Improving K-12 Education

LEAP

There are few things in life that really fire me up – and very few educational policies that do – but trust me on this – the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) initiative is one that does!

Here’s why:  this program simply recognizes that the K-12 system, for all its challenges in serving low-income kids well, is important and here to stay.  Kids need the academics a school can provide along with a safe place to be during the day.  The LEAP program supplements schooling – it doesn’t want to replace it.

The LEAP initiative sits alongside schools, supplementing what kids get with additional and important academic and enrichment opportunities.  While universally available to Colorado’s kids, it is targeted to help low-income families the most.  Qualifying kids would receive about $1,500/year for their use in purchasing out-of-school learning activities and lessons.  Given that nearly 75% of a child’s time is spent outside the classroom, this is an opportunity that we shouldn’t miss.

Think back to when you were a kid.  What activities did you participate in and learn from?  Sports? Summer camps?  Individual tutoring?  Driver’s education? Music instruction?  Rock climbing?  Each of these activities provide strong instruction for young people – yet they’re not universally available.  I was the lucky recipient of several of these opportunities, but only because my parents could afford them.

Middle-income parents now spend upwards of $6,500/year/child on out-of-school activities.  Many spend more.  But if you don’t have the resources, you can’t purchase these important learning opportunities – no matter how much you love your child.  I think back to the summer camps I went to, eventually becoming a camp counselor and launching my love of the out of doors and leading finally to a career with Outward Bound.  Same thing for my brother who got drum lessons and went on to become a professional musician.  Neither of these could have happened if our parents didn’t have the resources to invest in our passions.

So, let’s trust that low-income parents love their children as all parents do – and trust that they know best what activities and opportunities their children will benefit from.  LEAP invests in them and I can’t think of any statewide policy that fires me up like it does!

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Written By: Tony Lewis

For over 20 years Tony has had the incredible opportunity to work at the Foundation.  In that time he has...

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