Spotlight: Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership, Inc. (LEAP)

Spotlight: Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership, Inc. (LEAP) – New Haven

Many Yale students, alumni, and faculty have been affiliated with LEAP over its 27-year history. LEAP’s current full-time staff consists of three Yalies: founding Executive Director Henry Fernandez (LAW ‘93), Grant Writer Victoria Wang (YC ‘18), and Recruitment and Volunteer Coordinator Abdul-Razak Zachariah (YC ‘17).

LEAP’s current Board of Directors includes: co-founder and former chair Roslyn Milstein Meyer (YC’ 71; PhD ‘77), Vice-Chair Stephen Wizner (William O. Douglas Clinical Professor Emeritus of Law), Treasurer Susan Biel Kerley (SOM ‘78), Secretary Cynthia Mann (MD ‘76), Director Sharon Brooks (LAW ‘00 and Special Advisor for Strategic Engagement at Yale Law School), Director Marcus McFerren (Residency in Dermatology at YSM), and Director Emeritus Jerome Harris Meyer (MD ‘72 and Lecturer in Psychiatry).

This summer, LEAP has four Yale students as interns and fellows. Spencer Matthaei (YC ‘20) and Brooklin Ballard (YC ‘22) are Senior Counselors at our Dwight-Kensington neighborhood site. At the LEAP Community Center, Francine Rios-Fetchko (YC’ 20) is a Yale President’s Public Service Fellow (and former LEAP Senior Counselor) in the Development Department and Alejandra Corona Ortega (YC ‘19) is a Yale Yawkey Community Service Fellow in the Children’s Program Department. 

LEAP also hosts volunteers and fellows from Yale during the school year. This past academic year, Sidney Saint-Hilaire (YC ‘20), Rina Lakhlani (YC ‘21) and Nathan Kim (YC ‘22) were Dwight Hall Urban Fellows working in our Children’s Program, Finance and Development Departments, respectively. Timothy Dwight College provided a Community Service Fellowship to Elayna Garner (YC ‘20) for her to help us with our Fall semester programming, as well.

Year-round, LEAP builds relationships with local colleges and universities to introduce our children to academic and enrichment opportunities otherwise not available to them due to financial constraints. We also provide college students and staff with meaningful service opportunities in New Haven that help them to develop as community leaders. Some highlights of our Yale partnerships include: 

  • Summer Humanities at Yale: This is a partnership between LEAP and The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition through. A group of 11 and 12-year-old LEAP children participate in workshops led by graduate students focused to Black and Latinx history in New Haven and the United States. These workshops include trips to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Yale University Art Gallery and cultural institutions in New York City.
  • Outdoor Corps: This summer initiative between LEAP and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History allows all of LEAP’s 9 and 10-year-old children to learn about natural and environmental science through classes and trips. This programming is led by the Peabody’s Sci.CORPS youth staff and it includes outdoor exploration as well as a camping trip.
  • Yale Undergraduate-Led After-School Programming: LEAP has brought in some undergraduate groups and individual students to teach semester-long classes with LEAP kids, such as the Yale International Relations Association (YIRA) and the hip-hop student group Rhythmic Blue (RB).

Yale FOCUS on New Haven Pre-Orientation Program: LEAP serves as a host for Dwight Hall’s FOCUS pre-orientation program for first-years and sophomores. FOCUS volunteers join us after our summer program has ended and provide much needed administrative and organizational support as we prepare for the Fall semester. In turn, LEAP staff members speak with these Yalies about their work at LEAP to offer insight on non-profit careers and organizational structure.

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