A Brief History
The Liberty LEADS Program brings together two Bank Street initiatives that have well-established records of efficacy. These initiatives originally served two constituencies through separate but interconnected programs. The first, the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP), began at Bank Street College in 1989 and has had tremendous success working with youth at risk for dropping out of high school. LLP's accomplishments are readily seen by comparing Board of Education citywide data with LPP data. During LPP’s existence, the average on-time graduation rate citywide was 54 percent. By contrast, an average of 90 percent of LPP youth complete high school on time — a figure that is all the more stunning considering that over three-quarters of the students were originally referred to LPP on the basis of poor academic performance and attended high schools where graduation rates could be below 50 percent. Furthermore 90 percent of LPP students actually applied to and were accepted to college, whereas 63 percent of students citywide report only that they planned to attend college after graduation.
The second program at Bank Street College was known as I-LEAD (Institute for Leadership, Excellence and Academic Development). It served promising high-achieving students at under-resourced parochial schools and prepared them to become competitive applicants to selective colleges and universities. Started at Bank Street College in 2000, the program was based on Liberty's model of youth development and it, too, has been successful. Every year, 100 percent of I-LEAD's graduating seniors were admitted to competitive four-year colleges (including about 18 percent of the students in each class who were accepted at Ivy League schools). On the other hand, the rate of admission to selective schools for a comparison group of students at the students’ high schools was only 34 percent.
In 2005, these two programs were combined to allow us to maintain each program's levels of success while increasing the overall strength of our unified program. We are able to offer the academic challenges and high expectations of I-LEAD to LPP students and the strong supportive environment of LPP with its psychosocial services to I-LEAD students. Too often, despite their best intentions, the high schools these young people attend have neither the time nor the resources, to support a student’s emotional difficulties or to develop a student with exceptional academic needs, whether gifted or struggling. At Liberty LEADS, we have both the time and the dedicated staff to more than meet these needs.