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Black Tie International:
Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising

Ron Bruder  EFE Founder & CEO Receives
The Heyman Award for Innovative Philanthropy


Ronald Bruder

Ronald Bruder, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Education For Employment Foundation.  Photo by:  GMK/Blacktiemagazine

The Heyman Award for Innovative Philanthropy was presented to EFE Founder and CEO Ron Bruder in recognition of his pioneering efforts to address youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). EFE partners with MENA employers and education experts to develop training programs that bridge the gap between what the current MENA education systems teach and what the labor market demands. Employers commit to hiring youth who successfully complete the programs – a crucial distinction that sets EFE apart
 from other training organizations. EFE is a network of local, autonomous affiliate foundations in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, West Bank/Gaza and Yemen.


Education For Employment Foundation Create Opportunities

Palestinian youth in the West Bank participate in the
Palestinian youth in the West Bank participate in the
EFE Construction Management Program

Youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa cannot be ignored. With the world’s highest youth unemployment at over 25%i and a still expanding youth demographic, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) pays a high price for joblessness. In a recent study entitled “The Costs of Youth Exclusion in the Middle East,” Jad Chaaban, Assistant Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut and former World Bank economist, estimates that the cost of youth exclusion is as high as U.S. $53 billion in Egypt (17 percent of GDP) and U.S. $1.5 billion in Jordan (7 percent of GDP), just to mention two examples from the region. However, and much more importantly, the ill-effects of youth unemployment cannot and must not be measured in monetary terms alone: the most devastating effects, in fact, are to be found in the breakdown of the social fabric of entire societies, youth criminality, despair and desperation, drug problems, suicides, the political, social and religious radicalization of an entire generation, the threat it poses to national development, and increased and counter-productive ‘forced’ migrations. Thus, MENA leaders can simply not afford to ignore the problem of youth unemployment in their region.

Addressing the Problem: A Sustainable Solution to Youth

Unemployment The Education For Employment Foundation (EFE) is a relatively new model for career education leading directly to employment for youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Established in December of 2002, EFE’s mission is to create economic and social opportunity through constructive solutions to the problem of massive and growing unemployment, by marrying supply of, and demand for,  human resources.

Drawing on the best educational expertise in the international community, EFE links up with local and locally established international businesses, and other institutions or private individuals, to create affiliate national foundations that provide career training in vocational, technical, and managerial skills, directly based on employers’ demonstrated needs.

These Foundations then work with mostly private but at times also public sector partners, to place graduates in jobs. More specifically, the Foundation helps to identify existing personnel needs in a given corporation or institution, subsequently finding young people with the required basic education (high school or academic), who could potentially fill such needs, provided they undergo complementary
training. The training programs are thereby directly linked to a potential employment, providing an almost guaranteed job opportunity (current success rate hovers around 85%) and stable career paths to graduates, thereby bringing the benefits of economic growth and social benefits to individuals, families local communities and countries alike First-rate education and training leading to gainful employment are essential to the advancement of individuals, countries, and entire regions in the global economy. In the MENA region, there are too few educational institutions that provide basic education matching the requirements of today’s market, and
even fewer technical and career-training opportunities. This educational shortfall hinders effective economic and social development, which severely limits employment prospects for young adults and, as seen above, negatively impacts all of society. By creating new, unparalleled training and job opportunities, EFE acts as a catalyst for economic and social development, with a direct impact on the country’s development as a whole.

The EFE training and job-placement projects demonstrate the core strength of identifying effective local partners in industry and civil society, and helping them take concrete measures to create economic opportunity for unemployed youth. The impact of EFE’s programs lies in the innovative, replicable model of direct linkage to mostly private but also public sector demands. Given the high demand for quality career training throughout the region, and the urgent need to correct the mismatch between educational curricula and employers’ needs, EFE’s programs serve as a model for reform and development of the workforce throughout the region.

EFE is currently composed of national foundations in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine (both West Bank and Gaza) and Yemen, with support offices in Spain and the United States. The local foundations implement the programs according to the needs of each country and sector. Each foundation is guided by a Board of Directors composed of prominent and experienced leaders from academia, business and civil society, predominantly from the country in question, with minority representation from the U.S., and Europe who are there to share the experience and lessons-learned from other countries.

A private US philanthropist has committed US $10 million to fund EFE’s initial administrative expenses, and a European Donor is supporting financially and in-kind the operations in Europe, where much of the coordination is conducted. However, while European and American individuals and companies, and to some extent governments, have heavily invested in these excellent initiatives, given the immense requirements that cannot be met by outside sources alone, there is an urgent need to hugely scale-up the programs and operations with the active support of local funds, be they from governments, philanthropists or socially responsible companies. In fact, it is difficult to ask outside players to alone fund such activities, if those in the region don’t partake in an equal measure.

EFE thus believes in the importance of its operations being fully locally driven, and to this effect seeks to build partnerships with such parties who genuinely wish to see their own countries develop, and, therefore, seeks additional funding from governmental and private sources, both in MENA, Europe and the US, to be used solely for education and job creation.

