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National LEAP Convening


National and local LEAP partners came together November 1-3, 2016 in New York City, to share lessons and identify areas for practice and system improvement throughout implementation and evaluation. Partners visited two implementation sites: The Door for those implementing Back on Track and CASES for those implementing Jobs for America’s Graduates. The social-emotional dimensions of how we work and how we support young people often make the difference. In addition to changing young people’s lives, LEAP aims to make fundamental, lasting changes in how our organizations and systems work. This session looked at examples of successful efforts to change systems and policies, and then identify changes you want to target and strategies for doing so.

LEAP implementation is increasing opportunities for 3,000–5,000 youth over the next five years. LEAP offers a unique opportunity to identify effective strategies for enabling youth and young adults involved in systems to make a successful transition to adulthood, equipped with the education and skills they need to not only get a job but to build lifelong careers.

Early Lessons 

  • Young people need strong, caring relationships with adults and networks.
  • To meet youth where they are, we need multiple pathways to education and employment success.
  • Youth engagement is critical.
  • Connections with employers increase access to jobs and labor market networks.
  • We need supportive public systems and policies to achieve impact and scale.
  • There needs to be greater emphasis on racial/ethnic equity and inclusion. 

The partnerships received coaching and technical assistance on designing and implementing their local program. In addition to conducting a national evaluation throughout the initiative, we brought them together to learn from one another and further strengthen system and policy work in the field. 

In a Nutshell

Founded in 1985 at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, School & Main Institute (SMI) has grown into a nationally recognized, independent non-profit training and partnership development organization that has worked with organizations and state agencies in more than 35 states.


School & Main Institute staff and faculty have years of expertise as organizational leaders, program developers, trainers, and facilitators in the fields of education, workforce preparation, youth and community development.

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