Chicagoans' Support Makes Waves Across the World

Scott Schreiber, of Northbrook, didn't really consider himself much of a philanthropist. But, after begrudgingly joining his wife, Robbie Schreiber, on a trip to Israel, he was smitten. A couple years later, after becoming involved with Israel through Jewish National Fund-USA, he visited an agricultural training center for farmers from developing nations, and everything changed, again.

So moved by AICAT's mission that he brought Robbie there on their next visit and together, they established the Schreiber Scholarship Fund to help more students gain access to AICAT's programming.

The latest student to benefit from the scholarship fund comes from an unexpected place, sharing no diplomatic ties with Israel, but filled with enthusiasm for the tiny nation and its innovative agricultural techniques. Jacob Dennis, of Liberia, is an innovator in his own right, using every resource and his own ingenuity to help lift his country out of poverty and into self-sufficiency and food security.

Thanks to the Schreibers, Jacob will soon be returning to AICAT for the second time to pursue further education in research techniques so that he and his community can create their own innovations too. "My country needs human resources," shared Jacob. "Going to Israel brought me to a new height and now I'm teaching so many others across Liberia what I've learned there."

Since his first return, Jacob has been teaching research and agriculture at the local university, but he feels that his own limited knowledge of research methodology is holding his nation back. "Since I've been (to Israel), I go on the radio and teach thousands of people better techniques for agriculture, but there is still more I can learn and my entire country will benefit," he said.

For Scott, Jacob is a perfect example of why the AICAT is so vital for both its students and for Israel, "This is why AICAT exists and why we set up the scholarship. The scholarship is enabling people to attend AICAT, but AICAT is providing the education," he explained. "Jacob Dennis is going to be a better farmer and a better provider for his family and his community because of the knowledge he acquired at AICAT."

Indeed, Jacob has already established a farm school called Moshav Liberia Development Network, in honor of the Israeli Moshav (co-operative village) he lived on during his studies, but his dreams expand well beyond his own fields. Since his first return from AICAT, more than 10,000 Liberian farmers and 3,000 students have benefitted from the variety of radio programming, teaching engagements, information booklets, and school programs Jacob and his organization produce. In the future, Jacob hopes to build a website and adopt an existing establishment with over 200 students to develop a formal grade school and high school with a center for agricultural training for the local children who do not have access to traditional education. His time at AICAT has already had an impact on education in Liberia, as he described that before he went to Israel he only learned about farming from textbooks. Thanks to the hands-on education at AICAT that includes fieldwork, he now knows and shares the importance of firsthand experience for learning, saying, "In Israel you touch it, you feel it, you eat it, it's a big difference."

As for how people react when he shares his destination, Jacob beams with pride, exclaiming, "People love it and are so excited. I'm always trying to expand and help more people."

For Scott and Robbie, Jacob';s dreams are their own as well, "We wanted to create something with a ripple effect, something that allows people to become educated and spread knowledge. And ultimately, they go home and they're better farmers, they're able to sustain their families and their communities and they've created relationships with Israelis, an understanding of Israel and a respect for Israel along the way."

For more information, visit or contact Tania Pons Allon at

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