The Honorable Ms. Margaret Spellings, The Secretary of the Department of Education, states "You know that the end of an education is the beginning of a life-one that can be rich and rewarding for those who are well prepared."
Launching Educational Assistance Programs Forward Inc. (LEAP Forward, Inc.) is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization established to provide hope and opportunity with excellence, dedication and commitment to youth.
As products of hope and opportunity ourselves and knowing the impact of introducing youth to new and nontraditional experiences, we use our knowledge base to guide them through their life�s journey. And yes, we agree that preparation is key.
Today, too many disadvantaged youth are not focused and are not making good life choices. Their academic achievement is low and there is a decline in the number of youth pursuing nontraditional technical careers, while, opportunities are growing in most math and science oriented careers.
Organized unofficially in 1998, LEAP Forward, Inc. seeks to
- Expose youth to math and science careers with an emphasis on engineering;
- Provide educational financial assistance to economically disadvantaged youth through scholarships;
- Expose youth to technical careers options through seminars and industry tours;
- Introduce college life through college visits and tours;
- Advocate and assist in preparing necessary documentation to pursue post secondary education or vocational training.
Officially recognized in 2001 by the IRS, LEAP Forward, Inc. began a journey that included the following highlights:
- Conducted 9 college tours to schools such as Howard University, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Tennessee State University, Fisk University, University of Maryland, Meharry University, Vanderbilt University and University of Pennsylvania.
- Awarded over 40 Wallace Lorenzo Leeper Memorial Book Scholarships. Awards were made to students attending schools such as Bowie State University, Morgan State University, MIT, University of Maryland, College of Southern Maryland, Tennessee State University, etc. Some of the college graduates have gone on to become teachers, engineers, correctional officers, etc. Others continue to pursue academic goals that will result in careers in biology, education, marketing, etc.
- Presented math and science (engineering) career options to hundreds of students at career and college fairs held at numerous Elementary, Middle and High Schools, community events, job shadow days, and other venues. Distributed engineering and science career literature and responded to questions.
- Served as advocates for youth in which parents and/or grandparents were not knowledgeable about the higher education process. Assisted numerous youth in preparing financial aid forms, college applications, college essays, and resumes.
- Encouraged and motivated youth to participate in the Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE) programs at TSU. The results have been, two minority women graduates from TSU with engineering degrees (2002, 2004). Two additional students will graduate in May 2008.
- LEAP Forward, Inc. was instrumental in bringing, the Maryland Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program to Calvert County, Maryland. LEAP Forward, Inc. introduced numerous students to math and science career fields during MESA's high school day events in conjunction with the Black Engineers of the Year Awards Conference in Baltimore, MD. President, Rhonda Thomas, presented the MESA program to a member of the Calvert County School Board and subsequently the program was adopted Countywide. A first for the MESA program! Many students now participate in the program and various county schools have won numerous awards during MESA competitions.
- Exposed youth to engineering programs by participating in engineering summer camps and conferences sponsored by organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers and the Engineering Awards Conference.
Our Mission: We serve minority youth from underrepresented ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Through personal mentoring and providing them with social and cultural enrichment activities to include (but not limited to) career training and exposure, informational seminars, field trips and educational support services that foster positive self-esteem, academic excellence, and a comprehensive awareness of technical career options. Our goal is to provide academic enrichment that promotes achievement among youth that have otherwise been considered "at-risk."
Our Vision: We enable a generation of minority youth who accept the challenge to become academically prepared to enter math and science-based careers by becoming the problem solvers and productive leaders who address the needs of all humanity. We wish to produce a society of engineers, researchers, mathematicians, and scientists that will improve the conditions and livelihood of all mankind.
Our Core Values: Excellence, Dedication, and Commitment. We believe:
- Excellence should be displayed in all we do and that all youth can achieve excellence when given an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Dedication to our youth is necessary to meet their needs.
- Commitment embraces commitment and as we make deposits in the lives of youth they will commit to society.
Our Core Philosophy is:
Enhance your Life with an Early Start and a Perfect Finish.