Getting There: Challenges, Opportunities, and Outcomes – RootOne 2022 Evaluation Report

June 12th, 2023

RootOne was launched in 2020 with the goal of maximizing the number of Jewish teens who participate in an Israel experience and maximizing the impact of those experiences. In its first two years, RootOne has approached these goals by means of three primary strategies: providing eligible teens with vouchers that make programs financially more accessible and incentivize participation; building up a continuum of newly-created educational and social experiences before and after the program in Israel; and investing in the professional development of the educators who staff the programs.

Since its inception, RootOne has committed itself to developing a robust program of research and evaluation. For 2022, the scope of this endeavor has included: surveys of participants shortly before and after their time in Israel, as well as a year after their return home; a post-trip survey of trip leaders; real-time observation of Early Experiences (pre-trip programming) and on-the-ground, in-person observations during participants’ time in Israel; observations of staff training; content analysis of program itineraries; and interviews with program staff and organizers, North American participants and their parents, and some of the Israeli teens who joined programs. These efforts have been designed not only to document the immediate and longer-term outcomes produced by programs, but to identify what impedes or enhances those outcomes, with the goal of enabling the RootOne team to continually improve its efforts.

This report synthesizes the data collected during the 2022 calendar year. It provides a sense of who the teens are that RootOne currently reaches. It describes how recent changes in the social-emotional needs of teens both challenge and provide opportunities for RootOne and their partners. This document unpacks the narratives conveyed about Israel by immersive summer experiences, and some of the logistical and educational logjams associated with those narratives. And, against this backdrop—one that depicts the challenges RootOne seeks to overcome—it charts the positive Jewish, Israel-related, and personal outcomes being created by programs supported by RootOne. The report concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for those partnering and planning to partner with RootOne as RootOne seeks to turn its aspirations into reality.

Simon Amiel, Executive Director of RootOne, adds, “By design, this report leads with lessons learned rather than with accomplishments because if we’re going to be a leading organization, we must first be a learning organization. The insights in this report help us chart our path forward as we engage a more diverse population of Jewish teens to connect meaningfully with Israel and their own Jewish identity.”

Getting There: Challenges, Opportunities, and Outcomes – RootOne 2022 Evaluation Report,” Rosov Consulting, April 2023