Planting a tree of life in the Galilee

“It takes a noble man to plant a seed for a tree that will some day give shade to people he may never meet.” – Dr. David Trueblood 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony placing the cornerstone for the permanent Medical School campus, November 2012.

In fundraising, sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we get to work on a fundraising campaign that means even more than the buildings it funds, the programs it underwrites, or the students it helps. And sometimes a project presents donors with the rare opportunity to change not only an institution or its constituents, but an entire population and an entire region of the world.

One such example: the Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine in Israel. The University is in the early stages of a $400 million capital campaign to fund construction of a permanent campus for Israel’s first new medical school in nearly 40 years. The campus will be built in the Galilee, in the underdeveloped northern region of Israel, where multiple ethnic populations (both Israeli and Arab) live without access to the same levels of infrastructure, health care, job opportunities, and other assets that exist in the center of the country.

Why does this matter? Several reasons, and they stretch well beyond the impact the medical school will have on the University and its students. Construction of the new, permanent Medical School campus in the Galilee will address four critical, time-sensitive concerns for the nation of Israel: public health, population, the regional and national economy, and the country’s scientific standing internationally.

  • Public health – The Medical School will answer the need for a new generation of highly trained doctors throughout Israel, particularly in the northern district. For the first time ever, residents of the North will benefit from health services on par with those available in the center of the country. Once the permanent campus is completed, as many as 250 highly trained graduates annually will complete their studies at the Medical School and take up positions as physicians, and many of these positions will be based in the North. A much-needed upgrade of diagnostic and care facilities will take place throughout the region as well.
  • Population – The permanent medical school campus will help to attract many new residents to the underdeveloped northern region of Israel. New research opportunities will lure home top class Israeli scientists, thereby helping to stem the “brain drain” that is causing Israel to lose many high-value minds to institutions abroad. Highly accomplished scientists and doctors from Israel’s central region will also be attracted to join, fostering further population growth through their relocation to the Galilee. Specific seats in each year’s class of medical students have also been reserved for students returning home to Israel from their studies in Europe and America, helping to reverse the “brain drain” into a “brain gain” as these future Israeli doctors and scientists graduate and remain in their home country.
  • Economy – Hundreds of jobs will be created, large-scale capital and infrastructure projects will be initiated, and cash flow in the underdeveloped district will grow significantly. New medical training opportunities will keep Israeli medical students inside the country, with no need to study abroad.
  • Scientific standing – Israel’s scientific edge will be bolstered by the critical mass of research output of 40 new experimental teams, which will include top researchers from Israel and the Diaspora. Among these will be a large number of brilliant Israeli scientists who have completed post-doctoral training at some of the world’s most prestigious research institutions and are returning to Israel to lead research and teaching at the Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine.
The new Medical School just a short distance from the Sea of Galilee, in the underdeveloped northern region of Israel.

The new Medical School will overlook the Sea of Galilee, in the underdeveloped northern region of Israel.

The availability of modern, state-of-the-art teaching, clinical, and laboratory spaces will attract high-performing students and accomplished professors and, very importantly, provide the specialized space required to engage students in hands-on learning, preparing those students with the practical, ethical, and cultural competencies necessary to enter the medical profession.

“The essential vision…is to reinforce the moral and ethical basis of medical practice – commitment, respect for the living and for the dead, sensitivity to different cultural norms, equality and justice, and more.” – Professor Michael Weingarten, Vice Dean, Bar-Ilan University Medical School

The Bar-Ilan University Medical School will be a true public-private partnership, funded jointly by private donors whose gifts will be matched by the government of Israel. This matching mechanism of course is a powerful tool for fundraisers, enabling them to offer donors the opportunity to double the impact of their gifts.

Donors will thus have the chance to literally partner with Israel to accomplish these lofty and important goals for the country:

  • An increase in the availability of modern, quality health care options for the traditionally disadvantaged populations in the northernmost region of Israel;
  • Alleviation of Israel’s identified need for trained healthcare practitioners;
  • Gradual population migration to the Galilee and other parts of northern Israel over time, as accompanying infrastructure develops and new professions emerge in the region; and
  • Increases in the numbers of students who ultimately choose to practice medicine, teach, and conduct research in Israel rather than relocating to other nations in the region and abroad.

The campaign for the Bar-Ilan University Medical School will illustrate to donors, corporate partners, community members, elected officials, and other education institutions nationally and globally that private investment in the future of our public institutions is not only worthwhile, but also vital to their continued ability to serve students and prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

As a fundraiser, one can only hope to have the opportunity to work on a project that can change an entire region and in fact an entire nation. And as a donor, one can only hope to have the type of impact that this project offers, both today and for generations to come.

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About PaulLanning

Managing Partner, rpr Fundraising, LLC

One Response to “Planting a tree of life in the Galilee”


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