LEDA

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Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America – LEDA – was founded in 2003 by Gary Simons, founder of New York City's highly regarded Prep for Prep program. It is now the preeminent national nonprofit organization dedicated to diversifying the national leadership pipeline by helping high-achieving students from under-resourced backgrounds gain admission to our nation's most selective colleges and supporting their success at these institutions.
Each year, we recruit a new cohort of LEDA Scholars – 100 qualified high school juniors who show leadership potential but lack the exposure and support they need to attend highly selective colleges. LEDA Scholars receive leadership training, writing instruction, standardized test preparation and a year of highly personalized guidance as they navigate the application and admissions process at the most competitive colleges. Throughout college and beyond, Scholars are offered ongoing advising, career counseling, postgraduate planning and community-building support to help them succeed and lead.

LEDA has been recognized as an emerging leader not only in the national effort to improve college access for low-income students but in the real difference we make for students once they get there. In 2014, we participated in the first White House Summit on College Opportunity for Low-Income Students – a recognition of the impact our distinct approach has on the success of our Scholars in college and far beyond.

To be eligible to apply, a student:

  • Must be a junior attending a public high school in the U.S., graduating in 2023
  • Is a U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, or has DACA Status
  • Has an annual household income under $90,000
  • Has a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5

LEDA reviews each application individually, meaning that we consider all factors of a student’s application when making an admission decision. LEDA will review every application we receive, so we encourage any student who is interested and believes they could be a fit for the program to apply.

Successful applicants demonstrate:

  • A desire to be challenged academically
  • A strong commitment to their studies
  • A desire to be a leader in their families, schools, and communities
  • A connection to LEDA’s Core Values of Excellence, Integrity, Compassion, and Community

Part I of the 2021-2022 LEDA application requires:

  • An academic profile filled out by a high school counselor
  • A biographical information section
  • A financial information section filled out by a parent/guardian
  • A graded essay with teacher comments
  • A personal statement and a supplemental essay
  • Information on responsibilities, activities, and leadership outside of the classroom
  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher

Students who advance to Part II of the application process will be asked to provide their guardians’ tax return(s); the applicant’s record of citizenship, residency, or DACA status; and updated academic information.

Finalists for the program will participate in an interview with LEDA staff.

To learn more or start an application, click here.

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