LEDA News – December 2021


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A Year in Review

Take a look back at all of the exciting things that have happened at LEDA this year!

It’s been an incredibly rewarding and uniquely challenging year at LEDA. Even as all of us continued to cope with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at LEDA found opportunities to develop new initiatives and rethink old LEDA traditions to get the most out of the virtual environments that have become crucial fixtures in many people’s lives. We are so proud of the LEDA Community for its creativity, perseverance, and commitment to mutual support. Click the links below to see some of our 2021 highlights and 2022 previews, and scroll down for even more of the latest LEDA news!


98% of Cohort 16 LEDA Scholars were admitted to one of the top colleges in the U.S. Click here to learn more about our college admissions results.


Our community welcomed a new Cohort of LEDA Scholars. Click here to get to know them on their dedicated Instagram account.


LEDA’s first-ever virtual Annual Celebration was a fantastic success. Click here to learn more about this unique event and our 2021 honorees.


The first LEDA Law School Summit helped students learn about law school and careers in law. Click here for more on this new resource.


Cohort 17 attended the virtual Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute. Click here for more about a signature LEDA program.


The 2020-2021 Policy Corps term ended, with Corps members publishing nearly a dozen op-ed pieces. Click here to read their perspectives.


A new class of LEDA Career Fellows attended the annual LEDA Career Institute. Click here for a recap of this year’s virtual program.


In-person LEDA events started up again, including college campus meet-ups. Click here to see how the LEDA Community came together.


LEDA Scholars are applying what they learned during the Summer Institute. Click here for updates on their leadership in action.


Help LEDA finish strong in 2021 and hit the ground running in the new year. Click here to make a fully tax-deductible donation.

January 2022

We have exciting plans for 2022, such as a career coach pilot program. Click here for a sneak peek of the future of LEDA.

May 2022

Mark your calendar: the 2022 LEDA Annual Celebration will be held on May 12, 2022! Click here to share our digital Save-the-Date card.

Virtual Summer Institute

The annual Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute ran from June 19 to August 7, held on LEDA’s virtual campus via Zoom. We were delighted to spend seven weeks getting to know our newest 102 LEDA Scholars in Cohort 17 and introducing them to the broader LEDA Community.

A “class photo” during the first Zoom session on the first day of the Summer Institute

Building on the experience we developed in 2020, our team was once again successful in turning a remote environment into a true LEDA experience. One Scholar summarized the summer as follows: “I went into the Summer Institute unsure, but I started putting effort into making it everything I wanted it to be. I really found a small support system that was more than enough for me in so many ways. The things you learn really push you to think about the kind of person you want to be in the real world, the kind of leader you can be, the kind of Scholar you are.”

Virtual Career Institute

Our 2021 LEDA Career Institute was held from August 7 through August 11, with 103 new LEDA Career Fellows from 50 colleges entering as the newest participants in our career exploration and professional skills development initiative. A number of LEDA alumni served as mentors, coaches, and presenters, either as Career Institute staff or through their employers, to contribute to the success of the program and serve as a direct link to the larger LEDA Community.

2021 LEDA Career Institute - Alumni Panel
LEDA alumni present a panel on imposter syndrome in the workplace during the Career Institute

We were also excited to welcome 18 employer partners, working with LEDA staff to provide programming. Sessions adapted from prior years included core career development workshops to help lay the foundation for career exploration and build career competencies, industry career panels to provide an introduction to an array of professional fields, and information sessions and “office hours” hosted by employer partners for Fellows interested in specific organizations. One-on-one career coaching appointments allowed Fellows to begin developing action steps toward their professional interests and goals, and a prioritization of fun community events and debrief sessions with our Career Mentors created spaces for meaningful interactions with staff and other Career Fellows.

Community Updates: Community Impact Project

Catch up on some of the exciting things that have been happening in our community

We checked in with some of the Scholars who gave winning presentations at the Community Impact Project Conference during this year’s Summer Institute to see how their projects have been progressing – LEDA in action!

AgnesAgnes’ project helps students feel more comfortable and prepared for the college application process by partnering with teachers and community-based organizations (CBOs) to create informational materials and events. So far, her Mind the Gap program has partnered with faculty at several schools in her district and with a CBO to provide writing instruction and application advising. She has also organized grade-wide and school-wide information sessions. She is also using the knowledge and skill set she developed at LEDA to serve as a mentor for her peers.

