LEAP Initiative Increasing College Readiness – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

LEAP Initiative Increasing College Readiness

Leap_Program_2Since its official launch during the 2015-16 school year, the Geneva High School (GHS) LEAP Initiative has been able to provide increased opportunities for underrepresented students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades to take advanced and college-level courses.

LEAP, which is designed to encourage, support and assist African American and Latino students in their academic pursuits, has enabled nearly 70 students of color to enroll in high-level classes, specifically Advanced Placement (AP) and Gemini classes through Finger Lakes Community College.

Currently, there are 55 students scheduled in 10 sections of LEAP, with half enrolled in AP or Gemini courses and 18 percent taking multiple AP or Gemini classes. Nearly 50 percent of LEAP students have maintained a “B” or higher average in AP classes.

LEAP’s impact is part of a broader communitywide effort achieved through Geneva 2020, which is working on increasing graduation rates, improving literacy, boosting college and career readiness, and ensuring every child enters school ready to learn. The Geneva Education Foundation, which was formed in 2014 to provide critical financial resources to Geneva 2020’s priority areas, has helped cover the cost of AP exams for 44 GHS students.

LEAP Director Patrisha Blue ’77 says LEAP and Geneva 2020 have helped to advance the graduation rate and college readiness, but there’s more work to be done. She says that LEAP, which stands for “Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, Progress,” requires a major shift from the norm on the part of all parties—school administrators and faculty, parents, the community and students.

“LEAP requires that students understand and share responsibility not only for their own success, but also for the success of their peers,” Blue says. “LEAP is an action-oriented acronym because radical action will be required to narrow the achievement gap.”

Since launching, LEAP has gained momentum at GHS, prioritizing efforts in four key areas:

  • Continue to increase the graduation rate for African American and Latino students;
  • Support, motivate and assist students enrolled in grade level classes through the provision of tutorial, mentoring and cultural enrichments programs;
  • Recruit students currently enrolled in grade level courses that should be enrolled in AP or Gemini classes; and
  • Provide support services to African American and Latino students currently enrolled in AP classes.

LEAP classes convene daily at GHS. Students routinely come to class to complete their homework assignments, receive tutorial assistance and review their academic standing and assignments with Blue. Students also receive instruction in goal setting, time management and personal conduct and engage in class discussions on a wide variety of issues.

These sessions also give students the opportunity to learn about educational opportunities and requirements from college representatives. On April 28, for example, students in LEAD had the opportunity to visit Syracuse University along with Blue and Mary Kubinski ’17, who organized the trip on behalf of the Geneva 2020 theme house. The trip gave students the opportunity to tour their campus and learn more about the academics and programs unique to colleges, and was sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) at HWS.

Recent guests include: Ithaca Mayor and HWS Presidential Fellow Svante Myrick; HWS Director of Academic Opportunity Programs James Burruto; Dean of Enrollment at University of Rochester Joseph Latimer; Bard College Director of Residential Life Darnell Pierce, the Colleges’ former assistant director of Residential Education & Club Sports; and Kath Fuchs, formerly affiliated with Jones College in Jacksonville, Fla.

For more information about LEAP, contact Blue at blue@hws.edu. For information about Geneva 2020, including how to contribute, contact Geneva 2020 Program Coordinator Amy Jackson Sellers at (315) 781-3825, or sellers@hws.edu.