Regenerating ORT Schools and Programs in the CIS and Baltic States Building upon the exceptional success of Regeneration 2000, World ORT has embarked on its successor project, Regeneration 2004. Like its predecessor, Regeneration 2004 aims to bring quality Judaic and general high school education to Jewish communities throughout the independent sovereign states of the region that was formerly the Soviet Union. Photo (right): ORT Students in the CIS integrate technology with normal lessons Jewish parents remain committed to secure the best possible education for their children, but the resurgent communities by themselves are unable to support a Jewish educational system. . The funding for much of Regeneration 2000, a four-year project aimed at 11 schools, ran out at the end of 2003. However, the demand for quality education that originally gave rise to the project remains. There is now an urgent need for a project to take over from Regeneration 2000, both to continue serving its existing network and to include more of the communities appealing for help. Other realities have also crept into the picture, reinforcing the need to take action. Much of the support for the establishment and operation of the Jewish schools network in the former Soviet Union came from the Israeli government. The escalating economic crisis in Israel has forced the government there to reduce the amount of money it can allocate to its overseas programs. The cuts to the FSU program amount to a massive 40 percent. This places enormous strain on the schools, but it would be a disaster if they had to close. World ORT has agreed with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Education to take on a greater portion of the burden of running the schools to ensure that they continue to operate. But it can only do so if it has the continued trust of the wider community, and the backing of its philanthropic sources. The renewed program must also take into account lessons learned in the early stages of the project, and changes that have taken place in the curriculum requirements of the schools. Specifically, there is a demand within the schools to further enhance the IT provision and to extend its scope to include a broader raft of subjects – including science, humanities and Jewish studies. This will enable the schools to take advantage of the wide range of Internet-based materials, educational software and attendant methodologies that are becoming available, thus maintaining the schools’ edge within the local education system. Much of the groundwork for this growth is already in place. ORT’s administrative, operational, developmental, training and support infrastructure is well established throughout the region, and a significant number of teachers have received basic training as part of the earlier initiatives. ORT plans to include in the new program 18 schools and centers in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus and Kyrgistan. In order to complete its mission for the renewed program, ORT will ensure that equipment and services in existing centers are maintained and fully operational, to upgrade systems to enable them to deliver enhanced options, to provide school-wide training to ensure that all staff is able to deliver the new materials, and to provide ongoing staffing and resources. In the new centers, ORT will carry out necessary refurbishments, plan and install new systems and services, train staff, and provide ongoing staffing and support. Network-wide, ORT must develop curricula materials–software, textbooks, student and teacher guides, training materials–as well as to provide training seminars and ongoing support.