“Every year, the state of Israel spends a billion shekels on programs for youths at risk, I have to admit that none of our solutions have succeeded the way Nirim does.
We need to study your methods and put them into practice at the widest level”.
Mr. Nachum Itzcovitch, CEO of the Ministry of Social Services, speaking at the 2009 Nirim graduation ceremony
Established in 2002, the Nirim foundation’s primary goal is to provide youth at extreme-risk with an opportunity, in many cases their last, to overcome their harsh life circumstances, discover their strengths, and become self-confident, successful, fulfilled and contributing members of society.
Nirim was established by friends and comrades-in-arms of the late Sergeant First Class Nir Krichman, wishing to bequeath a fitting legacy to his memory. Nir was killed during an operation conducted by Flotilla 13, the elite Naval Commando unit in which he served. He was known by all as an inspirational role model, who spent much of his free time working with youth. His commander, once himself an at-risk youth, was motivated, to create a program that elevates and empowers high risk youth and to dedicate it in his name Nirim.
Settings – Community outreach & Out-of-Home programs
The Nirim foundation nurtures, empowers, educates and literally change the lives of 500 youth a year via 2 unique educational-therapeutic settings:
- The Nirim Youth Village – located on the northern shore of Israel, a unique residential setting for 100 endangered youths aged 14 -18. “The Nirim Trail” – a 3-4 years process, is a highly intensive program for youths removed from their families by the “Youth Protection Authority” or referred by Juvenile Court as an alternative to custodial sentence,
- “Nirim in the Neighborhoods” – a community outreach program, currently active in 10 socioeconomically deprived, crime-saturated neighborhoods in 10 cities country wide. Neighborhood drop in centers are open every day (except for the Sabbath) late into the night, offering to over 400 youths an opportunity to turn their lives around, facilitated by educational mentoring, outbound challenge activities and tools for parental guidance and support.
- 65% of Nirim graduates succeed in obtaining a full High School Matriculation Diploma. This achievement is far higher than the national average for normative youth (about 64%) and incomparable to the average among Youth at-extreme risk – Less than 10%.
- 95% enrolment into the IDF (serving in a meaningful capacity) – one of Israel’s citizens’ most demanding obligation. The national average among mainstream youth is only 80% and among youth at high risk less than 30%.
- Intensive involvement in community and social programs, giving back to others as positive role models.
- Manny of the Nirim’s first & second year graduates are students in Academic institutes.
How do we do it?
Derived from a profound belief that every one of our adolescents, regardless of hers / his starting point, can achieve academic and personal goals far beyond their own expectations, develop their individual gifts, build a new self-image, gain a new set of tools and thus, create a different life path. For our programs we set normative targets as attainable achievements and employ powerful and unconventional educational-therapeutic tools to achieve them.
Both our settings, though, simultaneously, construct a home that gives them love, encouragement and support 24 hours a day, all year round. We remain family, and alumni continue to accompany the close guidance throughout their military service and begin their young citizens.
Wilderness Therapy – Leveraging desert survival tanning & field activities to facilitate change
Pivotal to programmatic success is the integration of Wilderness Therapy as key rehabilitative component. The program elements are powerful, using survival skills, marine and outbound challenge activities as intensive therapeutic mediums, that strengthen self-confidence, leadership abilities and sense of self-empowerment. The participants learn to work as a team in order to achieve personal and mutual physical and psychological goals. This therapy is an integral part of their scholastic program and incorporates elements of ecology studies as part of their final grades. Each youth is accompanied by his teacher, social worker and youth leader on every part and aspect of his challenge activity as part of his personal growth and transformational process.
Funding & Partnerships
In its early days, donations and the private money of its founders – where the foundation’s prime financial source. During the ensuing years, as our extraordinary results had been recognized and esteemed, The government significantly increased its budgets allocation to finance our activities.
As of 2012 The Nirim Youth Village receives 82% of its funding from governmental sources and The Nirim Neighborhood programs receive 58% in government funds. This funding covers the basic skeleton of our operating costs, but it is exactly the missing funding that is required to facilitate our unique programmatic elements – the ones that make the deferens.
The Nirim Foundation and is a recipients of the Ministry for Social Welfare “Outstanding Achievement Award” in 2010.