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Healthy Communities Grantee – Multicultural Center Tokyo

By January 23, 2015

By: Chiho Shibayama, Director, Multicultural Center Tokyo

The day in Kamakura spent with Salesforce volunteers was unforgettable for Tabunka (Multicultural in Japanese) Free School students. Some students frolicked on the beach while others eyes lit up when they saw the traditional Japanese temple in the Kamakura suburb of Tokyo. For some, coming from landlocked countries, it was their first time to see an ocean.

salesforce foundation healthy communitites Multicultural Center Tokyo

Tabunka Free School

Those who complete 9 years of education in their home country are usually not accepted by middle schools in Japan. To enter high school, they need to take an entrance exam under almost the same standards as Japanese students, despite the language barrier. However, these youths have neither public support or a place to study for the exams. In addition, some immigrant students cannot find information about higher education and just stay at home.

Considering that the advancement rate in high schools in Japan is at 98%, what will the outcome be if they do not go to high school?

Tabunka Free School was founded in 2005 with a small number of students and teachers in 3DK apartment. We provided an educational opportunity for immigrant teenagers by teaching Japanese, English and Maths, which are mandatory subjects for the entry examination. At that time, there was no other place except our school. Shortly thereafter, around 30-50 students came annually to our school and we have sent more than 300 students to Japanese high school in the last 9 years.

Our Healthy Community project with started in 2013. Our school is not an authorized school and small classrooms are packed with many teenagers. The educational environment is not necessarily good. Our students have no chance to explore Japan and interact with the Japanese people. On this project, and Salesforce volunteers took our students on a one-day school trip to Kamakura, an ancient city, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south-south-west of Tokyo.

Salesforce employees, our students, and teachers formed one team and went around traditional temples, shrines, island and beach. It was a great opportunity for our students to get out from the small classroom and communicate with Salesforce volunteers in Japanese and be exposed to Japanese traditional cultures. “We had a great time with the volunteers and experienced new things such as eating Japanese rice bowl dishes and seeing Big Buddha.” One of students wrote a “Thank you letter” to Salesforce.

Those immigrant teenagers who have difficulty in receiving education do not exist to the public. The school trip is also a valuable opportunity for Salesforce employees to get to know our students and learn the challenges faced by them.

Career Support Program

In 2014, we began working on a career support program for our graduates using the Healthy Communities grant from During the program we track career and academic routes that our graduates have taken after they graduated and provide career advice to them also.

We realized that some students were having difficulty finding employment or deciding to go on to college or university. Often graduates would call to our center and express worry and seek support and advice from us.

Salesforce volunteers developed an application with Salesforce technology to track graduate academic and career records. This enables us to identify their challenges and find a solution to help them with their future. Also, when we come across immigrant youth who have an interest in working in the IT industry, we try to connect them with Salesforce employees for career advice.

Japan is often said to be highly homogeneous, but as the world becomes increasingly borderless, it is time for Japan to enjoy diversification. Living with people from different cultures enables us to find a new discovery. In this way, if those youth can receive proper education, they will be able to play an important role in society. We are very happy that realized their potential and support them together with us.