LEDA News – Spring 2017


Cohort 12 College Admissions Results

LEDA Cohort 12 Scholars Dana and DanielleLEDA is proud to report that it has been another outstanding year for our Scholars who have applied to college! Our second Cohort of 100 Scholars saw their hard work pay off in March as they received admission offers from many of the top colleges and universities in the nation. 99% of Cohort 12 was admitted to at least one Most Competitive school, as classified by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, including 63% who were admitted to at least one Ivy League school, MIT, or Stanford.

LEDA Scholars’ accomplishments in college acceptances demonstrates that not only are there an abundance of talented young leaders from low-income backgrounds who have the potential to succeed at top institutions, but the data also confirms that these colleges are seeking out our LEDA Scholars. As The Atlantic reported in a recent article, “Elite colleges are most valuable for the students they are least likely to admit,” namely, low-income students from under-resourced backgrounds. With the support of LEDA’s College Guidance team, LEDA Scholars once again proved to be exceptional even in an extremely competitive applicant pool.

“The devoted LEDA staff successfully guided me through the entire college application process, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have made it to where I am without them,” said LEDA Cohort 12 Scholar Dana (left, with sister and fellow LEDA Scholar Danielle in photo above). “With LEDA’s support, I was admitted to Princeton, the top university in the United States.

Throughout April, LEDA’s College Guidance team will continue to advise Cohort 12 Scholars as they visit colleges, review their financial aid packages, and, ultimately, decide where they will spend the next four years developing as leaders. Click here to see a full list of where our Scholars were admitted, and don’t miss our next newsletter to see where they matriculate in the fall.

Congratulations, Cohort 12!

2017 LEDA Reception

LEDA Scholars at thee 2017 LEDA Reception

On January 31, more than 260 LEDA Scholars, staff, and supporters gathered to celebrate our Scholars’ achievements at LEDA’s Annual Reception. LEDA was honored to feature J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis, as our keynote speaker. J.D. shared the story of his journey from rural Ohio to Yale Law School and commended LEDA for our dedication to supporting exceptional students from under-resourced communities. He praised LEDA for helping Scholars develop not just their academic and leadership skills, but also for supporting them to build the social capital necessary to navigate environments of privilege.

LEDA 2017 Reception – J.D. Vance“What’s so awesome about LEDA is that it recognizes that social gap and tries to close it in a systematic way. It’s so important that these institutions … are open to the broad swath of the country, not just to those who grew up in extreme privilege.”

LEDA Scholars were featured throughout the evening, including Cohort 11 Scholar Lynn (Barnard ’20) and Cohort 8 Scholar Rusty (Boston College ’17), who were our emcees for the event. Later in the evening, two LEDA Scholars shared their reflections on how LEDA has impacted their lives. AynNichelle (Swarthmore ’20) stressed the importance of the community that LEDA creates for our Scholars.

“Growing up, friends were hard to make and impossible to keep, as our family moved constantly. It wasn’t until my LEDA summer that I saw how a lack of community was holding me back. … Before LEDA, I wanted to do great things but didn’t know how. LEDA taught me how to ask for help as part of reaching my goals. After years without a community, LEDA taught me that spaces of growth and love are important.

Cohort 6 Scholar Edgar (Harvard ’16) described how LEDA helped cultivate both his academic potential and his leadership skills.

“When LEDA found me in 2010 at the nation’s most overpopulated high school, I was a high-achieving scholar and a campus leader determined to go to college, but I had no idea how to get there. LEDA had the answers … LEDA showed me that Harvard was right for me and that I was right for Harvard. I took unapologetic ownership of my place at Harvard, pursued one of the most difficult majors available, and regained the passion and determination to reject any limitations set before me.”

Edgar is currently a mobile software development at CoStar Group, whose Founder and CEO, Andrew Florance, was the honoree of the 2016 LEDA Reception.

Click through our gallery from the evening below, and watch complete videos of all of our speakers’ remarks and additional highlights from this remarkable evening on our YouTube channel at

LEDA Scholars as Leaders on the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board

Better Make Room Student Advisory Board with Michelle ObamaLEDA Cohort 12 Scholars on the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board pose with Michelle Obama

LEDA Cohort 12 Scholars Alezandro, Fatima, Ghawayne, and Mina were chosen from more than 400 applicants nationwide to serve on the 17-member Student Advisory Board for former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room initiative, which engages teens to change the national conversation and help kindle a college-going culture in their home communities. LEDA’s significant representation in this prestigious national initiative is a testament to our extraordinary success in identifying and developing talented young leaders, who have now been entrusted to help Mrs. Obama build this movement from the ground up.

LEDA Scholar Mina wrote about her involvement on the BMR Board: “Maintaining their identity and authentic story, the Obamas wanted to create a legacy of diverse leaders who represent the true American promise: where merit is placed before one’s race and gender. When I received the notification of my appointment as a BMR Student Advisory Board Member, I knew that I was selected not to meet a quota, but as leader of change in my community.”

LEDA Scholars on the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board at the White HouseOur Scholars met Mrs. Obama at the White House in January while attending her annual School Counselor of the Year Ceremony, her final public appearance in office. Her message to our nation’s young people about the value of diversity in our country’s leadership sector echoed the very essence of LEDA’s mission: “Our glorious diversity … is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are. … Right now, you need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation. … Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear.”

Profiles of our Scholars and the other members of the Board are available on the Better Make Room blog at

Three New Members Elected to the LEDA Board of Directors

Please join us in welcoming three new members to LEDA’s Board of Directors: Carolyn N. Ainslie, Morry C. Davis, and Ilana Goldman!

Carolyn AinslieMorry DavisIlana Goldman
Carolyn N. AinslieMorry C. DavisIlana Goldman

Ms. Ainslie is the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer of Princeton University and brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education at Princeton and Cornell to LEDA. Mr. Davis serves as Vice President of Investment Banking for RedTail Capital Markets and has held managerial positions at a diverse range of Fortune 500 corporations for more than 15 years. Ms. Goldman is a public service leadership expert who has held executive positions at the Women’s Campaign Fund, DonorsChoose, Teach For America, Common Ground Community, and several political offices and campaigns.

We are grateful to have such talented and knowledgeable individuals as part of LEDA’s leadership and look forward to their support in helping LEDA continue to thrive.

Welcome, Cohort 13!

LEDA Cohort 13 StatisticsLEDA is delighted to welcome our 100 newest LEDA Scholars to the LEDA Community! Admitted from a pool of more than 1,250 exceptional applicants, LEDA Cohort 13 Scholars come from 32 states and have an average GPA of 3.93 and an average family income of $33,000. 82% of Cohort 13 will be first-generation college students, and 62% identify as women.

LEDA has already begun preparing to meet our newest LEDA Scholars in June at our Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute. Follow along on social media as we get to know Cohort 13 better on the Princeton campus, and stay tuned for the summer highlights in our next newsletter.

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