In the 2022-2023 academic year, Start-Up Nation Mentorship (SUNM) had many impressive accomplishments ranging from hosting impactful conferences and training retreats to networking dinners on college campuses. In September, SUNM kicked off the academic year by hosting over 35 members of their global board and executive teams at the World Jewish Congress headquarters, in New York City, for their annual training retreat. The conference hosted various activities, such as Jewish leadership training and professional development sessions. Within the month of the retreat, more than 150 fellows were recruited.
During the academic year, SUNM’s campus directors facilitated 21 networking dinners for their cohorts to promote collaboration and networking among the participants. Based in United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, these gatherings allowed students the opportunity to connect with alumni, share experiences with Israeli mentors, and learn about opportunities within the Israeli innovation hub.
Other exciting events that SUNM hosted included a reception in New York City with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper focusing on Israel's innovation opportunities. Additionally, in late May 2023, SUNM hosted the Young Leaders Fellowship (YPF), a trip to Israel for non-Jewish young professionals aged 22-28 in finance and high-tech. During the Fellowship, participants developed relationships and learned about Israel’s diverse population, met with investors, high-tech founders, and government officials in Israel.
The feedback from the Fellowship participants regarding the Fellowship was extremely positive. One question asked participants to rank how their opinion of Israel has changed after the trip, ranging from 1 being much less positive to 5 being much more positive; the average response was 4.47 out of 5.
The number of mentees participating in SUNM has increased from less than 50 to over 200 per semester, in a two-year span. Through their experience in SUNM, students' perception of Israel has become extremely positive and was quantified by a 16% positive increase in opinion of the country. Furthermore, data showed that student's willingness to engage with business in Israel and join related organizations on college campuses has significantly increased, reflecting a 240% rise from minimal exposure to strong interest.
To wrap up the year, SUNM's global board and executive team traveled to Israel from May 30 to June 1, 2023. In Tel Aviv, they met with senior executives and leaders, including Herzog Fox & Neeman Partner Adina Shapiro, Meitar Law Partner Dan Shamgar, and more. Along with meetings, SUNM hosted approximately 120 of its Israeli mentors, partners, and industry leaders for a cocktail party. SUNM not only celebrated milestones from previous years, but connected with more senior leaders in Israel, exposed itself to future partners, and propelled forward its mission.
SUNM’s successful year allowed them to foster relationships focused on personal and professional growth, along with connecting non-Jewish students with Israeli opportunities. With this, SUNM was able to redirect the attention of college campuses from perceiving Israel solely through its political conflicts and instead highlight Israel's status as a leading global market player.