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Mara Schwartz ORT Keshernet Centers

The Mara Schwartz ORT-KesherNet Computer Centers remain a powerhouse program providing a basic computer literacy curriculum including Microsoft Word, Excel and use of the Internet. Following graduation, many women continue their education with more advanced courses including design software (Photoshop and Carel Draw), engineering software (AutoCad and 3ds Max), accounting software (lc Bugalteria and lc Predprivatie), as well as creating computer presentations and website design. With the severe economic downturn in the entire region, these centers have become ever more vital by providing basic and advanced computer skills, economic and legal literacy training, and a home for PK women’s groups, social activism training and activities, and for the Jewish community as a whole.

“The course gave us a lot of food for thought and pointed us in the right direction. Now, no one can derail me from financial independence” Ekaterina, Kostroma, Russia

Since 2002 Project Kesher has trained more than 60,000 students, 83% women. In the last year alone, 5,091 students graduated from the program (93% women). 80% indicated they improved their personal economic status as a result. In addition, during the last year, the centers conducted 275 programs on economic and legal literacy including workplace success, job readiness and resume writing for 4,615 people.

As the development of information technologies inevitably leads to changes in the workforce, ORT-KesherNet centers strive to meet requests for new trainings and approach the development of the curriculum with flexibility, taking into account new trends in the market of Internet technologies.

Mikhailina, 37 years old, Khmelnitsky: “I am a housewife and I came in with limited social media and email skills. I was skeptical but from the first day of classes I was impressed by the comfortable and friendly atmosphere, the excellent teachers, and the professional and clear presentations. I decided to continue my studies into computer software and expanded my opportunities. This experience has inspired my job search and personal development. Thank you, Project Kesher.”

Trainings available this year included:

  • Basic computer competency: Internet communications and social media, Digital communications: Basic Internet and smartphone proficiency, Word, Excel, and the Internet

  • Professional training: Network communications, Graphic design, Web design, Accounting, E-commerce, Technology as a tool for quality of education - a practical seminar for teachers

  • Personal and family development: Digital technologies for family management, English-language computer study for families, Economic empowerment for women, Financial literacy, Information security

  • Employment skills: Professions of the future, Cover letter and resume writing, Interview skills, time management, and other job skills, Entrepreneurship

Mara Schwartz ORT KesherNet Centers offer monthly webinars inspired by the ORT KesherNet curriculum. This remote learning provides access to financial literacy and independence classes for populations who may not otherwise have been able to attend. Participants are located in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and were oriented towards financial independence.

Natalya was on maternity leave, with a goal to learn to use Word and Excel to work remotely. As she lived in a different city and did not have childcare help, she could not attend classes. She needed a distance-learning course. Though that form of work was new for us, we successfully conducted online classes using virtual learning software. Now Natalya has learned all she needs to know to work with and manipulate documents and is able to work from home, earning a living while she cares for her child.