by Lisa Samin
Every bank is a business. A socially responsible bank is good business. With Pre-Atidim, Bank Leumi's Leumi Acharai non-profit organization is leading the way in educational projects that reduce the gaps in Israeli society and strengthen Israel's next generation.
Louis Roth, one of the Leumi Acharai representatives to Pre-Atidim, explains that Bank Leumi chose to invest in Pre-Atidim in order to change the downward spiral of under-resourced communities. "Helping one bright child from a lower socio-economic neighborhood pass the matriculation exams, serve in the army and go on to get a college degree changes that person. In turn, they become a different parent and raise their children differently. One cycle is broken and a new one is begun."
Thus, says Roth, Leumi Acharai looks at its partnership with Pre-Atidim as a marathon and not a sprint. "We know that our contribution now to tens of thousands of Israeli kids - Jewish, Druze and Bedouin - will change Israel for generations to come."
Roth, who headed Bank Leumi's Workers Union for 37 years, says that Pre-Atidim is more than just educational enrichment for bright high school students. It is similar to a youth movement, teaching community values, encouraging social involvement and activating communal leadership. "Every Pre-Atidim participant needs to do meaningful volunteer work. There are also excellent social and cultural activities. Pre-Atidim gives these teenagers confidence and pride," says Roth.
"Leumi Acharai believes that these young people have what it takes to succeed. But they need a supportive environment that believes in them and gives them the opportunity to get ahead," says Roth.