Nov 9


Thanks to JETAA USA Country Representative (and JETAA USA Fund Committee member) Megan Miller (Hyogo-ken) for the following summary of the JETAA USA Earthquake Relief Fund’s disbursements.  It was originally an e-mail sent to the JETAA USA chapter officers Google Group which has been modified slightly for posting here:

Dear US Chapters,

The fund committee has been hard at work and has finalized the donations for the $76,000+ we have raised so far. I’d like to thank the committee as well as the folks at JETAANY for all of their hard work during the past 8 months, and I’d also like to thank all of you for your amazing fundraising efforts. News of JETAA’s collective, world wide fundraising efforts as JET Alumni is very much on the radar screen in Japan. It is great that we can support the people of Japan and also demonstrate the value of our network and our commitment to Japan at the same time.

To recap the fund committee’s decision, here is where we are allocating the funds raised to date:

1. Hope for Tomorrow – $25,000 (

A major challenge that high school students from the Tohoku region will face is to keep from falling behind students from elsewhere in the country who are studying for their college entrance exams. The students in Tohoku graduating this March had completed their exams by the time of the earthquake, but the ones who will graduate next year are liable to fall behind due to the length of time schools have been shut down, the absence of cram schools and other supplementary educational activities during their senior year, and the trauma and family tragedies that many have to face. On top of this, they need sufficient resources to even take the university exams, which tend to require travel to Tokyo, Sendai or Hokkaido. The exam fees are likely to be waived for many students, but there is no system to support their personal travel, lodging, meals, etc. when they leave their hometowns to take the entrance exams. In many cases, these expenses can easily exceed US$1,000, which will be difficult for families who have lost their homes and businesses to muster.

In response, a group of Tokyo volunteers has launched a new NPO called “Hope for Tomorrow” that plans to help support students by covering these expenses. They have been in touch with the main high schools in Kessennuma and Ishinomaki about this initiative. Kessennnuma had the greatest need, so they have come to an agreement with the high school to start supporting their students, and they hope to expand to other schools, including Ishinomaki’s high school. They are also interested in expanding to Rikuzentakata and open to other suggestions from us about other places. (In May, they tried to speak with the Rikuzentakata authorities as well as those in the neighboring town, Ofunato, where students were attending high school since Rikuzentakata’s high school was badly damaged, but were unable to have discussions due to the overwhelming challenges school officials were facing. However, they hope to try again soon.) In addition to the helping with the exam fees, they also wish to provide mentoring services to the students and other support that can aid them before and after their exams.

Update:  They have expanded to Takata High School (the Rikuzentakata HS, although temporarily being operated in an empty school in Ofunato), because of our funds. Takata High School is delighted, and things are all firmed up now. They are also operating in Kessennuma, and might expand into Ishinomaki or elsewhere if there is additional funding.

2. E.Pa+Ch – $25,000 (

E.Pa+Ch stands for Youth Empowerment Iwate (direct translation:  Empowerment through Participation and Challenge). This group was created by a professor at Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) who has been active in mobilizing college volunteers to work in the disaster zone through a project called “GingaNet.”  The group is planning to launch a major initiative throughout the prefecture to provide tutoring to and study rooms for middle school students who have fallen behind in their studies, with IPU students acting as volunteer tutors. (This may be expanded to high school students taking university entrance exams, in which case professional juku teachers will need to be employed). The board of education expressed support for this, and the IPU professor, Yamamoto-sensei, is going to continue developing the program in consultation with the board. This innovative program was launched on Nov 1, and it possibly will be a model for other programs around Tohoku. CR Jess Wilcox and Fund Committee member Jim Gannon were interviewed regarding our involvement. Read the article here:

3. Rikuzentakata Board of Education – $10,000

This direct contribution to the BoE will help alleviate some immediate needs of the schools, possibly including the hiring of a second JET for the area. There is currently a JET in RT who replaced Monty Dickson and the BoE would like to hire a second.

4. Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund – $5,000 ( )

Many of you are already familiar with the work that the Anderson Family has been conducting. We have made a $5,000 donation to their fund to demonstrate our collective support.

5. Grants for 2-3 JET-related orgs – $10,000+ (To Be Finalized)

We are working with Paul Yoo of volunteerAKITA and Living Dreams who worked with Mike Maher King (Smile Kids Japan). Our grants will help support their grass roots efforts of volunteering in the area, bringing in needed supplies, and ‘filling in the cracks’ where other NGO’s are unable to assist.

TOTAL = $76,000+

Also, many of you might be aware that the JETAA international meeting was held in Tokyo from Oct 21-22. The meeting was covered and televised by NHK news. We also met with various government ministers who thanked us for our efforts to support Japan and asked us for advice on improving the JET program.

After the meeting we volunteered alongside current JETs in Rikuzentakata. We are doing a write up of that emotional experience and will send it to you in the coming days. Being in Rikuzentakata really drove home how important our efforts are. We have the power to get our funds directly in the hands of the people making decisions on the reconstruction effort.

To that end we would like to encourage JETAA chapters to continue fundraising. We now have connections on the ground and can help deploy funds efficiently and effectively. We have been notified that JETAANY will not be able to host the fund next year due to tax reasons, but we will work to find another nonprofit chapter that can help support us. Thank you again JETAANY for all the extra work you took on this year to make the fund a reality!

Lastly, it is always helpful when the JET alumni community is able to remind others of the ongoing needs in Tohoku and share news of JETAA’s accomplishments with others. I strongly encourage each of you and your chapter members to reach out to local news publications, church newsletters, your college and HS alumni magazines, work newsletters, chapter newsletters, etc. A great deal of information can be found on JETwit and the JETAA USA website.  You can also contact members of the JETAA USA Fund Committee or local chapter officers if you need additional information or an official representative or spokesperson.

Stay tuned for more detailed information to follow.


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