The Latino Equity & Advancement Project (LEAP) has two major components: the Escalera STEM Program, a two-year after-school program that promotes economic mobility and equity among local Latino youth through educational excellence and career planning, and the LatiNOLA Now! Youth Coalition, which focuses on building the power and participation of young people working to create a more welcoming and equitable society through a framework that combines creative expression with social action.
The Escalera STEM Program is based on a rigorous 2-year curriculum for juniors and seniors that supports youth leadership development, promotes a culture of learning and educational excellence, and advances economic mobility through college preparation and career planning. Escalera offers a variety of educational and career-building opportunities that focus on cultivating good scholarship and access to post-secondary education while also preserving cultural identity and enrichment. The program is designed to promote economic mobility among Latino youth by increasing educational attainment, career planning, and access to information about advanced careers in the New Orleans metro area. The primary goals of this program include the following: education/skills development with an emphasis on teaching students how to make knowledgeable decisions in their academic careers and become life-long learners; career pathways/exploration in which students develop skills and viable experience necessary to obtain career opportunities that will enhance their economic mobility; leadership development through community action and engagement; and the development of personal skills that enable youth to be agents of change in their families, communities, and professional lives.
These funds will also be used to support the Latinola Now Youth Coalition, a grassroots, multi-racial youth coalition that builds the power and participation of young people working to develop solutions to problems that directly affect them. The coalition focuses on building youth empowerment through creative expression and social action. LatiNOLA youth work together to push for policy changes and to develop creative outlets that advance racial and cultural equity and that actively undermine xenophobic attitudes and narratives about immigrants.