residents are immigrants who arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and other countries.

The region’s growing Bedouin population faces its own unique set of cultural and economic challenges. BGU students and faculty bridge the gap from academia to social action on a regular basis, contributing their time and know-how in Beer-Sheva’s most challenged neighborhoods and in the surrounding development towns.

Through the University’s Department of Community Action and other grassroots initiatives, students give back to the local community and in the process learn that the smallest acts of kindness make a huge difference in the lives of others.

BGU Gives Back

A variety of community action and academic programs are developed and implemented at BGU, many by the students and faculty themselves. Here is just a sample of some outreach activities that are helping the local community.

Lillian and Larry Goodman Open Apartments Program

Established over 35 years ago, this innovative community outreach program gives BGU students, known as “Goodman Fellows,” the opportunity to live rent-free in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Beer-Sheva in exchange for volunteering in the community. There are currently some 100 students living in 65 apartments.

Each student spends at least eight hours a week running after school activities, including homework clubs, sports, dance, drama, martial arts, and more. The students also mentor adults, work with senior citizens, create community-wide holiday programs, and plant and tend to community gardens.

What’s more, each student gets an “adopted family” in the neighborhood, with whom they form personal connections that last a lifetime.

Perach Tutoring Project

Perach, the Hebrew word for flower, is an acronym for tutoring program.  As part of a nationwide program, Perach pairs BGU students with 3rd through 12th graders.

BGU students provide one-on-one tutoring sessions four hours a week and receive tuition assistance.

Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development

The Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development provides Bedouin students at BGU with support, tutoring, counseling, and tuition assistance to help them successfully navigate their academic careers.

Facing extreme poverty as well as language and cultural barriers, Bedouin tend to have a lower enrollment and higher drop-out rate than other university students in Israel.

The Center has successfully helped hundreds of Bedouin students achieve their academic goals and become powerful role models for young people. Many Bedouin BGU alumni are now working as lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, and teachers, transforming their communities and helping strengthen Israeli society as a whole.

Now, when you contribute any amount to the Robert H. Arnow Bedouin Scholarship Matching Program, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Arnow family of New York. Visit our donate page and select “Bedouin Scholarship Match” under Scholarships and Fellowships.

Kidumatica Youth Mathematics Forum

The Kidumatica Youth Math Forum provides mathematically talented middle and high school students living in the Negev with a math enrichment experience that shapes the future of their lives.

Participants are generally children from underprivileged homes who otherwise may not receive the tools they need to succeed.

Now over a decade old, Kidumatica has produced a generation of Negev youth with a deep appreciation for mathematics, winning academic competitions around the country and the world.

In fact, more than half of Israeli mathematic competition prizes are awarded to Kidumatica members.

Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center

The Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at BGU provides some 10,000 high school students from communities throughout Israel’s Negev region with a high level of physics education and hands-on learning. This state-of-the-art facility includes physics and computer labs and a planetarium with a rooftop observatory.

The Ramon Center operates in conjunction with the BGU physics department, along with physics teachers from across Israel, to identify the Negev’s most gifted science students.

The Ramon Center has consistently placed Israel as the world leader in prizes for physics research conducted by high schoolchildren.

A group of students from the Ramon Center recently won yet another prize in the “First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics” annual competition, the world’s most prestigious science prize for high school students.

Leadership, Mentoring and Enrichment Programs

  • The Community Action Department’s Leadership Training Program prepares outstanding high school students from underprivileged communities to become involved citizens. Leadership training courses, skills workshops and hands-on volunteer programs empower the youth to realize they can make a difference in society.
  • The Newstart Program offers adults the opportunity to complete their high school education, perfect their Hebrew and learn English. The program is helping break the cycle of poverty.
  • The Sparks of Science Program provides academic enrichment courses to youth of Ethiopian origin, and encourages them to excel in the natural sciences.
  • The Barvaz Theater Group is an innovative program for teenagers who develop original plays that confront issues in their daily lives, such as drugs, splintered families, delinquency, and more. They perform in high schools throughout the Negev region.

Training Guide Dogs

It’s impossible to walk around campus without beholding tens of Labrador puppies scuttling about the courtyards. BGU’s Canine Companions program partners with Israel’s Guide Dog Center. The foster parent-students raise the pups for the first couple of years of their lives, socializing them before they embark on lives of service.

Academic Research Centers That Make a Difference

The culture of giving back to the community is part of the fabric of every department at BGU. Many individual departments, from social work to chemistry, develop and implement educational programs for the community. Additionally, several University research centers promote policies and services for various populations in the Negev region. Here are a few examples: