In 2000, David, Laura and Katherine Merage began their philanthropic work in Israel and currently support twelve regional staff members (known as Merage Israel). Over the years, more than 20,000 individuals have benefited from the Merage family’s philanthropic investments in educational and cultural programs. Their work today is focused on supporting the future of Israel in the Negev region, where they are targeting the area with more than 40 simultaneous projects and 200 partners aligned to promote the Negev as the future of Israel. The Negev embraces all cultures within the region, from Israelis to Bedouins to new immigrants, and seeks to build its capacity and population to stand as a central location for the future development of Israel.
In 2002, Merage Foundations adopted the Negev and its development as the main focus of its philanthropic activity in Israel. Representing nearly 60% of Israel’s land mass, the Negev holds untapped potential to expand Israel’s economic base, provide an unsurpassed quality of life for young Israeli families, and offer forgotten beauty and historical significance to residents and tourists from around the world.
One of our successful social investment partners is Ayalim Association. Founded in 2002 by a group of young army veterans, Ayalim Association works to promote the establishment of student villages and entrepreneurship in Israel, specifically in the Negev and the Galilee, which will lay the groundwork for permanent settlement and social activism. They seek to channel young people’s motivation and energy towards social action projects and current Zionist achievements. Largely due to partnerships with the David and Laura Merage Foundation and the Andre and Katherine Merage Foundation since 2004, Ayalim currently has 21 villages, with nearly 2,000 individuals active in communities in the Negev and the Galilee, and 5,000 students who applied to join the association and are on stand-by for future developments. In December 2005, the Ayalim Association was recognized by Prime Minister Sharon as a national settlement movement.