NJLEEP–A Great Law-Related Program
For the past several years I have had the pleasure of watching the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Program (NJ LEEP) build and grow as it works to help local kids achieve their full potential. NJ LEEP was founded in 2006 in partnership with Seton Hall Law. It works to empower low-income minority youth to perform academically and earn admission to four year colleges and universities.
NJ LEEP provides afterschool tutoring, grammar and writing classes, SAT preparation and various other tools aimed at helping high school students work towards their goal of a college education. The program is modeled off of Legal Outreach, a program that has been working with youth in New York City for 25 years. NJ LEEP’s successes are already apparent. For example, on average NJ LEEP students scored 260 points higher than the average Newark resident on the 2009 SAT. That positive change can be traced directly back to the dedication and importance of this program.
A vital part of NJ LEEP is a mentoring program which pairs lawyers and law students with a NJ LEEP student. Aside from providing a positive role model, mentors help coach the students for four constitutional law debates that are held throughout the year. Constitutional law is a challenging and complicated subject that has a way of baffling law students and lawyers alike, yet these high school students grasp the key legal concepts and present a 5 minute oral argument with great skill and intelligence. This progress would not be possible without the dedicated LEEP staff and also the volunteer mentors. NJ LEEP also places law students in city schools to teach constitutional law and trial practice. To date, NJ LEEP has worked with 13 urban high school and elementary schools through this program.
I am consistently impressed with the positive impact NJ LEEP programming has on its students. As someone who loves the Constitution and believes in the power of education, I fully believe in the way NJ LEEP uses the law and education to empower these young adults towards achieving their full potential. I strongly encourage you to contact the program and find out more—and I challenge you to pitch in, in your community. You can find out more about NJLEEP at www.njleep.org.