The Origin of LEAP
The Leinkauf Historic District Neighborhood Organization, LHDNO, has as one of its primary purposes to work closely with the Leinkauf Elementary School assisting the school to improve its ability to provide a high level of quality education. Leinkauf Elementary, the oldest continuously operating elementary school in Alabama, is a cherished icon by many Leinkauf residents and the surrounding neighborhoods. Many generations of residents have fond memories and attachments to the school because they attended, or their children or grandchildren attended. Others have a connection to the school because they worked there or had family work there. Still others feel an affinity because the school gives hope to a neighborhood that is on the rise.
All public schools struggle to provide the level of education our children need to be prepared in today's world. Much of that struggle is caused by a shortage of funds for programs that make the school experience intriguing and interesting. Programs like the visual arts, music, dance, and theatre have long been lacking in our public schools depriving our children a broader life experience and opportunity to expand their minds and talents.
Leinkauf Elementary is no exception. Our partnership with the school seeks provide those programs again.
21st Century Community Learning Program Grant
In May of 2016, LHDNO was invited by the Leinkauf Elementary Administration to partner with the school in an application for a 21st Century Community Learning Program (CCLC) Grant, a U.S Department of Education program that provides funding to create Community Learning Centers . These learning centers provide academic enrichment to assist at-risk students attending socio-economically challenged or lower performing schools to meet state and local standards in core subject areas.
A very detailed application process was performed by the school and LHDNO to secure a 3 year grant of $150,000 per year that would act as seed money for a continuing program. Services are to be focused on academic enrichment, family involvement, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The arts component of the academic enrichment leg of the program became the initial focus of LHDNO's involvement. Beginning small, a visual arts curriculum was devised by one of LHDNO's members with connections to the local art community. This visual arts curriculum was included in the application for the 21st CCLC grant.
We are pleased to announced that the $150,000 per year, 3 year grant was approved for Leinkauf Elementary with LHDNO being its primary partner for the arts.
What is LEAP?
LEAP, Leinkauf Elementary Arts Project, is an after-school and summer program designed to ensure high quality, expanded learning opportunities which occur outside of regular school hours for children in a safe and sound educational environment.
The LEAP program will include the visual arts, music, dance and theatre.
LHDNO is the primary partner to help provide funds and resources used to expand and sustain the program. The community's partnership with Leinkauf Elementary will contribute to the development of a vision and plan for the program's financial capacity to support and eventually sustain itself after the three-year grant funding ends.
LEAP will start small with 20 students for the initial spring semester beginning in January 2017 with participants chosen who have made application through Leinkauf Elementary. The program will be expanded next year to include two classes of 20 students each. As funding increases, more students will be included in the program.
Although $150,000 sounds like a lot of money for an after school program, it really is only seed money. The 21st CCLC grant not only will cover the LEAP expenses, but also covers a much more comprehensive program called Prepared for Life Program (PLP) which includes reading and math enrichment, homework help, art, technology training, behavioral support and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) activities. The funds from the grant will be used to provide academic support to decrease summer learning loss, provide opportunities for hand-on activities and field trips. As part of community outreach, the program will include adult classes in technology, recreational activities, literacy and parenting.
Hence, the expansive nature of the program will demand funds and support from the community over and above the grant monies appropriated for the next 3 years. If any portion of the program is to be extended beyond the initial 3 year period, then a sustainability fund will need to be established, and that is where LHDNO and other community organizations, businesses, and nonprofit organizations must step forward to assist.
Beginning in the Spring of 2017 and at the culmination of the first year of the program, an exhibition day will be held for the arts portion of the PLP, LEAP. It is hoped that this exhibition will grow into an annual Leinkauf Arts Festival that will be a fund raiser for LEAP and other Leinkauf projects.
Get Involved with LEAP
To be successful in our goal of building a sustaining fund for LEAP, we will be holding various fund raising activities, beginning with our Annual Leinkauf Holiday Family Party December 6th at the Pillars. Please join us if you can. Tickets, available on-line are available for LHDNO members at $5 per person and non-members at $7 per person.
Volunteers will be needed for the Arts Festival and we will be sending out information early next year to attract other artist to participate in the festival. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you can help.
Visual Arts Curriculum
The visual arts curriculum for LEAP was conceived by local artist and resident Nancy Barry, who is the LEAP Visual Arts Director for LHDNO.