In 2009, in partnership with Mahapach-Taghir, women in the low-income Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel initiated Second Opportunity: Higher Education for Marginalized Women program.The aim of this project was to give marginalized women who hadn’t completed high school the opportunity to go to University. The group of women worked together to form partnerships with the local municipality, colleges and community centers. With the support of the Mahapach-Taghir coordinators, the women sought out scholarships, created individualized work plans and support networks in order to complete their degrees. In June 2014, 27 women had graduated with a BA in Education from the David Yellin College of Education. This degree gives women better access to the job market and its social and financial benefits. Along with a degree, the women created for themselves the opportunity to be leaders in their communities, to empower each other and themselves and to be role models for younger women in their community.
Mahapach-Taghir’s model believes in empowering and uniting communities, but also creating solidarity between different marginalized groups across Israel. In honor of International Women’s day in March 2014, women who had completed the Second Opportunity program in Kiryat Yovel traveled to Tamra, a Mahapach-Taghir Palestinian community, to present their successes to the women of Tamra. The women in Tamra heard their own stories of exclusion from higher education resonating in the stories of the Jewish women of Kiryat Yovel and were so inspired that they decided to initiate the program in their own community.
In Tamra, the demand for the program is high indicating the pressing need of women in the Arab community in Israel for supportive learning programs, both financially, and more importantly in terms of social support. Over 45 women take part in Second Opportunity in Tamra. As a community of empowered women, they are breaking stereotypes by assuming responsibility over every aspect of the program. Along with a college degree, throughout this process women are benefiting by creating partnerships with the local municipality, strengthening the link among themselves and seeing themselves as capable agents of change in their community.