Empowering students to Learn, Explore, Aspire and Pursue
The Why Of What We Do
The need for these programs is paramount:
- Societal inequities cause a growing opportunity gap that disadvantages many students, especially our youth of color.
- Only 38.2% of Massachusetts students graduate from a four-year post-secondary school in four years.
- In 2020, 70% of Massachusetts jobs required a post-secondary degree.
- Two out of three employers cannot find employees with the necessary skills to fill job openings.
- Youth who do not have a post-secondary credential are at higher risk for unemployment and significantly lower lifetime earnings.
LEAP’s Approach to Student SuccessOur Model (The How)
Students develop a belief in themselves and confidence to pursue the future they want. LEAP provides mentoring programs and opportunities for students to build interpersonal skills such as communication and intrapersonal skills such as self-advocacy.
Students learn in a variety of settings that broaden their academic knowledge. Project-based and experiential learning helps students see the connections between academics and career paths and develop 21st century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.
Education & Career
Students participate in education and career development lessons and workshops to help them chart a course for their future. Students identify their strengths and interests and connect them to educational pathways and careers with ongoing support from advisors. With an education and career plan, students get college access help including admissions, financial aid and scholarships.
Students build a supportive network.
LEAP provides students with multiple opportunities to develop their relationship-building skills by connecting with business professionals, peers, alumni, teachers, community members, and career mentors in both formal and informal settings.
Salem Cyberspace Opens
LEAP for Education opened up in 2002 under the name Salem CyberSpace as part of NSCAP (North Shore Community Actions Program). NSCAP “hired” Linda Saris (as a volunteer) to set up a drop-in, free, Internet cafe in a low-income neighborhood. It soon became clear that the community needed more than just computers and Internet to make a difference in closing the “Digital Divide.”
First Computer Skills Class for Adults
As an adult education center, Salem CyberSpace created innovative curricula to help its students bridge the “Digital Divide” and taught Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, and Adobe Creative Suite. Morning computer training programs provided needed office skills for many low-income and unemployed adults. During the recession years of 2008 -2012, Salem CyberSpace trained over 500 adults. In order to focus on youth, it discontinued the adult literacy program in 2013.
Start of First Youth Program
Responding to the demand of the community and a meteoric rise in youth participation, Salem CyberSpace became a community academic learning center dedicated to expanding academic and career opportunities for low-income, youth ages 11 – 18. STEM was (and continues to be) an important component of LEAP’s academic enrichment programs.
The College Success Program Opens in Salem
With a growing number of high school students approaching college age, LEAP responded to the need for college access services for first-generation-to-college students by starting the College Success Program.
Partnership With Salem Public Schools to Open a Middle School Program
LEAP partnered with the Salem Public School district to provide after-school and summer programming, called Expanding Horizons, to middle school youth with a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.
College Success Program Expands to Peabody and Gloucester
On the heels of the positive outcomes from our Salem College Success Program, the Department of Higher Education provided funding to expand the program to Peabody and Gloucester. The program in Gloucester was closed in 2016.
Teen Center Opens
LEAP opened the first teen-only youth center at its new location at Shetland Park offering academic support, enrichment, mentoring and civic engagement programs.
Gloucester Partnership for After-School Program
From 2016 to 2019, Gloucester Public School district contracted with LEAP to write improvement plans for its high school and middle school 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and oversee the implementation of the plans. LEAP discontinued its contract with the high school in 2017 and middle school in 2019.
Career Services Expands
LEAP expanded its focus to Career Services, recognizing that post-secondary success is more likely when students have identified one or more career pathways that match their interests while still in high school.
First Summer Work Program
In-person work placements and internships were identified for youth from Gloucester and Salem, helping them build career skills and gain experience for their resume.
Partnership with Salem State on Early College
Salem State University contracts with LEAP to provide college access and readiness services for high school students enrolled in Salem High School’s first early college program.
Partnership with Lynn Public Schools to Open a Middle School Program
LEAP partnered with the Lynn Public School district to open an after-school and summer program called Dream MORE with a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.
Business Partner Network Created
In 2020, LEAP created the Business Partner Network, a partnership between LEAP and area businesses to bring career information and opportunities to its students.
DEIA Committee Launches
In 2021, LEAP initiated a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy initiative to ensure an organizational culture that respects the unique needs, perspectives and potential of its staff, volunteers, students, families and community partners.