The pro-Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs is launching a new program aimed at training teenagers from around the United States to become leaders on their future college campuses.
While StandWithUs has been working with high school students since its founding in 2001, the new StandWithUs-MZ Teens Internship Program will break new ground by taking an individualized approach to “teach them a variety of themes and give them a lot of support for their own current activities, and help them do a project that will elevate not only their own knowledge but other people around them now, while they’re in high school,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in an exclusive interview with JNS.org.
The 48 participating students—a number that StandWithUS hopes will grow to hundreds—will be broken into three groups of 16, each of which will have a mentor. The MZ Foundation, which is funding the program through a “significant grant,” was particularly interested in Israel advocacy training for high school students.
“[MZ believes] that in preparing the students better for the challenges they’re going to face in college, the smart way to go is to give them that kind of support earlier, and StandWithUs feels the same way,” Rothstein told JNS.org.
Rothstein said high school students face anti-Semitic challenges “not as clearly and overtly” as college students do, but need to prepare for the various challenges that college life will present. The new program will “help students understand the importance of running proactive activities on their campuses,” she said.
The program, she added, will help students grasp “how rich it is to be able to engage with something that’s important to them anyway, whether they’re going to be facing a challenge or just wanting to educate their campus community.”
“They will be able to participate in a high-profile project that will make Israel’s image clearer to the world, [by broadening understanding of] Israel’s gifts to the world, Israel’s high tech—whatever it is that the kids will choose, they will have had an opportunity to begin educating now,” she said.
The program includes two three-day, all-expenses-paid conferences—one in September and one in the spring—as well as year-round mentoring for the students and a gift certificate of $1,000 toward a trip to Israel for the two most successful interns.