The desire to retain academics, artists, young professionals, entrepreneurs, young families, social innovators, activists and influencers in the city has long been a subject of discussion and concern among Jerusalem city leaders and numerous NGOs working in the field. While Jerusalem attracts some 40,000 young people each year to study in its many academic institutions and participate in a variety of educational and volunteer programs, the percentage of these who stay in the city and continue contributing to its social, communal and professional fabric is relatively small. In a recent survey of approximately 9,000 young people, 85% regarded highly the city’s institutions of higher learning but only 48% felt the same about the quality of Jerusalem’s social scene. 42% of those surveyed said they did not feel connected to community.
The JLM i-team is working to target young professionals, academics and social activists, and is launching a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening the connection between them and the city of Jerusalem, fostering active communities.
In 2015 and 2016, the JLM i-team created a plan to utilize the high “creative class” potential of alumni of Jerusalem-based gap-year and post-army educational and volunteer programs by working to help these programs increase their presence in the city and provide their alumni - some 15,000 potential residents by 2020 - with tools and incentives to stay in Jerusalem. During the research and mapping phase of the programs in and around Jerusalem (approximately fifty), the JLM i-team surveyed some 2,500 alumni in order to gauge their feelings about the city and provide the best programs and incentives.
Findings showed, for example, that approximately 70% of those surveyed considered living in Jerusalem a viable option for them, while 41% have already made Jerusalem their home (17% are from Jerusalem originally). One part of the initiative is working to bring influential educational programs, currently located elsewhere, to the city. Significantly, the Ein Prat Academy, an educational institution that attracts some 250 students per year, has committed to relocating to Jerusalem as part of the initiative. Organizations that opt to join the initiative receive matching grants from the City in the form of funding for an alumni coordinator, outreach training, alumni activities and more. Additionally, based on information from the survey, the JLM i-team is working with Jerusalem’s leading academic institutions to create new courses and programs based on the needs and interests of this group. At the end of 2016, a project manager was hired by the Municipality to take over the initiative from the JLM i-team.
The JLM i-team has been working on the creation of young professional networks, which aim to provide professional and social connections for young people looking to stay in Jerusalem, together with project owner New Spirit, a prominent NGO in the field. Looking to reach 5,000 young professionals by 2020, these networks look to provide members with a sense of community, networking opportunities for professional and social growth, a framework for civil activism and a deeper connection to the city. Currently, three networks are up and running: medical professionals, PhD students, government employees.