Q: What is ORT?

A: ORT is the largest Jewish non-profit organization for education in the world. We provide state-of-the-art STEM instruction (science, technology, engineering and math) via innovative programs that provide youth with a solid foundation for higher education and that give adults knowledge and skills for current industry. In ORT Jewish day schools in the former Soviet Union and in locations in Latin America and elsewhere, the STEM curriculum is combined with Jewish studies to further learning about Jewish heritage and culture, and in many places, the ORT program is the only avenue to Jewish education, customs and celebrations for local Jewish students.

ORT vocational training with a strong emphasis on science and technology provides adults with a path to employment and career success, but overall it is the ORT commitment to Jewish values imparted in all ORT instruction that sets ORT above other educational programs and makes ORT critical to the Jewish people.

Learn more about Who We Are, Our Mission and Our Vision.

Q: How and when did ORT begin?

A: During modernization in tsarist Russia, significant economic reforms encouraged capitalism, which left many Jews marginalized by the new system, as they lost their customary employment on the great estates of feudal landlords. New capitalist production required factory workers and skilled craftsman, and Jews did not have the necessary skills, as they had been excluded by law from many occupations. A group of wealthy respected leaders of the Russian Jewish community petitioned the tzar to offer classes in trades and in agriculture. The tzar accepted, leading to the genesis of ORT in 1880.

Throughout history ORT has worked on behalf of Jewish communities in Russia and well beyond. In World War I, ORT set up a relief-through-work project employment for displaced Jews. During World War II ORT worked in France and in the Warsaw Ghetto, training people to operate sewing machines. After WWII, ORT moved into the Displaced Persons' Camps, training more than 80,000 Jews. When the State of Israel was created, ORT trained thousands of new immigrants. After the fall of the Soviet Union, ORT opened schools and educational programs in Jewish communities, providing students with a connection to Judaism that had been denied them under Soviet oppression. When the economy became challenging for the Jews of Argentina, ORT stepped in, providing basic necessities, scholarships and Jewish education to 8,000 students. ORT has added significant educational value to every location in which it has been active.

Q: What does 'ORT' mean?

A: ORT is derived from the original Russian term Obschestvo Remeslenovo i. Zemledelcheskovo Trouda, which literally means Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor. Through the years, the term ORT has become synonymous with quality high-tech training that gives thousands of people skills to obtain meaningful employment and lead fulfilling lives.

Q: What does ORT America do?

A: A: ORT America raises money for global World ORT programs. Our funding fortifies ORT schools, strengthens educational programs with state-of-the-art technology, enhances the teaching experience for educators, and ensures the next generation has a solid foundation for the demands of an increasingly higher-tech society. Learn more about what we do!

Q: How does ORT America support and raise funds for ORT programs?

A: ORT America’s fundraising efforts include programs and events, missions, planned giving programs, corporate sponsorship opportunities and the solicitation of major gifts. The organization is led by a national board of directors and a professional staff operating out of its national office and seven regional offices throughout the country.

Q: How can I support ORT?

A: Go to ORTamerica.org for giving options; or you can call 800 590 7088. You can also get involved by serving on an event planning committee, becoming a corporate donor, hosting a fundraising parlor meeting, or by participating in an ORT crowdfunding campaign. Click here to learn more about our planned giving options.

Q: If I make a gift, can I designate it for a particular program?

A: Gifts of $5,000 and over can be designated for a priority funding project of World ORT.

Q: Is my gift to ORT America tax deductible and do I need tax substantiation for my gift?

A: Yes - your gift to ORT America is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. ORT America sends a letter of thanks, which also serves as a tax letter for each gift in a calendar year, including cash, checks, contributions made via credit cards, etc. For gifts of property, tax substantiations are sent when the items are received.

Q: How does ORT America recognize supporters nationally?

A: To recognize our donors, we have these giving categories in our Major Gifts Society:

$100,000         ORT Visionary
Includes membership in the World ORT 1880 Society
Established in 2005 in honor of the 125th anniversary of ORT, and reflecting the year ORT was founded by Nikolai Bakst, Samuel Poliakov and Baron Horace Gunzburg, the World ORT 1880 Society is comprised of donors worldwide who have contributed a minimum of $100,000 to the organization.

$50,000          ORT Innovator 
$25,000          ORT Idealist 
$10,000          ORT Trailblazer
$ 7,500           ORT Pioneer
$ 5,000           ORT Builder 

De Gunzburg Society

Named in memory of a founding family of ORT, this Society honors donors who have included ORT America in their legacy hrough charitable gift annuities, charitable trusts, pooled income funds and life insurance policies, or who have declared their intention to leave a bequest to ORT America.

Heritage Club

This is a segment of the de Gunzburg Society, for supporters with planned gift endowments of $50,000 or more.

The Guardian Society

In recognition of those who have been involved with ORT for 25 years or more, this Society includes a large number of members who have been active with ORT for over 50 years and who are proudly recognized at ORT America national and local events.