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. 


Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice Pilot Program Kick-Off

A Positive Youth Development Mindset 

A Cross-Systems Approach with School & Main Institute, Inc. and Wheelock College

On June 16th, 2016 we will kick-off the Adult & Professional Certificate Program sponsored through Wheelock College Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Department. A panel of experts will provide an overview of course modules, learning goals, competencies to be achieved, field experience, student assessment and hybrid on-line learning models. Participants will collaborate with professionals from all walks of the MA juvenile justice system and work and learn from nationally recognized experts and innovators in the field. The sessions will introduce participants to recognized positive youth development theory and evidence-based practices for youth involved in the juvenile justice system, with a balance of accountability and public safety.

All sessions and seminars will be held on the Wheelock College Boston and Brookline Campus and will be taught by faculty who are specialists in each area and field of study. School and Main Institute and Wheelock College’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy will serve as the primary liaison and facilitators.


LEAP Launch 

Sites and partners met in Baltimore, Maryland April 7-8, 2016 to share their LEAP vision, ideas, and areas of focus. Members of the LEAP communities, staff from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Corporation for National and Community Service/Social Innovation Fund, School & Main Institute, Inc., and national LEAP partner organizations dug into critical LEAP goals and key aspects of implementation to build the LEAP Learning Community, and network. 

LEAP is made possible in part through a $4.5 million grant the Foundation received in August 2015 from the Social Innovation Fund, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering and service programs. The Social Innovation Fund fosters public and private collaborations to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that work.


Early Education & Care Leadership Task Force in Fall River

School & Main Institute will work with the Fall River Public Schools Director of Early Education and Parent Information (and her early child provider partners) to develop a comprehensive Strategic Plan designed to expand high-quality early education opportunities for children ages 2.9 through kindergarten in the city of Fall River by June 2016. This effort supported by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care will develop specific steps and benchmarks for implementing recommendations that address the critical partnership between public school and early education and care programs, identifying the infrastructure needed to meet the elements of accountability and recognized high quality standards, and outlines the required investment strategy to fund, leverage and sustain exceptional services over the long term.

Click here for more information on the initiative. 

Click here for a news piece on Fall River and New Bedford.



LEAP Sites Announced!

As Project Manager for LEAP, School & Main Institute is happy to announce the selected sites: Alaska, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. The LEAP grant program will help more teens and young adults complete high school and postsecondary education and build paths to careers. 

School & Main Institute will work closely with the selected sites, the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of youth. One model, Jobs for the Future’s Back on Track, prepares young people for postsecondary career pathways and supports them during their first year in college. The other, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), helps youth earn a high school credential, develop professional skills and gain employment or enroll in postsecondary education. Through LEAP, the Foundation hopes to identify effective strategies for helping youth and young adults overcome challenges and succeed in school and at work.

For more on the selected sites, please click here.

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.

Read more about what we are currently working on >

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