Students in Jerusalem - Olivier Fitoussi - 30112011
Students in Jerusalem. A new plan would give graduates grants to set up projects in the city. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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A new joint venture between the nonprofit student organization New Spirit and the Jerusalem Development Authority is offering grants to students completing their degrees, in the hope that they will set up projects in the capital's neighborhoods.

They're hoping the initiative will reduce the phenomenon of young people leaving Jerusalem immediately after they complete their studies at one of the city's academic institutions. According to New Spirit, 64 percent of those studying in Jerusalem are not originally from the city.

The project, funded by the Jerusalem Foundation, will provide grants to dozens of students - mostly in their third year of studies - to live and become active in the student community. The grant is for three years, meaning that it usually lasts for two years after graduation, with the aim of convincing students to stay in Jerusalem, even at the critical stage of starting a career.

Such communities have already been set up in five Jerusalem neighborhoods: Kiryat Hayovel, Kiryat Menachem, Katamonim, French Hill and Gilo. The neighborhoods were chosen in part due to the more affordable rent there.

In total, some 70 students are members of these communities. In addition to their studies, the students are expected work on behalf of the neighborhood and the community.

One such student community in Kiryat Menachem resides in its own complex, a building with five apartments, all of which are rented by the project's initiators.

A group of art students was established in French Hill. They will organize neighborhood projects and events with an artistic bent.

"Deciding whether to remain in the city is not related to just one factor," said Yifat Koren, the Jerusalem Foundation's community division director. "One of the determining factors is: Are any of my friends staying?" "Many find that a day after graduation, no one is left, so they also leave," Koren added. "The goal is to create, during the course of their studies, groups of students who will stay on afterward."

The project's organizers hope these communities will eventually become a magnet, attracting more young people to the neighborhoods.