The MTA leads a vision of an academia committed to social justice, and our mission statement marries academic excellence with social inclusion. As part of that, we encourage our students to live in the periphery areas of Jaffa and Southern Tel-Aviv, where many of our social programs operate. Students take part in diverse activities, with different local initiatives and non-profit organizations, and in return receive housing scholarship, funded jointly by MTA and the municipality of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa. The student communities constitute centers of social activity in their neighborhoods.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa has large, and increasing, gaps between residents of different neighborhoods. Residents in the southern areas belong to the lowest national socio-economic percentiles. In recent years, crime levels have soared, and personal security deteriorated. Creating a student 'SOHO' complements the municipal plan of strengthening these areas by fostering social infrastructure.
Among the many projects student-residents are involved with, are: consulting and guiding youth at risk, training youth in sports, accompanying people with special needs, tutoring students at the MTA excellence programs, operating a public library for refugees and migrant workers, educating youth for environmental conservation, and more.
The Student Communities program serves several goals: First, serving marginalized and under-represented social groups and at-risk populations. Second, encouraging civic engagement and voluntarism among students, who are rarely involved in social activities. Finally, aiding to alleviate the burdening cost of living and housing shortage, dire in particular in Tel-Aviv which has the highest rent rates in the country. In this way, the program allows motivated students the time to invest in community work, and accessibility to communities who can benefit from students' work.