The Leaders through Education, Action, and Hope (LEAH) Project is a science education and youth development initiative that helps low-income high school students of color succeed academically and pursue higher education and/or careers. The LEAH Project’s mission is to cultivate the power of youth to transform their lives and communities through science, education, and service. LEAH recruits, trains, and supports Boston Public Schools (BPS) high school students to become “Mentors” for elementary school students in out-of-school time (OST) programs throughout Boston. Mentors teach elementary school students science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), provide critical academic support, and serve as powerful role models for positive behavior and academic achievement.
The LEAH Project’s objective is to support LEAH Mentors to: a) sustain motivation for academic success, particularly in STEM fields; b) grow as community leaders; c) gain professional experience to increase employability, and; d) be inspired to pursue goals beyond high school graduation. The LEAH Project also aims to increase science instructional time for BPS elementary students taught by the Mentors to increase their exposure to and interest in STEM.
To work towards these goals, LEAH Mentors complete an intensive 32-hour training, where they learn an evidence-based science and literacy curriculum, acquire skills and tools for supporting literacy and science education in the after-school setting, and gain job-readiness, curriculum/lesson-planning, goal-setting and leadership skills. Mentors meet together with LEAH staff weekly to build relationships with peers and practice concrete skills. LEAH staff meet one-on-one with Mentors to create individualized academic plans and provide college application support. Additionally, Mentors have opportunities to meet successful STEM professionals, visit science facilities, and visit colleges. By providing critical academic support and concrete skills, the LEAH Project prepares Mentors, many of who will be first generation college students, for success in college and in future careers.