Since 2009, LEAP (Leadership and Educational Advancement Program) has promoted leadership and college readiness through mentoring and tutoring to youth at Bethune Middle School and 75th Street Elementary School. The program inspires youth through providing positive role models, developing safe learning environments, and demonstrating that education leads to success. Originally, LEAP was created by the Latin American Student Association (LASA) and Hermanos Unidos de UCLA in response to the noticeable lack of students of color in higher education.
LEAP encourages all students to pursue higher education by increasing social awareness and boosting their confidence. The group primarily serves Black and Latino students in underserved communities such as South LA.
On a typical day, LEAP volunteers engage students in conversation over snacks to develop a comfortable environment with time to relax. Afterward, LEAP members lead brief but engaging activities that shed light on social issues, self-empowerment, and other self-reflection themes. In February, for example, the group focused on interactive activities themed around Black History Month. Helping these young students become more aware of issues that affect their communities offers an opportunity to inspire the next generation of leaders.
In addition to social awareness, the group focuses on a variety of academic subjects. In many cases, the activities presented are a one-of-a-kind learning opportunities. To spark interest in the sciences, LEAP’s teaching focuses on STEM topics that youth find fascinating, like electronics and robotics.
LEAP mentees also receive tutoring and assistance with their homework as needed. All sessions conclude with some physical activity to promote long term fitness habits. Soccer matches and kickball tournaments are always a hit among the students and tutors!
Overall, LEAP provides its volunteers with valuable teaching and mentoring skills that can be applied in future professional roles. Volunteers gain skills in leadership, public speaking, and classroom development. Truly, what volunteers value most are the social interactions with the youth and long lasting friendships with service recipients.
The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are honored to award LEAP with the Winter 2017 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for their demonstrated community impact. To learn more about LEAP, check them out on Facebook or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.