LEAP Turns One: A Year In Review

Posted November 17, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog leapturnsone 2017

In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Cor­po­ra­tion for Nation­al and Com­mu­ni­ty Service’s Social Inno­va­tion Fund launched Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial (LEAP)™. This ambi­tious mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ini­tia­tive set out to boost employ­ment and edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple who were nav­i­gat­ing some of life’s most chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances, includ­ing involve­ment in the child wel­fare or jus­tice sys­tems and homelessness.

Read how LEAP helped one young man real­ize his full potential

After one year of imple­men­ta­tion, Casey checks in on LEAP’s ear­ly results and finds that there’s plen­ty to celebrate.

Who’s Using LEAP?

More than 1,200 young peo­ple have enrolled in LEAP. Men make up 47% of this pop­u­la­tion and, while the ini­tia­tive is open to youth ages 15 to 25, the aver­age par­tic­i­pant is 18 years old.

Most enrollees (67%) have nev­er been employed. Many are youth of col­or (39% are African Amer­i­can; 23% are His­pan­ic and 13% are mul­ti-racial; just 18% are white).

Near­ly 40% of all LEAP par­tic­i­pants have crossed paths with the child wel­fare sys­tem and near­ly 30% have expe­ri­enced both the child wel­fare and jus­tice systems.

LEAP youth have also stepped into lead­er­ship roles to guide the initiative’s recruit­ment, engage­ment and reten­tion strate­gies. Four young lead­ers are advis­ing LEAP’s nation­al efforts and there are more than 250 young peo­ple in local lead­er­ship roles. In Octo­ber 2017, the young lead­ers led sev­er­al work­shops involv­ing more than 80 part­ners at a nation­al con­fer­ence in Phoenix.

LEAP’s Reach

LEAP’s work is fueled by 10 local part­ner­ships oper­at­ing in 77 ser­vice loca­tions across 49 cities and eight states.

The LEAP net­work also spans four nation­al orga­ni­za­tions — Jobs for America’s Grad­u­ates, Jobs for the Future, MDRC and School & Main Insti­tute — and hun­dreds of cross-sec­tor part­ners. This diverse sup­port sys­tem includes employ­ers, gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions and work­force devel­op­ment enti­ties as well as child wel­fare and jus­tice agen­cies, post-sec­ondary insti­tu­tions and K‑12 schools and districts.

Togeth­er, these part­ners are mak­ing cru­cial sys­tem and pol­i­cy changes to reduce the bar­ri­ers that youth expe­ri­ence as they pur­sue post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and employment.

For instance:

  • part­ners now receive train­ings on trau­ma-informed care to ensure that encounter car­ing adults in a vari­ety of settings;
  • post­sec­ondary admis­sions and finan­cial aid staff are using ear­ly warn­ing sys­tems to proac­tive­ly address chal­lenges, such as hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty and food inse­cu­ri­ty, that may thwart stu­dent success;
  • orga­ni­za­tions are work­ing across agency lines to sup­port old­er youth and young adults who have tran­si­tioned from fos­ter care; and
  • LEAP alum­ni net­works have formed to help men­tor new enrollees.

LEAP’s Impact

By Sep­tem­ber 2017, par­tic­i­pants were reach­ing key mile­stones in school and work, and these year-one results best­ed the initiative’s base­line numbers.

Ear­ly suc­cess­es include:

  • 298 youth pur­su­ing a post-sec­ondary education;
  • 270 youth secur­ing employment;
  • 239 youth par­tic­i­pat­ing in an intern­ship, on-the-job learn­ing pro­gram or oth­er advanced train­ing; and
  • 80 youth earn­ing their high-school diplo­ma or a GED equivalent.

This data tells a sto­ry about the per­sis­tence, pow­er and resilien­cy of LEAP youth and our part­ners’ ded­i­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tive spir­its,” says Patrice Cromwell, direc­tor of strate­gic ini­tia­tives at the Casey Foun­da­tion. In just over a year, we’ve already start­ed to see what’s pos­si­ble when young peo­ple have car­ing adults in their lives and the right sup­port ser­vices behind them. We couldn’t be more excit­ed to see what year two holds.”

See more of LEAP’s ear­ly progress

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