Each morning, some 50 youths arrive at Applied Materials Israel to work in the company's ground floor cafeteria.
The Rehovot-based company - along with the Ashalim organization for children at risk, the Havayot community center network of Rehovot, and the Aroma cafe chain - is working to find a solution for youths who have been expelled from school.
Antiya Kessel, the community relations director for Applied Materials, says it all began when her company was seeking a supplier to operate its cafe. Ashalim - a partnership of JDC-Israel, various government ministries, the National Insurance Institute and the UJA-Federation of New York - offered to set up an enterprise to encourage youth entrepreneurship.
Ashalim got the parties involved; Aroma donated the franchise, and provides discounts on products and training; Applied Materials funds the $600,000 project annually; while Havayot manages the project.
Sarit, 18, of Rehovot, has worked in the cafe for two years. She has managed to complete some of her matriculation exams with the help of a Havayot social worker, and dreams of being a psychologist. She notes that she has started to save money for further studies.
Some 106 youths have passed through the cafe. Program participants, who receive hourly wages, are proud that in its first year 80 percent have either kept their jobs, were accepted to new jobs, or were drafted into the army while still on the job. Half of those who started the project still work at the cafe.
The program has only had to terminate three students so far, according to Havayot social worker Zahava Shamashian-Golumb, who works with the project.
Applied Materials is already thinking in conjunction with Ashalim about the next enterprise. Kessel says the company is considering establishing retail space.
Applied Materials develops and manufactures inspection tools and solutions for microchip manufacturers.
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