Nearly 2,500 youth benefitted from the Denver Area Council’s (DAC) Leadership Assistance Program (LeAP) in 2019. LeAP launched in 2012 to provide traditional Scouting programs to boys and girls, ages 6-21, in the Denver Metro Area who are often affected by social and economic hardships. A majority of youth in the program, 60-70%, are Hispanic. The LeAP program has reached more than 20,000 youth since its inception.
“LeAP is a beneficial program that brings youth from all backgrounds together to learn about leadership skills and Scouting values,” says LeAP director, Stephany Mesa-Guerra. “The DAC LeAP team truly enjoys working with the kids and families in this program and watching as they become confident and resourceful trail blazers in their communities.”
LeAP is a structured after-school program that typically takes place from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. The program provides a family oriented safe-space and engaging character development activities on a weekly basis. Trained DAC program aides and volunteers who are passionate about making an impact on youth help implement this program. All LeAP staff seek to instill Scouting values and morals in these youth to help shape them into future leaders. Youth who join the program are provided with free and discounted resources to participate, including uniforms and camperships.
LeAP affords all the following Boy Scouts of America (BSA) programs to its participants: Cub Scouts (ages 5-10), Scouts BSA (ages 11-17), and Venturing (ages 14-20). Additionally, LeAP works with special needs classrooms to deliver the program to youth with unique challenges.
LeAP also partners with Rites of Passage, a residential extended care facility for incarcerated youth facing mental health and trauma issues. The structure and values taught in Scouting contribute to character development traits provided by Rites of Passage treatment programs.
“Scouting has provided all of our youth with valuable hands-on character development skills that benefit them when they have graduated from the program. Even more so, these experiences have provided youth with the insight and opportunity to make Scouting a part of their life and family as they continue to grow,” says Rites of Passage Community Review Board member, Troy Erickson.
More than $600,000 is invested in the LeAP program annually to provide at-risk youth with an opportunity to join Scouting programs. LeAP’s success is attributed to partnerships with more than 90 community organizations including schools, religious institutions, and low-income housing communities.
The DAC LeAP program is made possible through donations, board designations, and grants. United Way funds and the Council’s annual Vale La Pena Awards Reception also help fund the program and pay operational expenses for items including supplies, membership fees, and program aide salaries.
LeAP currently offers six summer programs as well as an overnight adventure camp at Odom Scout Farm in Wheatridge, Colorado. Scouts and families can camp under the stars and participate in outdoor activities such as BB gun shooting, Dutch oven cooking, and crafts. LeAP also participates in an Annual Fishing Derby and Adventure Day event for special needs units, in addition to an advancement program and ceremonies that recognize youth for their achievements.
To contribute to the LeAP program, select the Leadership Assistance Program from the Make a Donation button in this link.