Since its founding, the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo (MTA) has promoted its vision of academic excellence and contribution to the community. As part of this vision, we have stablished the social enterprise Academic Snippets, where mature residents (average age of 50) from the surrounding Jaffa neighborhoods are invited to enroll in academic courses at MTA. In its first year, the program included fifteen participants, a figure that has since tripled, with some even pursuing a degree on campus.
Academic Snippets: Enrichment Program for Local Community Members
Many of Jaffa’s and South Tel Aviv’s adult residents lack academic education or even a high school diploma. Research has shown that the study process itself endows adults with a sense of personal and professional growth, encourages a change in personal attitudes and perceptions, creates new interests, and strengthens self-confidence and social awareness. Motivated by these studies and a desire to assist in bridging socioeconomic disparities as a means to advance Israel’s economy and society, MTA launched Academic Snippets, a unique program that addresses the educational and social gaps in its surrounding community. The program offers residents of Jaffa and South Tel Aviv a taste of tertiary education, enriches their world, and thus transforms them into emissaries who encourage their community to seek higher education.
The target audience of Academic Snippets is mature residents of Jaffa and the surrounding area, most of whom are of low-socioeconomic standing, with many supported by the social welfare system. Program participants undertake an MTA undergraduate course each semester, assisted by a student volunteer. Participants can opt to fulfill the course requirements, such as assignments and exams, thus earning course credits. The course in its standard format lasts from one year to four years. In 2017, an accelerated track was opened, which allows participants who meet pre-defined criteria pursue a college degree.
Academic Snippets operates on several levels to ensure an optimal learning experience for participants, whom typically enter the program after not having learned for decades and for whom the academic methods and curriculum are foreign. Undergraduate student volunteers accompany participants in the program on a weekly basis and provide answers, mediation and assistance with course material. Participants from the Arab community, most of whom find it difficult to shift between languages (English, Hebrew and Arabic) in their studies, are supported by Arabic-speaking students. In a series of dedicated group sessions, participants acquire basic academic skills, such as how to write essays, access databases, use the College's computer system, communicate with relevant college officials, and more.
Toward the end of the program, "pass it on" activities are organized, where participants are exposed to programs and initiatives in their local community as a means to encourage them to become active members of their community. In addition, program graduates are invited to become mentors of the new participants in the Academic Snippets program.
Vision and influence
Academic Snippets aims to make higher education accessible to a disadvantaged population and, in doing so, expand its horizons. The program strengthens the participants' self-esteem, who become role models for their families and community. In this way, an indirect circle of influence is created that makes higher education accessible to the entire community, and mainly leads to increased interest in pursuing academic studies among future generations. In addition, the program allows those interested and who meet the criteria to enroll in undergraduate studies, an option that would not have been possible otherwise. In doing so, the program fulfills the College's vision of promoting education in Jaffa and reducing social gaps in Israel while increasing MTA’s community involvement.
For further information about our initiatives or pathways to your personal support of the MTA Capital Fund, please contact:
Adv. Liat Weiss-Shahaf / Vice President for External Relations
Ms. Tal Stalik Tzur / Project Manager, External Relations