Home / News, Videos & Publications / News / Leadership, Awards & Events /

BGU SOS Campaign Saves Students From COVID Hardship

BGU SOS Campaign Saves Students From COVID Hardship

December 14, 2020

Leadership, Awards & Events, Negev Development & Community Programs

ejewishphilanthropy.com — Below is an excerpt from Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s CEO, Doug Seserman‘s recent piece, “Ben-Gurion University SOS Campaign Rescues Students From Pandemic Hardship.” 

Doug Seserman, CEO

Israel’s universities began their academic year in the midst of the country’s second COVID-19 lockdown. Like most universities in the U.S., the pandemic forced classes in Israel to be taught remotely.

Some don’t realize that Israeli university students attend college following a minimum of two compulsory years of army service after high school. As a result, students are older than their U.S. counterparts. Many are married and have to work to fund their education and support their families.

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused many students to lose their jobs. This put their ongoing studies and potential career trajectory in jeopardy.

Student Mai Tannen

Recognizing the sobering reality that students might have to postpone their education or even drop out, the SOS: Support Our Students campaign was launched to Save the Class of COVID-19, the only Israeli university to establish a call to help its students.

Israeli philanthropic causes, especially universities, are dependent on generous supporters from abroad. And, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Americans for Ben-Gurion University) was privileged to help. In just three months, Americans for Ben-Gurion University raised more than $3.8 million from 437 donors – nearly two-thirds of the $6 million raised worldwide to help Israeli students.

Whether pursuing education in engineering, medicine, computer science, or political science, many of BGU’s 20,000 students faced both economic and emotional hardships.

The University predicted that one of five BGU students was at risk of dropping out, while 70% faced an increased need for financial aid. We had the key data in place to justify the campaign and communicate it well.

The most important success metric, beyond the dollars raised, is how the campaign was able to greatly benefit BGU students. Financial aid packages were provided to nearly 4,000 students – 20% of the student body. We were able to ensure that not one student dropped out or had to postpone their studies due to financial concerns. In fact, BGU actually saw a 12% increase in new student enrollment due in part to the SOS campaign effort success.

Throughout Israel’s turbulent 72-year history, American donors have come to Israel’s aid. They were called to respond during every time of need – through missile attacks and terrorism. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was and still is a special situation. It is one of the few times in Israel’s history when the philanthropic supporters abroad were undergoing some of the same issues as the recipients.

In this campaign, we were able to recruit and partner with our volunteer lay leadership like never before. Americans for Ben-Gurion University created an “SOS Campaign Cabinet” that had the responsibility to not only help get the word out, but also to solicit funds. Our ability at Americans for Ben-Gurion University to navigate, perform and succeed during this pandemic was a true noteworthy accomplishment for our team. I’m personally very proud of our professionals and so grateful to our generous supporters.

May the coming new year in 2021 bring a vaccine and return to the normalcy we all miss. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

Read the full article at ejewishphilanthropy.com >>