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Because of LEAP »

LEAP means a lot to me. It's like I have another family to help me. I can now take a stand for myself and achieve things I never could before. "

—Tawaka, age 13

About Us

LEAPís mission is to develop the strengths and talents of young leaders who implement year-round, community and school-based programming designed to achieve positive academic and social outcomes for children living in high poverty urban neighborhoods.

Since 1992, LEAP has led the movement to provide children and youth with opportunities to thrive in all areas of their lives.  LEAP reaches into neighborhoods that are laden with a shortage of positive resources, and we empower the children and youth of these communities to be positive resources themselves.  The very essence of LEAP stands for the primary components of a developing studentís life:

  • Leadership teaches students to make careful and safe choices;
  • Education serves as the tool to make and pursue dreams;
  • Athletics, arts and other cultural experiences bring meaning and confidence into life; and
  • Partnerships bring families, schools and community organizations together to create and sustain a landscape ripe for leadership, education and enrichmentófor ALL children.

LEAP currently serves children in New Haven, CT. Our multi-tiered mentoring model pairs one civic-minded college student (Senior Counselor) with one high school student (Junior Counselor), who together work with a group of 8 children of the same gender and age-range from the same neighborhood or public school.  Junior Counselors participate in a separate youth development curriculum four days of the week and then meet with the children once weekly.  During the school year, children meet with their Senior Counselor every day after school for homework assistance, academic support and enrichment activities.  In the summer, children enjoy a full-day program, with classroom time in the morning and experiential learning opportunities in the afternoon.  LEAPís holistic approach combines homework assistance, academic support, enrichment and social activities all in one program.

Continually throughout the year, Senior Counselors attend training workshops.  This professional development is part of the organizationís targeted goal for children to see learning as a life-long endeavor.  Whether in the Childrenís Program or the Youth Development Program, all people at LEAP are members of a community that supports their personal, educational and professional development and cultivates their value for self, education, and community.


Our 7-12 year olds learn and grow in a positive, safe and educational environment.

The Childrenís Program, currently operating year-round in three high-poverty New Haven neighborhoods, provides 250-300 children ages 7-12 with summer and after school programming to develop academically and socially.  LEAPís programming addresses the whole child, with activities in reading, arts, athletics and interpersonal skill-building tasks.  With the educational reforms re-shaping New Havenís schools, LEAP is poised in an important place as one of the chief providers of OST (out-of-school-time) programming.  The New Haven School Change Initiative has recognized OST organizations as key partners in the movement toward closing the achievement gap.  To this aim, LEAP supports New Haven Public Schools.  Our curriculum aligns with district standards, and our after-school program offers children three distinct benefits:  Academic Support, Academic Remediation and Academic Enrichment.  Senior Counselors engage children in math, reading and writing lessons while building social skills within a team of peers. 

To broaden our childrenís world view, LEAP also provides extracurricular activities not easily accessible to youngsters.  Every day after homework and curriculum time, children attend an age-appropriate Club of their choosing.  Some examples include African Drumming, Cooking, Archeology, and Girl Scouts.  Led by Senior Counselors, these Clubs expose children to new ideas and skills while making learning fun.  Using best practices, LEAP provides children with an engaging after-school program that increases their learning capacity and expands the way they think about education, themselves and the world. 


Middle school and high school students are mentors-in-training as they develop themselves and serve as role models for LEAP children.

In addition to our Childrenís Program, LEAP runs a vibrant Youth Development Program for middle and high school students.  Youth ages 13 through 15 are part of the Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program, and students ages 16 through 18 participate in the Junior Counselor initiative.

Leaders-in-Training (LITs), most of whom are former LEAP children, participate in a structured set of programs that help develop them into college-bound youth.  Every day after school, the LEAP Community Center is alive with active LITs.  They attend college preparatory workshops, plan social awareness events, meet with community activists, experience camping trips and strengthen their academic skills.  The unique LIT program bridges the childrenís program (ages 6-12) and the Junior Counselor program (ages 16-18).

Motivated, college-bound high school students from the New Haven area serve as Junior Counselor.  They participate in the College Summit program, SAT preparation, volunteerism activities and travel abroad opportunities.  JCs serve as role models for children and LITs as well. 


Senior Counselors believe in the potential of all children and implement a curriculum that supports their success in school and beyond.

LEAP hires exemplary college students who possess a passion for education and a belief in the potential of all children.  They receive extensive training on topics ranging from child development and effective reading strategies to CPR and First Aid.  Senior Counselors (SCs) manage and mentor a group of 8 children.  They implement curriculum and plan and lead afterschool clubs and field trips.  In addition, they attend regular workshops and trainings to further develop themselves as leaders and scholars.  During the summer, Senior Counselors live in LEAP-sponsored housing in our childrenís neighborhoods and thus become a strong fabric in our LEAPersí lives.