According to a 2007 World Bank analysis, 67% of the population in the region is 24 years or younger. These youth deserve all the help they can get, as do their home countries. However, such support cannot be expected to come solely from the outside. By supporting the EFE mission to create opportunities for MENA youth, MENA leaders, be they public or private, will be part of the solution to a problem that plagues the entire region.

How EFE Operates

EFE brings together business leaders, educators and government officials in the Middle East and North Africa to create employment opportunities for unemployed youth through world-class training linked directly to jobs.

Our vision is a vibrant middle class, into which the currently under-privileged can emerge, and by which young people can achieve livelihoods as well as dignity through satisfying employment. Our method is to create market-driven, tailor-made training courses that will bridge the mismatch between education and
employment and make graduates employable.

To achieve our employment-creation goal on a sustainable basis, we partner with business leaders, government officials and educational institutions to form local not-for-profit foundations dedicated to youth employment. In each country, we seek a broad range of founding board members and a variety of companies that commit to hire trained program graduates.

Our replicable, not-for-profit country programs demonstrates to governments and society at large, the value of involving the private sector in educational planning, and will - in due course - inspire the development of a for-profit “career college” industry geared to employer needs.

The EFE business model:

Governance EFE and local partners create an autonomous foundation in which they sharegovernance, with the local sharing the majority, and provide policy guidance to a locally recruited CEO, who is backstopped by EFE project managers.

Funding Until the local foundation can secure sufficient local project overhead to cover its own operating costs, EFE and its local partners share initial costs. However, over the medium- to longer term, partners from the region must step in.

Private Sector Local business partners commit to hire a specified number of program graduates, and provide student sponsorships, pro bono office space, administrative staff and/or other in-kind contributions. At times, however, public entities in need of young qualified personnel, may make similar commitments.

Training Working together with local and international experts, from institutions such as the Islamic University of Gaza, Harvard University and Hassan II University of Casablanca, EFE and its partners identify training needs, refine curricula, select trainers and enlist students for courses.

Alumni Network EFE establishes and manages alumni networks that provide ongoing mentoring and online continuing education for graduates. Alumni able to do so also give back a small portion of their first-year salaries, to offer other youth the same opportunities they had, thereby creating a strong bond among alumni and contributing to sustainability.
Sustainability While grants and contributions are required to fund initial project development, in the longer term, employer sponsorships and alumni contributions should finance 80- 100% of training delivery costs.

Replicability While each course is tailored to the needs of a specific company or institution, we generally work in sectors in which there is broad demand. Therefore, we establish academic, operational and financial frameworks for each program that can be replicated in various geographic settings, cultures and languages.

Reflections from EFE Graduates

“Before joining the EFE program or even hearing about it the doors were closed and the tunnels were dark. Thanks to the people who spent their time and efforts to design and implement this unique program. Without the EFE Mini-MBA course and the efforts that were made, I would not be here working in a much -respected company, where you can achieve your goals and build your career. There is a very common saying, I think it’s a Japanese one, that says: ‘Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.’ This is what the Mini-MBA course did: they taught us how to fish and how to build our careers.” - Mohamed Ayesh (Palestine)

“I was putting all my efforts into looking for work, because work is a human being’s dignity. I was lucky to participate in the training offered by EFE. Today, I feel like an active member of society.”
 - Fayçal Jouaibi (Morocco)

“I learned to plan my life, and to be persistent in pursuing my goals. I became a positive person I learned how to manage my time and my resources. I learned how to make decisions, and to be decisive. I also learned how to interact with my work mates and how to reach my goals in a positive way. Most importantly, I learned how to be confident. I am now in control of my life, more than ever before. Being
employed is just like being re-born.” -Reena Kulaib (Yemen)

“Each alumnus creates a ring in the water by sharing his or her experiences with friends and acquaintances, but one ring does not suffice. In order to have maximum impact, we need to cover a greater surface area; we need to reach more youth.” […] “This experience has provided me the happiest days of my life. It is the result of a collective effort of a network that aims to develop the abilities of youth throughout the world.” - Mohammed Bahlaouane (Morocco)



About The George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for
Philanthropy and Fundraising

Now celebrating its 10th year, the Heyman Center was established to help fundraisers learn about the complexities in fundraising and philanthropy and help them become sensitive to the many ethical issues that arise in governance and fundraising.  The Heyman Center has now taught more than 3,000 students and provides more than 40 courses in non-credit Certificate programs.  It offers a two-year Master of Science in Fundraising and Grantmaking Program. 

About the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Established in 1934, NYU-SCPS is among the several colleges and schools that comprise New York University, one of the largest private research universities in the United States.  Through its faculty, curricula, and vibrant professional and academic networks, NYU-SCPS captures the expertise of key sectors where New York leads globally: Real Estate; Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management; Global Affairs; Philanthropy; Communications Media, Publishing, Design, and Digital Arts; Business, Marketing, and Finance; and the Liberal and Applied Arts, among others. Rigorous and timely programs in these and related areas attract undergraduate and graduate students immersed in university life, working professionals in 14 graduate degrees, and New Yorkers of all backgrounds enrolled in approximately 2,500 continuing education courses, certificate programs, conferences, and seminars annually. NYU-SCPS is widely considered to be the most complete example of NYU’s founding commitment to be “In and Of the City”—and “In and
Of the World.”


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