Liberty LEADS is guided by the principle that all children have gifts, talents and great potential, and can contribute to one another's social and academic growth. What distinguishes the program from other after-school programs for urban youth is the fact that it successfully serves a remarkably diverse group of students. It offers comprehensive educational opportunities both to high-achieving students on track for admission to selective colleges and to students who are struggling and / or at risk of dropping out of school. More than 300 young people in fifth through twelfth grades participate in our programs. Every student is helped to fulfill his or her academic potential and acquire strong leadership skills and a sense of civic responsibility. All students have access to a wide range of academic resources, college prep classes, counseling, mentoring and enrichment activities. In addition, Liberty LEADS offers all students a comprehensive support system based on ongoing relationships with caring adults who give every young person consistent and individual attention. With these strong supports our students discover their gifts, challenge themselves, take ownership of their education, and expand their horizons beyond what they had ever imagined possible. Students are admitted to the program in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades.
Six days a week for 11 months per year, students who come to Liberty LEADS participate in a comprehensive set of educational programs designed to meet their cognitive, social and personal needs. The students who enroll in the center live in communities such as Harlem, the South Bronx, Washington Heights, East New York, Flatbush and Crown Heights, which are widely recognized as low-income, high-risk, underserved neighborhoods. Sixty-four percent of the students are Latino; 23 percent are African American; 7 percent multiracial; 5 percent Asian; and 1 percent white. Fifty-three percent of the Center students are male and 47 percent are female. Many of the students face great challenges: poverty, unstable family situations, and difficulties with English language acquisition. Whatever problems and difficulties the students bring to the program when they enroll, they leave the program as high school graduates, ready to enter college or the workforce armed with the skills to build meaningful lives for themselves and make significant contributions to their communities.