PERACH, an acronym in Hebrew for "tutoring project", also means a "flower". PERACH pairs up needy children from underprivileged backgrounds with university students who act as their tutors, giving the child personal attention (often sorely lacking) and serving as a role model.
The care that PERACH children receive from their mentors, helps them realize their potential and blossom into motivated individuals.
The PERACH project was established in 1974 by a handful of students from the Weizmann Institute of Science, who tutored children in need. Since then it has expanded enormously both in scale and in the scope of its activities. Today, approximately 15% of all students in Israel's institutes of higher education and tens of thousands of children in need, take part in the project each year.
A significant percentage of PERACH's mentors and mentees come from minority groups.
Being the largest organization of its kind in the world, PERACH has become a source of inspiration and practical support to PERACH-like organizations, now operating in about 20 countries worldwide.
- To enrich and improve the lives of children from underprivileged backgrounds from all sectors of society - Jewish, Arab and Druze - through a warm and caring relationship with a personal mentor.
- To help university students meet the cost of higher education, by providing partial scholarships and/or academic credits in return for their work with needy children.
- To allow university students (the country's future leaders in every field) to experience first-hand, some of the country's most pressing social problems, thus helping to narrow the gaps in Israeli society.
- To promote tolerance and understanding among different sectors of society (including Jews and Arabs), through joint activities.
Children from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, often suffering from educational, emotional and behavioral difficulties (Approximately 20% of PERACH children are new immigrants, with equal numbers coming from the Arab sector).
We also provide mentors to children with disabilities, children whose fathers are in jail, disadvantaged high school students who need help to prepare for their matriculation exams, dyslexic or blind university students
We believe that personal development, social inclusion and academic achievements are all attainable for these children.
PERACH has a pyramid-like structure, with a small head office located at the Weizmann Institute of Science and a few regional branches at universities around the country.
Each of PERACH's regional branches is headed by a manager, who is in charge of 50-70 coordinators. The coordinators, all of whom are students and former mentors themselves, are each responsible for 50 mentors. The coordinator pairs up each mentor with a mentee, after interviewing them separately and obtaining background information on the mentee. PERACH's staff, receives professional guidance and support all year long.
Mentors meet with their mentees for two hours, twice a week.
Encounters take place at the pupil's home (to acquaint the mentor with the child's home and family life), at the university campus, at playgrounds, libraries, museums or at PERACH's enrichment centers (see below).
The activity is supervised and monitored by PERACH coordinators but leaves the pair a lot of leeway to decide what to do - prepare homework, play computer games or soccer, go to the movies, go on nature hikes etc.
Approximately 75% of PERACH's students meet their mentees on an individual basis, while the others serve as tutors in their field of study, for various programs throughout the country. The syllabuses of these programs are prepared by professionals who provide the tutors with written materials and guidance.
These programs are offered in a variety of areas such as Health
and Dental Care, Science Education, Nature and Environment,
Law and Order, Music and many more.
PERACH's enrichment centers, located mostly on peripheral areas, are open in the afternoons and provide a quiet setting where mentors and mentees can spend quality time together. The facilities are equipped with educational games, books, videos, art materials and computers.
PERACH operates 9 interactive science centers. At these centers children are encouraged to play with interactive exhibits, which allow them to experience first-hand some natural phenomena. The name of these centers - Havayeda" ("knowledge" and "fun" in Hebrew) - reflects their "hands-on" approach to learning.
Extract from a letter by a Perach mentor:
"When I arrived in Israel 15 years ago, I was 10 years old. I remember the difficult times my family and I went through. One of the things which helped me most was the Perach project. My mentor, Boris, was also a new immigrant. He taught me Hebrew, helped me do my homework, and took me to beautiful places around the country. But it is thanks to the great affection of my Perach mentor, that I made my dream come true - to be like everybody else!
Now I feel Israeli in all respects, and I am also a mentor at Perach. I mentor a 10 year old child who is a new immigrant. Now I have the privilege to give back what I received-to be there for someone who needs me, someone who needs warmth, affection, knowledge and experience in order to do well in life.
When Michael , my mentee, asked me how he could thank me for everything that I had done for him, I said to him: Learn, do well in life, go to university and then you too can become a Perach mentor".
(From a letter by Alon, a Perach mentor)
Children - ~ 58,000
Mentors - 23,000
Schools - 1,300
Towns - 207
Visitors in centers ~200,000