A $650,000 grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation will support a new partnership between UCLA and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem focused on developing school violence prevention strategies that turn campuses into safe and welcoming places for children worldwide.
The UCLA-HU Collaboration for Safe Schools is a two-year pilot program connecting scholars and practitioners globally and across disciplines to share research and insights related to the complex underlying causes of school violence.
The program will operate in both California and Israel under the leadership of two internationally recognized experts in school safety: Ron Avi Astor of UCLA and Mona Khoury-Kassabri of Hebrew University.
Astor is the Marjorie Crump Endowed Professor of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, with a joint appointment in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies. Khoury-Kassabri, Hebrew University’s vice president of strategy and diversity, is the Frances and George Katz Family Chair at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare.
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation grant, awarded to UCLA and American Friends of the Hebrew University, covers half of the pilot program’s $1.3 million budget. Martin H. Blank, Jr., and Richard S. Ziman, co-trustees of the foundation, issued a statement inviting other funders to “join this important initiative to create a safer and more peaceable world.”
Through exchange programs and conferences held on each campus, the Collaboration for Safe Schools aims to bring top U.S. and Israeli scholars together with K-12 educators, administrators and social workers; policymakers and experts in law and criminology; and university students focused on fields related to social education.
Participants will share knowledge on gun violence, bullying and cyberbullying, youth suicide and substance abuse, as well as forms of hate including antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and bias against LGBTQ and immigrant communities. The alliance will lead to a deeper understanding of culturally appropriate ways to create thriving school environments.
It will also stress the importance of a school curriculum that prizes not just academic success but social and emotional maturity, and makes room for integration of the arts into a holistic education that builds safe, healthy communities.
“In our current unprecedented and unsettling times, such collaborations are more important than ever,” says Astor, who has worked with thousands of schools to reduce victimization of students in a career spanning three decades.
Khoury-Kassabri, an authority on community-level social justice policies and interventions that prevent juvenile delinquency, says, “This partnership will promote the worldwide reduction in hate between groups using education, exchanges and scientific data, both in the U.S. and Israel.”
The pilot program is envisioned as a prelude to what will become the UCLA-Hebrew University Center for Safe Schools, operated jointly by the two universities. The center will leverage the wide-ranging research, academic, training and field expertise of the two campuses and serve as a multidisciplinary hub supporting school safety efforts worldwide.