A $650,000 grant from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation will support a new partnership between the University of California, Los Angeles 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 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 hate against religious minorities, with a focus on anti-Semitism.

The program will operate in California and Israel under the leadership of two internationally recognized experts in school safety: UCLA Professor Ron Avi Astor and Hebrew University Professor Mona Khoury-Kassabri. 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, HU’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.

“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 the victimization of students in a career spanning three decades.

Khoury-Kassabri says the “partnership will promote a worldwide reduction in hate between groups using education, exchanges and scientific data in the United States 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.

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