AxelAxel’s project is Build-Esperanza, which will support and empower Latinx, Spanish-speaking families in his community by expanding access to information about higher education – not unlike LEDA! Currently, Build-Esperanza is well on its way to reaching its target of 100 followers by the end of 2021 on Instagram as part of its initial awareness campaign. Axel plans to continue building the project’s audience steadily and has already begun receiving messages of gratitude from students who have benefitted from his project.

CharlizeCharlize’s My Choice Store will serve as a food pantry where community residents can “shop” for fresh produce at no cost. Customers and store offerings will be assigned points based on several factors, such as household size and product availability. Since the summer, Charlize has solidified commitments from local food distribution organizations and conducted trial runs with an online store ahead of opening a physical storefront. She and her team are in the process of creating informational materials ahead of the store’s formal launch.

DiorDior is working to create opportunities for people of color (POC) youth in her school district to learn more about careers in the technology sector and begin developing the skills to pursue them. The Tech Initiative places a particular emphasis on serving under-represented populations in tech, such as Black, Latinx, and Native American students. Dior has had several successful meetings with advisors and sponsors, and she started recruiting tutors for the initial launch. She is also planning several field trips as part of the program.

GraceGrace’s project works with her church to create a check-in system for senior citizens and disabled church members and relay their needs to church leadership. Her Never Forgotten initiative will address a lack of communication in the past that has left senior and disabled members unable to access resources. Since the summer, she has formally presented her proposal to church leadership and is in the process of finding volunteer youth and elderly members for the start-up phase. The project is on track for its December launch date.

Looking Ahead: Career Coach Pilot Program

Career Coach Program LaunchLEDA is launching an exciting new initiative: our Career Coach Program! This pilot will kick-off in January 2022 through June 2022 and provide LEDA Scholars, Career Fellows, and new alumni with even more individualized advising through our LEDA Career Coaches, volunteers drawn from staff at our founding corporate partners. We recognize that providing support for our students in their transition from college to career is a key part of supporting their leadership journeys. Our long-term vision is for every LEDA college student and recent graduate to have access to a coach who can provide a range of ongoing, personalized support, including general and industry-specific résumés and cover letters; interviewing and networking skills; and accessing career exploration resources. LEDA will provide coaches with training and materials to aid them with their student coaching sessions. We are grateful for the employer partners – Blackstone, Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Standard Chartered – that believe in LEDA’s vision and will be standing with us to empower our society’s future leaders. Stay tuned for updates in 2022!

Looking Ahead: Together Again

2021-2022 LEDA Policy CorpsWe are thrilled to report that LEDA has resumed some in-person events for our students! This fall, the newly assembled 2021-2022 LEDA Policy Corps met in Washington, D.C., for a three-day training session to start off the new term. “I’m grateful to have had the space to hear from others and use our different experiences to deepen the conversation about education justice,” said one Corps member.

This was the first opportunity in over 18 months for LEDA to physically bring students together from all across the country. All participants were fully vaccinated, provided negative COVID-19 test results from 72 hours prior to traveling, and wore masks during indoor activities. The in-person training was supplemented with virtual events, such as a networking panel and meetings with Capitol Hill staff. “I really enjoyed the opportunities to speak to people who work on the Hill,” shared another Corps member, “as we were able to get an idea of the kind of work that is available in the policy space in D.C. and what it consists of.”

LEDA’s College Success team also began organizing campus meet-ups again, with visits to Princeton University and Columbia University/Barnard College, and Scholar-organized events at Brown and Yale Universities.

CS Meetup Fall 2021 - BrownCS Meetup Fall 2021 - ColumbiaCS Meetup Fall 2021 - PrincetonCS Meetup Fall 2021 - Yale
Brown University meetupColumbia University/Barnard College campus visitPrinceton University campus visitYale University meetup

We are excited and grateful to see our Scholars, Career Fellows, and alumni out in the world once again, and we will continue to monitor public health best practices to identify more opportunities to host the LEDA Community. More events to come in 2022!

Published December 22, 2021

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