AJEEC-NISPED is an Arab-Jewish organization, which began operations in 2000, dedicated to social change in the Negev. The organization consists of a team of Arabs and Jews who work together to create a shared society, where Arabs and Jews live together while preserving their respective identity and culture. Since its inception, the organization has been promoting sustainable development among communities in transition as a foundation for egalitarian and thriving communities, living in peace.
AJEEC operates as a civil society organization in three main areas: Youth (aged 15-25) and Leadership Development, Arab-Jewish Partnership, and Community Resilience. In recent years, the organization has expanded its activities from the Negev to the center and north of the country, implementing proven models nationwide.
AJEEC, one of the largest civil society organizations in Israel, employs 200 people and coordinates 1,500 volunteers, including around 450 AJEEC gap year volunteers who have graduated from high school. AJEEC also runs a youth organization, Shabibat AJEEC (AJEEC Youth)—one of the first youth organizations of its kind in Arab society—which is recognized by the Ministry of Education and has close to 7,000 members.
AJEEC utilizes a community development approach of identifying challenges and addressing the necessary solutions alongside the local community in a wide network of partners, and the local leadership in each locality. AJEEC programming focuses on three main areas: leadership development and community involvement among youth and young adults in Arab society; the promotion of a shared society for Arabs and Jews throughout the country; and the promotion of community development in Bedouin communities in the Negev. In each of these three, interrelated areas, a variety of programs and projects have been implemented.
Alongside the youth organization, AJEEC runs several gap year programs for high school graduates which combine community service, academic preparation, and professional development. Each gap year focuses on a specific area, such as volunteering, leadership, Jewish-Arab partnerships, and preparation for studying hi-tech and STEM subjects.
Arab-Jewish partnership has been a cornerstone of AJEEC’s mission since its inception. To this end, the organization has established a shared learning program, designed for Jewish and Arab middle and high school pupils and teachers. In addition, this department boasts an Arab-Jewish gap year program for Arab and Jewish high school graduates, implemented in partnership with the Israeli Scouts Movement.
AJEEC has developed a comprehensive strategy for strengthening community resilience by promoting various aspects of community development, including health and emergency preparedness, high-quality early childhood education, and women’s employment. Also high on AJEEC’s agenda is the establishment of social enterprises, such as the Hura Women’s Catering Enterprise (Al Sanabel), the first social enterprise in the Bedouin community, and El Hudaj, a sports and fitness center for women in Rahat.
The Arabic word “AJEEC” means “I am coming towards you”, and this is the driving force behind AJEEC’s mission of bringing Arab and Jewish communities together, to get to know and understand each other and advance the vision of a better future, together.
The Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Economic Development was established as an international, Middle East-based training institute
AJEEC was established as a community organization within the Negev Institute
The Volunteer tent was established in the Old City of Beersheva as a center for training volunteers and running informal education programs in the Negev
The department of Early Childhood was established with its central program, Parents as Partners, promoting women’s employment and establishing a series of educational frameworks for children up to the age of 3
The department of Socioeconomic Development was established, pioneering groundbreaking programs for social and economic development among men and women
The department of Community Health Promotion is established, focusing on the health of women and young children from the Bedouin society
Volunteering year programs began their national expansion from the south to the north of the country.
The Ministry of Education recognized AJEEC’s Volunteer Tent as an official youth organization known as Shabibat AJEEC
The Volunteer Tent receives the President’s Medal for promoting community involvement and social-civic partnerships between Arab and Jewish society in Israel
The organization’s gap year programs were recognized by the Ministry of Education as leadership programs.
Employment preparation programming was established for young men and women.